A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

A Day Out In Boston In 1968... Part 2

Part 2

The Annex of Jordan Marsh held my full attention as young child.
The Main Store buildings seemed full of clothes and my mother would take what seemed like “hours” to walk around looking and sometimes trying things on.
On one of the shopping trips from this time in my life I can recall the selection of a portable record player for my bedroom. The record players were in the music department on the street floor of the Annex. The Annex had elevators with operators and an escalator towards the rear of the street floor opposite the main door. I think I am correct in remembering the Annex having a mezzanine running along the rear wall of the street floor like Filene’s did and the beauty salon was on it with a few other things. I did not spend much time there as a child but I recall seeing it as we rode the escalators.
Before leaving the street floor we would also visit the book department in the far corner of the street floor in it’s own small room with a door out onto Chauncy or Bedford Street I think.
There was also an elevator on one of the walls as you walked in through the archway from the larger Annex shopping floor.
Soon we would ride up to the upper floors and eventually visit the toy department. I loved that part of the trip! The Annex was really Jordan Marsh’s home store with all things home related.
The toys lived on an upper floor and I think that is where I was taken to see the Enchanted Village at Christmas and also where they had a Spring Circus display as well. I believe it was on the fifth floor and in a function room that acted like a gallery or auditorium for the various events Jordan Marsh hosted over the years.
**As a quick note for those interested in what became of this wonderful place, it was demolished in 1978 to make way for the new shopping center and hotel that now sit where it stood for nearly 80 years.
The Annex played a final vital role for Jordan Marsh in the years around 1975- 1977. While 1890 building along Washington Street was being torn down and replaced , Jordan Marsh was desperate for retail space during the process and the Annex came in very handy indeed. The Annex was packed with all sorts of merchandise and crowded with shoppers until the new Main Store building was opened. Once the new Main Store was in full use, the Annex was closed and sat empty for about a year until it was taken down. Jordan Marsh had less space now without the Annex and it cut back on many household items over time and the 1950 addition became packed with all the old departments once held in the Annex.
I recall this vividly because my mother and many others found the new placement of departments confusing and noted the lack of choices due to lack of space. I can still hear my mother saying to our landlady, another Jordan’s shopper, how much the Annex would be missed and Jordan Marsh was just not the same to shop in.

Back to 1968: We would leave the Annex via the main door onto Avon Street and walk up to Kresge’s on the corner of Temple Place. Kresge’s became rather cheap with lots of funky wigs in the window as the 1970’s wore on but in my childhood it was just like a Woolworth’s with several floors and a large lunch counter full of local workers on their lunch breaks. The store smelled good and had a nice selection of toys to look at on the second floor.
My grandmother was not keen on going beyond this point on Washington Street back then. I know that the Raymond’s Department Store had a new location further down on Washington Street but it was a “no go” zone for her. Not safe for a lady now in her 70's:-)
I think a lot of folks felt that the Combat Zone was creeping up and was now just beyond the Annex of Jordan Marsh.
So stores like the former RH White’s(failed 1957) and then for short time Citymart(early 60’s failed venture) and the new Raymond’s location(not sure how long it lasted here) were just not getting the shoppers they deserved and vanished. By 1968 I can only recall many vacant and decaying buildings as I looked down towards Chinatown.

More thoughts and memories in my next post.
I shall wrap up my 1968 shopping day with lunch and a few shop visits at the other end of Washington Street.
Ps....The images posted today show a more upmarket Kresge's from 1950.
Several images with views down around RH White Company Store with the theatres all around.
One image is of a typical department store in the early 1940's. This photo reminds me of the the feel and look of the street floor Annex building of Jordan Marsh. I would dearly love more shots of the Annex......can you help???
Let me know.

1 comment:

michael_lemire said...

thanks for the pictures and site! I work very close to here and really enjoyed this