New Castle, Pa., is one of those places that clearly was once a Big Deal and has become less of one as industry has moved elsewhere. The main floor of the New Castle News building, for example, reflects not only the onetime grandeur of the newspaper business but the economic prowess of New Castle. If you're ever there, walk in and check it out.
Before the depression, New Castle had many department stores -- Brown & Hamilton, Clendenin's, Stritmater Bros., and the entertainingly named J.N. Euwer's Sons' Sons. None of these made it out of the Depression. John Stillman, creator of the Interstate Department Stores chain of lower-end department stores from central Pennsylvania into Indiana and Michigan, had his first department store in New Castle before relocating to Fort Wayne. After the Depression, the Strouss-Hirshberg Co. of Youngstown, Ohio, moved into an old furniture store for a department-store branch, and New Castle also was home to the Fisher Bros. Dry Goods chain, a low-end operation that had many stores in western Pennsylvania from the 1940s through the 1970s.
But the longest-lived department store in downtown New Castle was the New Castle Dry Goods Co., at 253 E. Washington St., which was operated by the Boston Store in Erie. What made the survival of what was known as the New Castle Store even more interesting was that it was by itself across a river from the main part of downtown. The store grew out of R.S. McCulloch & Co. and took its place in the mid-1910s. When the Boston Store became part of the Allied Stores operations, the New Castle store eventually was made part of Allied's Troutman division based in Greensburg.