Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rich, Schwartz & Joseph.

Rich, Schwartz & Joseph Building, 227 Fifth Avenue North, at center now occupied by Sam's Clothing, google images.

Rich, Schwartz & Joseph Building, 202-204 Sixth Avenue North2016, photo by Debie Oeser Cox

Nashville's First Ready To Wear Store
and a story of three buildings

This story was researched and compiled by Debie Oeser Cox, from numerous news articles that appeared in local newspapers.  There was no byline for the authors of the news stories but it was from their research, interviews, and writings that this information was taken to tell this story.  A few other sources that were used are identified in the story.

Rich, Schwartz & Joseph Clothing Store operated in Nashville from 1902 until 1987.  The main store was at three different location during those years. The company started out at 227 Fifth Avenue North.  The store moved to 202-206 Sixth Avenue North in 1936.  In 1956 Rich, Schwartz & Joseph moved to 2400 West End Avenue.  From 1961 until 1986, Rich, Schwartz & Joseph also had a store in Belle Meade Plaza.  The buildings on Fifth Avenue North and Sixth Avenue North are both still standing.

Julius Rich and Leo Schwartz, partnered together in 1902, to open Nashville's first exclusive ladies ready to wear store.  Mr. Rich previously worked for Lebeck Bros. and had 17 years of retail experience.  Mr. Schwartz, worked for Loveman & Co. and had experience selling ladies apparel for a number of years. The men were so excited about their new venture, that ran an advertisement in the Nashville American, a month before their opening date.

Nashville American, January 19,  1902

 Opening day was February 19, 1902.  The store was located at 227-229 North Summer Street, now 5th Avenue North.  The owners proudly proclaimed that theirs was the first and only exclusive ready to wear store in the city.  In the first year of business, Julius Rich and Leo Schwartz were joined by Robert Schwartz and Arthur Joseph. After a few months, Robert Schwartz left the firm.  Arthur Joseph remained, as a full partner.  In 1903, a skirt factory was opened by the partners, on the second floor of their building.  The store owners had become aware of a need to accommodate ladies who were not of an average size with well fitting, ready to wear garments.

In 1906, Harry Joseph, brother of Arthur Joseph, joined the firm, as office manager and manager of a planned millinery department to be added on the second floor.  The second floor was being used as a skirt factory, owned by the firm.  A contract was signed with George Moore and sons to refit the entire second floor.  The contract called for one hundred mirrors to be installed, to include private mirrored booths. The walls and ceilings would be painted green and the carpet would be green Wilton.  The department would carry, feathers, lace, flowers, ribbons, and other decorations to be used to design a hat to the customer's liking.  The millinery department was very successful.  The store had started out using about half of the first floor.  By 1908 all of the three floors were in use.  The company cut through the wall of an adjacent building to add more retails space and redesigned the storefront windows to better exhibit the merchandise.  A 1911 advertisement, indicates the store has it all, furs, suits, hats, dresses, costumes and coats.  In early 1915 Harry Joseph, left the firm, to open his own millinery store.  His brother Arthur, remained with the Rich, Schwartz & Joseph.

The Tennessean and Nashville American, September 24, 1911

 Business was good for Rich, Schwartz & Joseph. In 1926, the store had a grand reopening, after a full remodel of the interior and a new look for the storefront.  The skirt factory was long gone, and the first and second floors were used fully for retail.  The third floor housed the executive offices for the store.  A new color scheme of cool gray walls and white trim, with deep gray carpet, was used throughout the first and second floors.  The recessed alcove main entrance had been designed with show windows around both sides, allowing the most show space for the passerby of any store in Nashville.  The floor of the entrance was of gray and white tile with inlays of the name of the firm.  In an interview in 1926, Leo Schwartz stated that the building was built about 1900 by Samuel Murphy, a well known local businessman.  However, when Murphy purchased the lot in 1899 from Ellen Tynes, the price paid was 25,000 dollars.  The 1899 deed stated that there was a three-story brick building on the lot. Ellen Tynes had owned the property since the mid-1870's.  Research indicates the building may have been erected about 1891, while Tynes was the owner.  The building was the first home of the YWCA in Nashville, in 1898.

