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

Friday 11 February 2011

R. H. White’s Turns 100…It’s 1953 in Retro Boston!

Hello, Retro Boston Fans!

All the Boston stores loved to have BIG celebrations to honor or mark their humble beginnings. Birthdays, Founder’s Days, Anniversaries…you name it…the big stores of retro Boston celebrated and the public came to enjoy the spectacle each provided. Remember that all the big stores tried to outdo one another with each year’s festivities…so the new celebrations had to be bigger and better than the year before. Much money and creativity was poured into these events and they were very memorable indeed! Newspapers featured them all and gave that VERY welcome publicity.

Today we slip back to 1953 and have a look at how legendary R. H. White’s celebrated its 100th year in Boston.

R. H. White’s was a leader in the Boston retail scene and had a very loyal following. So in 1953, all the stops were pulled out and White’s put on a year of events to mark their BIG 100th anniversary.

The store was given a make-over of sorts both in and out. The old electric sign on Washington Street with a clock (used for many years) was removed and soon replaced with a more modern looking store signature sign. The outer lower walls were given a brick over in white and the store boasted of wider aisles, escalators from the first to sixth floors and bright fluorescent lighting on every sales floor. White’s was old in Boston retailing tradition…but modern and ready for the changing market place of the 1950’s.

A Patriot’s Day Parade was held in honor of their 100th year and many store window displays were featured throughout the year as a way of marking this very special occasion. The most famous window display of the year was done in February 1953 and recreated shops of 1853 Boston all along the Washington Street side of the store. Each window became a shop of old and had frames built outside that looked as if the store was sitting right in front of the viewer.

The new “W” logo was introduced this year and replaced the standard logo that had been in use for many years. The new “W” logo was also introduced into the popular Christmas slogan, “Make it a White Christmas!” I just love that!!!

The store was excited and eager to expand into suburbia and the Lincoln Shopping Center location was due to open in the near future as well as a modern, new distribution facility.

In 1953, no hint of what was to come in 1957 was in the air. R. H. White’s was moving ahead and the Boston store was their flagship and their main focus. White’s management was very vocal during these early years of the 1950’s about wanting to limit traffic in downtown Boston and encourage patrons to use the public transport systems to shop rather than use the family car. BUT even White’s would bend a bit by vacating a warehouse building it used nearby so that it could be razed for a public parking garage…anything to save downtown Boston from losing those precious customers.

White’s was trying desperately to keep patrons flowing down to their end of Washington Street and the use of their store windows as a “lure” became crucial for survival. The 1953 anniversary did achieve many onlookers who did stop in to shop and for the next few years White’s would carry on.

So enjoy this 1953 celebration and raise a glass to R. H. White’s and 100 years of shopping delights!


FYI...If you want more information on R. H. White's history, visit this earlier blog update:





PS....The Jordan Marsh Memory Project!!!!!!

Here is what I said about it on my Facebook page:

This blog has been so popular and generated much discussion around many of the stores of the past but one store really has become a true legend. Filene’s has many fans that are true to its dear memory….but The Jordan Marsh Company seems to have a wonderful nostalgic aura that surpasses all the others for so many Bostonians. For this reason, I have decided to begin a very special project dedicated just to The Jordan Marsh Company and a key part of this project will be the gathering of as many memories from the public who loved to shop there over the many years it ruled the Boston shopping scene.

The Jordan Marsh Memory Project could become a book or booklet of some type in the future…at this point I am just gathering all the information and research materials I can find about this great store of Boston’s past. I encourage anyone who would like to participate in the project to write to me at:


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