With the holiday shopping season quickly reaching its frenzy, Cincinnati’s big-time historic department stores come to mind including Pogue’s, Mabley & Carew, Shillito’s, McAlpin’s and Gidding’s—to name just a few. From the late 1800s to late 1970’s, downtown shopping in Cincinnati was huge, attracting countless shoppers from all over the region for over 100 years. Cincinnati natives—of over a certain age, naturally—fondly recall these department stores and the phenomenal architectural designs of the buildings themselves.
The H & S. Pogue Company was a Cincinnati-based department store founded by two brothers, Henry and Samuel Pogue. Natives of Ireland, the two brothers first worked for their uncle at a dry goods store until they were able to buy him out in 1863 and re-establish the store as the H & S Pogue Dry Goods Company.
The company’s premier store at the corner of Fourth and Race Streets was designed by Samuel Hannaford in 1916. This beautiful Edwardian structure contained a whopping six acres of retail space. The store reached its height from 1920 to 1960 and continued into the 1980’s before closing.
Henry Pogue also built the nicely-preserved Queen Anne frame residence at 2312 Park Avenue in Walnut Hills. Originally built around 1865, it was enlarged and remodeled in the late 19th century.
The John Shillito Company first opened its doors in the 1850s at 13 West Fourth Street, in a building designed by James W. McLaughlin. By 1878, the company opened another location at the corner of Seventh and Race Streets, which was the largest department store in the United States under one roof.
The George W. McAlpin Company took over the former Shillito’s building on West Fourth Street, later expanding to include the two adjacent buildings to the west (to encompass 13-17 West Fourth Street).
The center building of this cluster was built in 1873 and designed by James Keys Wilson for the Mitchell & Rammelsberg Furniture Company. This company was one of the largest furniture companies in the world and known for using an “assembly-line” technique to make furniture that pre-dated Ford’s automobile assembly line by decades.
Present-day Fountain Square now stands on what was once the site of Mabley & Carew, which first opened its doors in 1881.
The store later occupied six floors of the Carew Tower in the 1930s.
In 1907, J.M. Gidding and Company was established at 10-12 West Fourth Street.
By 1914, this elite company had shops in New York, Paris, and Washington D.C.