Historic Structures

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store, Albany Georgia

Date added: September 25, 2022 Categories: Georgia Commercial Department Store

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store is significant as one of Albany's largest and most successful historic retail enterprises, and it illustrates Albany's growing importance as a regional trade center in the early twentieth century. Rosenberg's is believed to be the oldest commercial establishment in Albany which has been continuously operated by the same family. The store has additional significance as an early example of the chain" store which has become such an omni-present part of twentieth century commerce. The Rosenbergs opened their first store in Troy, Alabama in 1894. In 1896, Jacob Rosenberg opened a branch in Albany, having met and married Annie Cohn of Albany and having decided to settle there. The store was established from the first with a "One-Price-to-All" plan, which deviated from the nineteenth century merchants' practice of bargaining with customers and established Rosenberg's as a model of modern merchandising practices in the area. Using this retailing system the store flourished. By 1905 it had outgrown its original quarters, and new quarters were obtained by buying out an existing dry goods store at the present location at the corner of Pine Avenue and Washington Street. In 1911, the Rosenbergs bought this building outright and continued to expand until this facility, also became too small. In 1923, the adjacent building on Washington Street burned and shortly after, the Rosenberg brothers purchased that property. The present structure was built in two stages in 1923- 1924 so the store could continue in operation while construction was underway. First built was the south half, on the site of. the burned building; when it was completed, the merchandise was transferred there, the old store was demolished and the second, north half of the store was constructed on the old foundation. The opening of the new store in 1924 established Rosenberg's undisputed claim as Albany's largest and finest department store. This was a time of great prosperity in Albany, due primarily to the city's excellent rail connections, and Rosenberg's was one of a number of major buildings to be constructed during the period. Rosenberg's continued operation at this downtown location until 1978, two years after a mall branch was opened and the downtown store was judged no longer profitable.

Gray Communications bought and renovated the building in 1985 to house the Albany Herald.

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store, built in 1923-1924, is a three story brick Second Renaissance Revival Style commercial building located on a corner city lot in the downtown business district of Albany, Dougherty County, Georgia.

The north and west elevations of the building which face Pine Avenue and Washington Street respectively are finished with tan-glazed brick laid in stretcher bond and limestone and concrete trim. The east and south walls, which respectively face onto an alley and serve as a party wall with the adjacent building, are finished with a lesser grade brick laid in common bond. The nearly square building has a flat roof which slopes gently to the east. The treatment of the two main five-bay facades is composed of a t.ri-partite horizontal arrangement with different window treatments on each floor. The first floor, where the brick is laid in horizontal bands to look like rusticated stone, has massive round arched openings detailed in limestone-cement with large radiating voussoirs and side quoining. On the front, west facade two plate glass display windows set in these archways are located to either side of the central main entrance. A canopy shades the entire west facade, separating the display windows and entrance from the lunettes above. On the north facade three truncated archways in the central bays are flanked by an arch with a display window in the western most bay and a group of small sash windows and a small bricked in entrance in the archless easternmost bay. Shallow brick pilasters, resting on a prominent string course which accentuates the division between the first and second floors, divide the bays on the second and third floors. Double hung sash windows, with transoms for added height on the second floor, are grouped in twos on the west facade and threes on the north facade. All have shouldered architrave trim, and the taller windows on the second floor are further accentuated with prominent cornices. A pressed metal entablature with denticulated cornice wraps around the parapet roof and the building is capped with a balustrade. In the 1950's, a new north entrance was cut under the central archway on this facade and the original small door further to the east was bricked in. In the 1960 f s the original doors on the west facade were replaced with aluminum doors.

The store's interior consisting of a basement, three floors and first floor mezzanine office area along the east side, features large open sales areas surrounded by dressing rooms and "employees only" areas created by non-historic and non-permanent partitions. Restrooms, elevators and a closed stairway are located along the east wall. The building is supported by twelve pillars that rise up through all three floors, and by reinforced steel beams on the basement and first two floors and heavy timber beams salvaged from an earlier building on the third. Pillars and beams are boxed, and walls, ceilings and these boxed elements are all plastered. Original tongue and groove hardwood floors have been covered with carpet and linoleum tile. The heating and air conditioning systems date from the 1950's, but many of the original radiators are intact. A solid brass system of pneumatic cashier tubes manufactured by the Lamson Company of Boston, Massachusetts is intact and dates from early in the building's history. 1950's elevators replaced earlier cage-type units.

The Rosenberg Brothers Department Store has no landscaping. It sits on a corner lot at the intersection of Pine Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Albany surrounded by sidewalks on its north and west sides, a narrow alley that separates it from another building on its east side, and an adjoining building on the south. The west sidewalk is laid with historic hexagonal concrete tiles. The north sidewalk is laid over an underground vault which connects with the building's basement. Rosenberg f s is the important corner anchor of rows of historic commercial structures that extend along Pine Avenue and Washington Streets in Albany's central business district. It is one of the largest buildings in the area.