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

Monday 13 October 2008

Best & Co. In Boston

Hello my Friends!

 All the stores that I feature here were Boston based department stores or stores that had a large branch or branches in the downtown Boston area. Best&Co. was a New York City based department store that had a branch in Boston for many years. Best&Co. was one of those department stores that had a few areas of speciality that it served well and for many years in its main store in New York City and in the branches it had operated during its time in business from 1879-1971. 

Best&Co. was mainly known for children's and women's clothing and accessories. It had a very tasteful, upmarket style and a keen eye for fashions. I would say that in the Boston area it most looked and felt like RH Stern's on Tremont Street. 

The Boston branch of Best&Co. was located from the late 1950's until it closed in 1971 on Boylston Street in the Copley Square area. My research seems to indicate that it was in the building built to replace the very ornate Hotel Brunswick just behind Trinity Church. 

This typical "retro" style office and retail building housed Best&Co. on the first two floors.

The store may have been located in another spot prior to this time but I can find no information on this. 

In 1966, the declining company was acquired by McCrory's and sadly, this was the start to an even bigger decline and eventual closure in November 1970 of the flagship store in NYC and some branches. The Fifth Ave. marble faced flagship building would be sold and torn down in 1971 to make way for a "typical" NYC tower. Best&Co. was another of the many victims to fall during the closures of the 1960's and 70's. 

The Boston branch seemed to hang on for another year or so before McCrory's closed it as well.

Enjoy these stylish photos of the interior of the Boston branch circa 1960 and some sales adverts from the New York based stores. I also include some of the articles written in the New York papers at the time of the closure in 1970. 

I tossed in one shot of the Fifth Ave. building from 1961 located next to St. Patrick's on the left.


Tuesday 7 October 2008

Some Fun Raymond's Trivia

Hello All!

My friend Jan Whitaker wrote me with a bit of Raymond's trivia that I did not know and hope you will all enjoy reading. 

In 1998 Robert C. Schaye, who had served as president for the once great Boston institution, died and in his Boston Globe obituary a bit of trivia was found and recently located by Jan.

Raymond's department store was a fixture in downtown Boston for 100 years. Its spokesman was "Uncle Eph," a bewhiskered top-hatted swamp yankee with an eye for a bargain and a problem with spelling.

Every year, with much fanfare (and advance publicity), "Uncle Eph" arrived at South Station and was led to the store by a marching band to celebrate "originashun day," the anniversary of the opening of the store.

In 1872, the year of the Great Boston Fire that destroyed much of the downtown shopping district, George J. Raymond pitched a tent downtown and sold an assortment of hats he bought at a fire sale. His family-operated store soon became a permanent fixture on Washington Street. At one time Raymond's also operated outlets in Dedham, Lynn, Malden, Quincy, and Waltham. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 1972 and closed shortly thereafter.

According to Boston legend (and a story published in the Globe on May 12, 1957) Uncle Eph first arrived on the scene many years ago, when Frank Dorr, the general manager of Raymond's, received a letter postmarked Slatersville, R.I., and addressed: "The Big Mogul at Raymond's Where U Bot Th' Hat.'

The letter was from the Rev. Harvey B. Eastman of the Congregational Church in Slatersville, and related in familiar language and abysmal spelling how the preacher had been sending away for many years for Raymond's merchandise.

"After `awl these years," he wrote, `thot I'd set right down and write you how awl-danged pleased Ida' been with your guds and th' way they guv me years uf long wear."

To show his appreciation, The Reverend, "Uncle Eph," was coming to Boston Town to make a "speshul" trip to see Raymonds and thank 'em.

Mr. Dorr knew an opportunity for good publicity when he saw one. He met Eph with a marching band when his train arrived at South Station and thus was born a Boston tradition.

And now I present a few examples of 1920's adverts from a few Boston papers which showed Unkle Eph and his unique spellings.  The adverts in the 1920's were large and almost always a full page. Each contained a message from dear old Unkle Eph to fill us in on the goings on in his special world. Lessons to be learned and values to be found in the patchwork of buildings that made up the famous Raymond's Department Store on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets. I will also repost a photo from the last days of Raymond's in this location before it was torn down to make way for the new BIG Woolworth's of the late 60's. 