The Tennessean, May 1, 1926

 After more than thirty years at the Fifth Avenue location, Rich, Schwartz & Joseph announced in 1935, that a new store would be built at 202-204 Sixth Avenue North.

Architect rendering of the new store, Tennessean, July 5, 1936

The four-story building opened in August of 1936.  The newspaper's stories at the time credited, Architects Marr and Holman as having designed the Art Deco building. Gundling Building and Construction Company of Chicago designed the interior fittings and fixtures. The first three floors were for retail space.  The fourth floor had a large customer lounge and the companies offices were also located there.  The entire store was air conditioned and had modern indirect lighting.  Beginning in the late 1930's, advertisements often had the shortened, and popularly used, Rich-Schwartz, rather than the formal name of Rich, Schwartz & Joseph.  This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The original nomination stated the building was constructed in 1930 and was three stories high. Additional documentation was added in 2008 stating the building was constructed in 1936 and that the architect was the Sidney Morris firm of Chicago.  The fact that the building is four stories high seems to have been overlooked.

In 1955, Rich, Schwartz & Joseph announced a move from downtown to 2400 West End.  They would occupy the 1929 E. Gray Smith Packard building.

The Tennessean, October 2, 1955, image by Jack Corn

 The store opened in March of 1956.  In only a few months the old Packard dealership had been turned into a showcase for fashion.  Rich, Schwartz & Joseph, ran an ad on March 4, thanking the many businesses and people who had helped the company make the transition from the old store downtown to the new store uptown.  At the top of the list was Sidney H. Morris and Associates of Chicago who had planned and designed the new store at 2400 West End.  Next was T. E. Akers & son, a general contractor who had totally transformed the space in 90 days.  Many local suppliers, craftsmen, and contractors were on the list.  And last, they thanked Mr. Fred Harvey, for being their patient and understanding landlord since January 1.  The West End location was a good one for the company and their customers.  The continued to be innovative.  For some time after the move buses picked up downtown workers on their lunch hour, sold lunch items on the bus and brought the riders out the West End store. The first pre-teen beauty salon, Miss Muffet, was at the West End store.

The store appealed to females of every age and could provide any outfit from casual sportswear to prom dresses and luxurious furs.  From 1961 until 1986, Rich, Schwartz & Joseph, operated a store in Belle Meade Plaza.

In December of 1987, after a run of 85 years in Nashville, Rich, Schwartz & Joseph, closed the West End Store.  There were two stores remaining, one in Memphis and the other in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 2400 West End building would survive as Tower Records from 1988 until 2006. It was also home to F.Y.E for a few years.

Tower Records, 2400 West End, Facebook Tower Records Nashville

The building at 2400 West End Avenue, was demolished in 2012 and is now the site of a large hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton.

Hitchcock Building

As I grow older, I find I missed a lot by not looking up, when I was a child.  Downtown to me was at storefront level.  I don't think I ever really looked up at the old buildings that lined downtown streets.  I saw large display windows with mannequins, dressed in colorful clothes, and displays of every sort of merchandise.  I remember entry ways with the name of the store inlaid in the terrazzo tile floors.  I never saw what was above the marque or the fancy signs across the entrance.  I remember Harvey's covering the entire block of Church Street from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue. Street view images of the Harvey's block show that there were a number of buildings.   Once I began looking up, I found a lot buildings and businesses and other things, that I wanted to learn more about.

Many of those old buildings are still standing.   I recently discovered one, while searching for another.  The building was a part of the Harvey's Department Store complex along Church Street. The building is at the corner of Church Street and Sixth Avenue North and today is called the Cornerstone Square building. 

Church Street at 6th Avenue North, 530 Church Street, google image, 2016.

