Sunday, June 8, 2008

Department Store Building of the Week, Vol. 7

Newark is rare in that all of its big department store buildings still exist. There were four main stores, so let's start with the northernmost, at 625 Broad St. Hahne & Co. was the upscale department store for Newark. It was founded, amazingly, as a store selling bird cages, in 1858 on Broad Street at Central Avenue. Julius Hahne brought his three sons, Richard, August and Albert, into the business, whose specialty for many years was toys. It also expanded into what "fancy goods" -- dress trimmings, linens and the like, as opposed to the department store staple of "dry goods," which was more cottons, wool and muslins. (Early department stores also sold notions -- buttons, sewing accessories and the like -- as well as rugs and carpets. "Ready-to-wear" generally grew out of dry goods. Fancy-goods stores tended to be smaller, and so not as many grew into full-line department stores.)

The store prospered, and expanded in the 1880s into dry goods, moving closer to Four Points, the center of Newark's downtown at Broad and Market Streets. Then the Hahnes -- the three sons plus brother-in-law William Kellner -- made plans for a large new building farther to the north. There was a substantial affluent community just to the north of downtown Newark, and well-off residents were moving into the North Ward as well. Institutions such as the library and the museum would locate there. It was close to a main station of the suburban rail network as well. A location opposite Military Park seemed ideal for a carriage-trade store, away from the bustle of the center.

Hahne's eventually passed into the control of the Stewart family's American Dry Goods Co., which also owned Stewart & Co. in Baltimore and James McCreery & Co. in New York, and from there was amalgamated into Associated Dry Goods. For decades the only officer of the store listed in city directories was its president, the singularly named Junior C. Buck. (He was no relation to the Bucks who owned one of the two big stores in Wichita.) Buck pioneered Hahne's suburban expansion with stores in upscale Montclair and Westfield.

Hahne's remained open in downtown Newark until the mid-1980s. The stores eventually were turned into Stern's and thus made their way into the Great Macyization.

Some information here is taken from the site Old Newark Memories.

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