Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Department Store Building of ... Uniontown

My relative Larry Stratton has been getting acclimated to his new home in southwestern Pennsylvania, and has even been taking the local paper from Washington, Pa. We'll get to Washington in a bit, but first here's a surviving store building in Uniontown, which for a coal-mining capital had two very sophisticated stores.

Most people probably remember this store at 22 E. Main St. just as Metzler's, but it was linked to a large regional operation. The genesis of the chain was the Wright-Metzler Co., which started in Connellsville with two Wright brothers and Sankey Metzler.  Metzler was a West Virginian who took over the Uniontown operation. After his death in 1939, his son William took over, and then it went into the hands of daughter Martha and her husband, Daniel MacDonald.

As noted here before, the Metzler stores were interconnected with stores Warren and Latrobe, as well as, briefly, Washington, Pa., all of which eventually went in other directions. What I haven't been able to track down is if there was any connection between the Metzlers and the Kaufmans, who owned Uniontown's other big store, N. Kaufman's Inc. Nathan Kaufman, a merchant from Brownsville, Pa., bought what had been Rosenbaum Bros. in Uniontown in the wake of the Depression. Day-to-day operations went into the hands of Bailey Greenwald in the late 1950s, although Kaufman's son William was still the owner. The interesting question is: When I was in Uniontown a few years ago, a house on the same street that Bailey Greenwald had lived in was owned by one Sankey Greenwald. The chance of "Sankey" being coincidental would seem minuscule. So did the Greenwald and Metzler families intermarry? Nothing exists online to show such a connection; indeed, many of the references to Sankey Metzler in Uniontown are to this blog. But if anyone reading this in Uniontown knows whether its two department store families finally became one, let me know.

NOTE: IT'S ONLY WEEKS AWAY: The release of Michael Lisicky's newest department store history, this one profiling Gimbel Bros. Start storing away your money now to buy it!

1 comment:

weo said...

Gimbel's Has It is a fascinating read, so much so that I have reread it several times.

American's were pampered by this great middle market department store, it's fine deli's, Tasty Towns, Charmont and Anaclair candies. Keeping up with fashion on a budget was something Gimbels customers would enjoy doing. Furniture with clean lines, well made, were part of the Gimbels experience.

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Gimbels closing. Nothing, even Kohls has truly replaced it.