It was first reported in the spring of 1892, that James Wilcox, a young Philadelphia lawyer, had made an offer for the old Christ Church lot at at the corner of Church and High (6th Avenue) Streets.  Deed records show that Mr. Wilcox was successful and the lot was transferred to him in December of 1892, in return for $24,000.  The old church stood next to Bailey's Hotel. In April of 1892, the Christ Church building was razed.  The corner-stone box was opened and the contents were decayed.

Nashville, Tenn., Sanborn Map & Publishing Company, 1888

In March of 1893, James Wilcox, "a Philadelphia capitalist," planned to construct a seven story office building, at the corner of Church and High Streets. The location was the former site of Christ Church.  The building was to have two elevators and steam heat.  The lower floor would be used for retail space.  The design for the building was provided by Mr. Findley(?) of Philadelphia. William C. Smith of Nashville would supervise construction. Fulcher and Dyas Brick company, provided Roman pressed brick made exclusively for the building.  In December 1893, the owner's name was chiseled into the stone over the arched entrance way. The name was mistakenly spelled Willcox, with two l's, and was cut too deep to be corrected.

The Willcox Building opened in early 1894. Among the early tenants were the Berlitz School of Languages, a restaurant called The Tea Room, Fall's Tennessee Business College, and the Royal Costume Company of New York.

The Nashville American, March 26, 1899

In 1895. Mr. Wilcox offered office space, free of charge, to the committee in charge of planning Tennessee's Centennial celebration. 

The Bailey Hotel and beyond that the Wilcox Building, Glimpses of Nashville, Zibart Bros., 1901

In 1905 the Willcox building was sold to Major E. B. Stahlman, owner of the Banner newspaper in Nashville, for 105,000 dollars. Stahlman also purchased two residential lots that adjoined the Willcox building at the rear.  He announced plans to enlarge the building for his newspaper.   Stahlman sold the building at auction, three years later. Stahlman addressed the crowd, at the sale.  He said he had decided against investing the thousands of dollars it would take to enlarge and convert the building,  to make it suitable as a home for the Banner. The building fronting 60 feet on Church Street, ran back 80 feet along Sixth Avenue.  In addition to the first floor and basement, it contained 83 offices. The high bidder, at 118, 600 dollars, was John H. Hitchcock, a Nashville business man.  Within a short time the building began to be referred to as the Hitchcock building.

In 1911, the architectural firm of Marr and Holman were hired to design and remodel the space on the west side of the first floor for a new business.  John Decker and Son (George Decker), had plans to open a confectionery sore and ice cream parlor in the space.  Joe Holman and George Decker, traveled to other cities, searching for the latest ideas.  The new store would be called, Decker's. The store location, soon came to be known as, Decker's Corner.
The walls of the entire place will be wainscoted with Vermont white marble, with heavy green marble base, and above the marble will be mirrors with a cornice of Honduras mahogany. The ceiling and walls will be decorated with plaster relief ornaments and cornices, and this will be tinted and stenciled in appropriate colors. The floor will be of white tiling and the front entrance will be In the corner, giving access to both Church street and Sixth avenue. The front will be adorned with electrically lighted colored art glass with mahogany cornice and a green marble base. The show windows will have marble floors and will be so constructed as to prevent frosting in any kind of weather giving a view at all times to the public. - Nashville Tennessean and The Nashville America, March 26, 1911.
 The ice cream parlor, opened in July and was a success, with huge crowds on opening day. There were more details in a news article about the store.  The color scheme was red and gold. The soda fountain counter top was of white onyx.  Birch had been chosen for the woodwork.

The Tennessean, February 3, 1913

Decker and Son also had a manufacturing business, at 1411 Church Street, where  ice cream, candy and other goodies were made. By 1920, Decker and Son decided to concentrate on the ice cream business, and closed the ice cream parlor.  They continued making ice cream at their plant at 1411 Church Street.

Liggett's Rexall Drug Store moved into Decker's space in 1921.  By the 1920's, the Hitchcock building had a number of doctors as tenants.  Attorneys, dentists and other professionals also leased office space there. This would continue into the mid-1940's.

 The building was updated in 1929, and renovated in 1936.  Liggett's store size was increased and remodeled  The drug store would remain at 530 Church Street until 1945. 