Thanks Jan!  Enjoy!


ps...."Unkle Eph" always spelled his name this way. The Globe just had to fix it:-)

Wednesday 20 August 2008

The Last of the Boston Giants

Thanks again to Nick DeWolf and his camera. These photos of Filene's are mostly from 1970 and act as a great reminder of what the store was like on the main floor and in that world famous basement. One photo is from 1958 and it shows the street just outside one of the main doors. 

I look at these photos and I am still in shock that this place is no more. It joins all my other stores on this blog and becomes a place to visit only in our memories.

Enjoy these and thanks again to the family of Nick DeWolf.



Wednesday 13 August 2008

A Dedication

Hello Friends! It has been a while since I updated and I felt a great inspiration this past week.

The inspiration was my dear, old best friend from my hometown of Brookline....one who has known me longer than anyone living or I am in touch with now at this point in my life. Mike....Thank You!!!!

Mike contacted me via one of those high school reunion sites and we have been emailing and chatting by phone again. It's wonderful and we have so much fun remembering Boston and Brookline together! Mike is still based in the Boston area and is just as hooked on "old" Boston places as I am. He took time this week to go and do some key research for me and has sent me all I asked for.  AND is enjoying it soooo much.....he will do it again:-) WOW!! 

So Mike, this update is for you!

These ads are from local papers in the areas around Boston but give a good feel for the type of goods on offer in the 1960's in Woolworth's and WT Grant's. Now I learned that WT Grant's in some locations sold large appliances. I had no idea! The Grant's in Boston did not, at least not big ones when I went in in the late 60's- early 70's.

Let me know what you think!!!  Charles..........


Friday 4 April 2008

Lots of Interest

I am pleased to say that folks are responding and contacting me with some great ideas and questions about the great old Boston department stores we all loved or at least heard about:-)

Two photos today of Woolworth's in Boston. Some questions have come up about locations of Woolworth's before the BIG new store of 1970.

This was a pre-1970 location along Washington Street right next to the Annex of Jordan Marsh.

This shot was done from West St. and is just below the corner of the former Avon Street that ran between the Main Store and the Annex of Jordan Marsh Company.

I do not recall this location as a child. I think this must have closed early to mid- 60's.

Jordan Marsh filled out these side stores in the 1960's and they became part of the large Annex Building. A posting on this blog of a few days ago shows this location as shot by Nick DeWolf in 1970.

In that photo you can see the Jordan Marsh sign covering over where the Woolworth's sign would have been located.

Enjoy and keep asking!!!!!!!!


Wednesday 2 April 2008

Boston Department Store Ads From The Past

Here are a few Boston store ads that I have found or have been given.

I would love to put more of these up on the blog.

Any other exciting finds out there to post would be SO WONDERFUL!!!



Tuesday 1 April 2008

Looking At A Photograph

A bit of fun! I came upon this photo some time ago and wanted to post it.

The Bostonian Society has this in its archive and has said it is a photo of Washington Street.

I am very sure it is not! The photo was taken in the early 1950's on the corner of Bedford and Chauncy Streets. This photo shows the Bristol Building of Jordan Marsh and the rear of the Annex. You are looking up towards Washington Street and at the rear entrance of RH White's.

You can see RH White's flag(celebrating the 100th birthday) up near the top of the photo.

Note the 1928 ward map and see the way I have marked it with blue. This shows the Jordan Marsh complex of buildings and the "X" marks the spot of the photographer's shot.

During the time my grandmother worked for Jordan Marsh(1920's to 1950's), the various Jordan Marsh buildings were called by the names Bristol, Hovey, Main and Annex by both the shoppers and workers alike. Each building being known for the specific range of items it sold.

The use of the Bristol Building decreased with 1949 wing which replaced all of the old Hovey Buildings along Summer and Chauncy Streets.

All of the buildings were connected by tunnels and there was also a sky bridge over Avon Street connecting the 1949 wing to the Annex Building.

By my time in the late 60's, the Bristol Building was still there but used for extra office space by Jordan Marsh. I think...and I may be wrong...but the photo I posted today of the rear of the Annex was where the book department was....I think. Am I right???

Let me know:-)