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Stern's Department Store. Waukegan, Illinois

Stern's (originally Stern Brothers) was a regional department store chain serving New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The chain was in business for more than 130 years, prior to its 2001 integration into Macy's and Bloomingdale's

 

Stern Brothers was founded in 1867 by Issac, Louis and Benjamin Stern, sons of German Jewish immigrants. In 1867 they began selling dry goods in Buffalo, New York. From these humble beginnings the Stern Brothers became an important merchandising family in New York City.

Stern's logo used through the 1980s until 1997

 

In 1868 they moved to New York City and opened a one room store at 367 Sixth Avenue. In 1877 the store was again relocated to larger quarters at 110 West 23rd. Street. Outgrowing the store at 110 West 23rd. Street, Stern Brothers erected a new structure at the same location which became the new flagship store in 1878. It was noted for its cast-iron facade at 32 to 36 West 23rd. Street & 23 to 35 West 22nd. Street. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach. It was enlarged according to a design by W.M. Schickel in 1892. The enormous, six story building was executed in the Renaissance Revival style. W.M. Schinckel's typically 19th. century addition tripled the dimensions of the original structure on the eastern portion of the site. The tall central section of this addition animates the long and delicately detailed facade. The company's monogram is still located above the central arch. (This structure is still in use today. The first floor houses a Home Depot, while the upper floors are showrooms.) The entire Sterns family worked in this store, which carried both luxury goods and merchandise the working classes. It was an elegant store noted for its fashionable clothes. Ladies from all over the city came to Stern Brothers for their Paris fashions. This enterprise was distinguished by its elegant door men in top hats and the generous and friendly service of the Sterns themselves.

 

Stern Brothers was a family business. The family for decades ran the store and family members filled the many positions in the store. It was not uncommon for customers to be greeted by the brothers themselves. The family was joined by A.D. Brandeis(1914). His daughter had married Irving C. Stern one of the Directors of Stern Brothers. Irving was the son of founder Louis Stern. Arthur D. Brandeis was President of the J.H. Brandeis Company of Omaha, Nebraska, the biggest department store west of Chicago.

 

In 1913 Stern Brothers moved farther uptown and built a new flagship store near Fifth Avenue and West 42nd Street across from Bryant Park. The new store had nine floors with the buying offices located in the basement. Stern Brothers catered to the Carriage Trade and had a separate entrance for customers like the Goulds and Astors. Since the store was near the Theater District, many up and coming stars worked in the store. The busy hours of the store were between 11am to 2pm when local workers from the area where on their lunch.

 

During the late 1950s and early 1960s sales began to decline as most New Yorkers moved to the suburbs. In its final years Stern Brothers closed this location in 1969 and left New York City to focus on their stores in New Jersey. The flagship store was moved to the Bergen Mall, New Jersey location. The 42nd Street building was sold and demolished to make way for the W.R. Grace chemical company which moved into their new building in 1974. Stern Brothers already had several locations in New Jersey. The Preakness store (formally Quakenbush) in the late 50's. Willowbrook opened in the late 60's and Woodbridge Center in 1971.

 

Located at the corner of Water and Genesee streets; Waukegan, IL.

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Taken on September 19, 2010