Liggett's after the 1936 renovation. The Tennessean, September 11, 1936.

 The building at 530 Church Street was half a century old when it was incorporated in the Harveys Department store, in 1946.  No longer thought of as a separate business the Hitchcock name disappeared from Church Street.  In 1953 Fred Harvey had workers remove and close in, the doors at the corner of Church and Sixth, and created a new entrance on Church Street, east of the corner. 

Harrvey's (Hitchcock building), Grannis Photography, 1957
 Harveys occupied the Hitchcock building from 1946 until the downtown store closed in 1983.

The Tennessean, December 4, 1983

In 1997, the old Lebeck building was torn down for a parking lot.  The Hitchcock building stood alone for the first time in one hundred years, since the Lebeck building was constructed in 1906.

Today the building is known as Cornerstone Square.  In 1992, Historic Nashville Inc. acquired a preservation facade easement for the building.  This agreement, between the building owner and  HNI, allows HNI to work with the owners, to protect the historical integrity of any part of the building facade, visible to the public.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wm. Sutherland & Company

Researched and written by Debie Oeser Cox 

In 1894 Sutherland and Co. filed suit against the City of Nashville, for damages received at the company's lumber yard.  In 1888 the city had purchased a right of way through Sutherland's property to put a sewer line through.  The city promised to "have said sewer line so constructed with a suitable valve as will prevent in case of high rise of the river, the flowing of water back through said pipe or sewer into the lot or premises..."

The court decided that the City did not use proper methods and or materials to prevent the backflow.  The property had been safe from flooding before the sewer was put in and the City was found to be liable for the damage to the lumberyard and a judgement of $2000 was given.  On appeal the verdict was reversed and new trial ordered.

Because of the court case I believe this photo was made in March of 1890, likely to be used as proof of flooding. 

1890, Sutherland & Co. North Edgefield Remembered project, Bill McKee.  TSLA

The location of the company as given in the court record was, between Bridge Avenue (Woodland St.) and Main street, and First Street and the Cumberland River.

Each spring there was danger from flooding. By 1891, Sutherland and Co. had built a levy between their property and the river.  In June of 1893, there was a terrible fire along the river in East Nashville, with many companies suffering damage.  Sutherland and Co. had a loss of $15,000, but the planing mill was not damaged.

William Sutherland died in August of 1897.  It was announced that the lumber mill business would continue under the leadership of his wife Julia and son James Sutherland.  By 1900, the company had disappeared from Nashville City Directories.  


Sutherland & Co., 1888 Sanborn Map and Publishing Company


Standard Lumber Co.,  1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville

In 1903. the Standard Lumber and Box Co. was incorporated and began to conduct business at the site of the old Sutherland Lumber Co.

Wm Sutherland Company Supplement

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The First Shelby Park, 1892-1905

researched and written by Debie Oeser Cox

The First Shelby Park, 1892-1905

Edgefield Land Company 

(Continued to be used informally as a private park until 1908)

The first Shelby Park was owned by the Edgefield Land Company.  A charter was filed for Edgefield Land Company on March 14, 1890. The officers of the company were described as being from Kansas City, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. The group purchased a large tract of land from Marie Crutcher, and her daughters Fannie Yandell and Bettie Maney. Known as the "Woodlands," the parcel contained 434 acres and sold for $95,000.

A plat was soon filed with the Davidson County Register of Deeds office, for Edgefield Land Company's First Subdivision and would be followed by two more subdivisions within a year.  The new subdivision was bordered on the west by 15th Street and on the east by 20th, and ran south to north from Eastside to Lillian Street.  In May, an auction was held to boost sales of lots.  Edgefield Land Company promised to set aside land for a park. The company partnered with the United Electric Railway Company, to extend street lines, through East Nashville, out to 19th Street.  The real estate company leased land to the railway company, so that a park could be established.  The park, at the eastern edge of the new neighborhood was a token, to draw people to the outer reaches of the undeveloped area.  Payment to the railway company, was in the form of cash, and undeveloped land.   United Electric Railway filed a plan for their own subdivision.  The new area was slowly growing and the park became a reality.  Shelby Park was named for Dr. John Shelby, who once owned much of the land covered by the original Edgefield neighborhood, in lower East Nashville.  Though often told as fact, Shelby never owned and where the park was located.

