Lasalle, Koch and Company Department Store - Macys, Toledo Ohio

Date added: May 28, 2022 Categories: Ohio Retail Department Store

The City of Toledo grew rapidly after the Civil War. From 1870 to 1930 Toledo became an import commercial and manufacturing city, as well as the third largest rail center in the nation and a major shipping point for coal and iron. The Lasalle, Koch and Company Department Store was constructed in 1917 as an outgrowth of the prosperity, and is an unusually handsome commercial building of the period. Designed in the ideal of formal and classical beauty of the Second Renaissance Revival style, this building represents several early skyscraper construction methods. The most notable features are the great Roman arcade on the ground floor and the Corinthian colonnade on the seventh and eighth floors, as well as the use of early reinforced concrete technology. Built before the Depression impacted the Toledo economy, it is one of the finest, as well as one of the last major department stores to be built in Downtown Toledo.

The building was designed for one of the oldest dry goods stores in the City of Toledo. The company began when Jacob Lasalle and Joseph Epstein opened their first dry goods store on September 13, 1865. In 1880, Lasalle merged with the firm of Joseph Koch. On November 13, 1917, Lasalle, Koch and Company opened a new store at Adams and Huron Streets. The move was considered risky, as they were the first dry goods company to move outside of the traditional clothing district. The building was acclaimed by one local newspaper as the "finest department store between New York and Chicago." The company joined New York based R. H. Macy Company in 1924 and operated the store in downtown Toledo under the name of Lasalle's until 1981 when the name was changed to Macy's. Macy's closed its downtown store in 1984, and later sold its Midwest area stores to the Elder-Beerman department store chain. Lasalles was the last of the four major Downtown department stores to close in Toledo. The first to close was Tiedke's in 1972, whose building was destroyed by a fire in 1975. The second was Lamsons, the last of the locally owned downtown department stores, which closed in 1974. Its former building at Jefferson Avenue and Huron Street is now the One Lake Erie Center office building. The third was the Lion Store, which closed its facility at Adams and St. Clair streets in 1980, and was later demolished.

The architecture of the Lasalle, Koch and Company Building is notable among Toledo department stores and in Toledo's building assemblage in general. The Tiedke's and Lion Store buildings were the result of successive, rather disjointed building episodes and architectural expression. Although the Lamson's Building is similar to Lasalles's it is a more generic representation lacking the high style elements that distinguish the Lasalle's building. The Lasalle's building is therefore the best example of the Second Renaissance Revival style among Toledo's department stores and is one of the few commercial buildings erected in this style in the city. It is further distinguished by its nine-story height because most buildings erected in the style were composed of from three to five stories.

The Lasalle, Koch and Company Department Store has made a significant contribution to the surrounding community. The nineteen display window were used for a variety of special exhibits at various times throughout the company's existence. Each year the public would flock to see the annual Christmas display which used the latest animation technology. In February 1927, the Lasalle, Koch and Company display windows housed the "novel" exhibit of paintings depicting industrial scenes by the noted artist Arthur Covey. In September 1940, the same nineteen display windows housed moving exhibits depicting the industrial progress of Toledo and some of its achievements. Many people working Downtown would spend their lunch hour eating at one of Lasalle's restaurants and browsing the main aisle on the first floor, a tradition that lasted well into the early 1980's.

The Lasalle, Koch and Company Department Store was designed by the New York architects, Goldwyn Starrett and Joseph Van Vleck. In 1904, these two architects formed a partnership, in which they went on to design buildings together until Starrett's death in May of 1918. Among the important works of the firm were the Everett and Berkely Office Buildings, stores of Lord & Taylor and the Saxe Company, and offices of the Hall Publishing Company, all located in New York City. The Lasalle, Koch and Company Department Store was one of the last buildings designed by the firm when Starrett was active.

The building was constructed by the local firm of A. Bentley and Sons Company. The company was founded in Toledo in 1876 by Anderton Bentley (1845-1916). He was born in England and lived in Adrian, Michigan until he came to Toledo in 1872. The firm received defense contracts during World War I and became known for the many office buildings, churches and factories it built, especially in Toledo.