Formally opened in the summer of 1892, Shelby Park, was advertised as a cool respite from the summer heat and humidity.  A clearing had been made at the edge of a wooded, shady area, for a place to for families to spend leisure time in the evenings.  Wells had been drilled to supply water for visitors.  On Saturdays and Sundays, the park was a place for picnics.  Lots were sold and new homes built across the area and the popularity of the Shelby Park continued to grow.  In the mornings mothers, brought their children to the park, where they could run at will and enjoy the fresh air of the country side.  In the evenings, as the men returned home from their jobs in the hot city, families would often bring their supper to the park to picnic, and stay until dark.

By the summer of 1893, a band stand had been built and local musicians and bands would entertain on Sunday afternoons.  It was estimated that 1500, to 2,000, people were gathering at the park on Sundays, many for organized Sunday School picnics.

Beginning in the spring and summer of 1894, the size of the park was increased.  Entertainment acts were brought into the park.  Nearly every Sunday, there was a balloon ascent, followed by a parachute drop.  There were jugglers, acrobats, dancers, rope walkers, and musicians, every week.  A huge tent was erected, with seating for 1,000 people and large stage for performers.  A Cuban acrobatic, dancer named Cyrene, was engaged for two weeks and gave two performances each day.  A switch back roller coaster was constructed and in operation by the first of July.

The park continued to be improved and by 1895 boasted of a Flying Jenny, swings, a ten pin bowling alley, a theater, a dance pavilion, a roller coaster, and ball throwing games of every description. Late in the summer of '95, the Edgefield Land Company made a proposal to the committee that was looking for a site on which to hold the Tennessee Centennial Celebration.  "If your committee decide to locate at Shelby park, as an extra inducement to both your committee and also the city, if they should want to buy the 100 acres at $10,000, we will make the city a donation of fifty additional acres for park purposes."  It was not to be of course.

When the summer began in June of 1896, the park was no longer the lively place it had been just the year before. It was reported that large crowds were taking the street cars out to the park and enjoying the shade and the park grounds.  But the attractions that had brought so many people out, were gone and many people were now drawn to Glendale Park.

In August of 1896, a committee formed to plan a Labor Day celebration, selected Shelby Park as the site for the big day.  There were complaints that park was too remote, and over grown with weeds.   The complainers stated that, the park was "in bad repair and entirely without shelter if it should rain on Labor Day." Apparently the large tent was gone, along with the Flying Jenny. The committee won out however, and went to work preparing the park for the celebration.   It was very successful and by noon on Labor Day about 2,500 people were at the park.  A dance was held in a grove of shade trees and there a good breeze kept the heat at bay.  By late afternoon, there more 6,000 attendees.  Many brought picnic suppers, and others had a dinner of barbecue that prepared for the day.

Near the end of 1896, the United Electric Railway was reorganized under the name Nashville Railway.  Edgefield Land Company filed suit to make certain that the contract terms they had made with United Electric would be carried out by the Nashville Railway. The land company wanted Nashville Railway to fulfill the obligation of  United Electric to run a street car out to 20th Street, every thirty minutes, which had not been done since June.  There were also several other suits brought against the railway company.  In 1897, the Crutcher sisters, Fannie Crutcher Yandell and Bettie Crutcher Maney, filed suit against the Edgefield Land Company. This litigation put Shelby Park in limbo for the rest of 1896 and most of 1897.  In 1898 the suit was settled in favor of the sisters, and Edgefield Land Company was order to settle with them, over the terms of for the park property, in the deed filed in 1890.  Edgefield Land Company deeded to the sisters land in the subdivision to satisfy the debt owed to them.

In 1898, the park was cleaned up, and a new focus was brought to the park.  It was still a choice location for company outings and Sunday School picnics, but the amusement attractions were gone.
A casino theater was built, near where the community center is now located.  The casino, much like its counterpart at Glendale Park would serve as a theater, as shelter for large gatherings and as dance pavilion. Management arranged for a summer slate of theatrical shows, starting with the Peruchi-Beldeni Company. From theatrical productions, with some vaudeville and variety acts thrown in, the group was an absolute hit.  A favorite among the crowds that gathered each night was the melodrama, Ten Nights in a Bar Room. The theater was at capacity for every performance and it was claimed that thousands were turned away.  The 1899 season was a repeat of the year before, with performances by theatrical companies, orchestras and local musical bands.  The balloon ascensions and picnics continued.  The park prospered under the hand of manager Yeatman Alley. The debut, in the park, of the Warograph, Edison's moving picture machine, happened in June of 1899, and it remained a popular attraction throughout the summer.

With the new century, the park became a quiet place. There were no more weekly newspaper notices of events at the parks, or reports that thousands had taken the street cars out.   Small groups still gathered for picnics and families came to enjoy the cooler air under the shade trees.  The casino theater was shuttered.  Manager Yeatman Alley had been employed to manage the casino at Glendale Park.  In 1902 Edgefield Land Company, offered the park for sale to the City of Nashville. Once again, the city declined and the park remained in private hands.

In 1903 a petition of bankruptcy was filed by several plaintiffs, including Mrs. Yandell and Mrs. Maney, the original sellers of the land, against the Edgefield Land Company.  The original suit filed in 1897, with the chancery court was revived, the Crutcher sisters once again asking for the debt owned to them by the land company to be paid.  In 1905 the chancellor ruled that the park land owned by the land company must be placed in the hands of a trustee for the benefit of the Fannie Yandell and Bettie Maney. John W. Barr was appointed trustee.  For some time, he leased the 150 acres of land to W. D. Moore.  Moore used the former park land as a cattle range and to grow crops.  He allowed neighborhood residents to have limited use of the park land.

In 1906, the park property was offered, once more, for sale to Nashville for use as a park. There was interest in the part of park board, but the city council did not support the plan.

In January of 1908, the park board appointed Major E. C. Lewis to investigate acquiring the property for the city. In April, an article appeared in the Nashville American, pointing out the assets of the park.  The tract was near the city limits and easily accessible by street car.  The river frontage was not available in any other park, and could be used for fishing, swimming and boating.  The high points of the park were wooded and shady.  The lower land could be developed for baseball, tennis and play grounds.

Finally in October of 1909, a deed was made, from trustee John W. Barr, to F. P. McWhirter, Chairman of the Board of Parks, for 151.4 acres of land, in return for $40,000.   

This sale ended the private ownership of the first Shelby Park, and was the beginning of the creation of a new Shelby Park, owned by the citizens of Nashville.

Below are some of the news clippings and other items that aided me in putting together this history of the first Shelby Park.

The Daily American,   March 29, 1890

Edgefield Land Co. 1st Addition, surveyed Apr. 25, 1890 by W. B. Ross.  Plat book 57, page 130


The Daily American, Sunday, July 24, 1892

The Daily American, June 18, 1893

The Daily American, Sept. 3. 1893

The Daily American, July 7, 1894

The Nashville American, July 5, 1895

The Nashville American, Aug. 17, 1895

The Nashville American, Sept. 8, 1896

The Nashville American, June 14, 1898

The Nashville American,, July 24, 1898

The Nashville American, July 22, 1898

Ten Nights in a Bar-Room

The Nashville American, August 20, 1899

The Nashville American,August 23, 1899

The Nashville American, May 21, 1899

The Nashville American,July 5, 1900

The Nashville American, August 21, 1903

The Nashville American,June 30, 1904

The Nashville American, July 16, 1905

The Nashville American, October 4, 1905

The Nashville American, August 19, 1906

The Nashville American, August 9, 1908

The Nashville American, August 9, 1908

The Nashville American, September 15, 1909