Herpolsheimer Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan



Read about Herpolsheimer's in
Michael Hauser's new book


The new, ultramodern Herpolsheimer store casued a stir
when it was announced after World War II.  The store
was to replace their older 10-story building on Monroe Avenue,
which was purchased and reopened by Wurzburg's in 1951.


The building, as constructed, reflected postwar optimism,
and if anything, made more of an impression than the architect's
renderings which forecast it, prior to its opening in 1949.

The dramatically-illuminated store, with its 3-story glass vestibule
entrance, was one of the most modern and attractive in the United
States.  A large American Flag was often hung on display.

Herpolsheimer Co. (1870)
1 Monroe
Grand Rapids, Michigan

GL 9-5119


DOWNTOWN STORE DIRECTORY (348,000 sq. ft.)

Basement
Fashion Basement

Louis Street Level
Toys • Sporting Goods • Paints • Garden Shop • Appliances • Electronics Center The Kent Room Restaurant • Records

Street Floor
Monroe Fine Jewelry • Jewelry • Leather Goods • Gloves • Accessories • Hat Bar • Cosmetics • Men's Furnishings • Men's Sportswear • Men's Clothing • Men's Shoes • The Sir Shop
Division World of Shoes • Forecast Sportswear • Hosiery
Motorstairs Esquire Smoke Shop • Candy • Blouses • Sweaters • Boys' Wear • Boys' Furnishings
Fulton Street Linens • Fabrics • Art Needlework • Notions • Stationery • Books • Optical Shop • Luncheonette

Second Floor
Monroe Lingerie • Corsetiere Shop • Housecoats • Sleepwear • Robes • Jr. Sportswear • Junior Dresses • Junior Coats • Seventeen Shop • Pin Money Dresses • Daytime Dresses • World of Dresses • Moderate Dresses • Suburban Shop
Division One Shop • Coats • Suits • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon
Motorstairs Blouses • Millinery • Wigs
Fulton Street The Kent Room Restaurant • Beauty Salon
Louis Street Sportswear • Shoe Salon • Infants' Wear • Infants' Furniture • Heaven to Seven Shop • Toddlers' Wear • Girls' Wear • Miss Kent Shop • Teen Shop • Photo Reflex Studio

Third Floor
Monroe Luggage • Furniture • Sleep Center
Division Draperies • Carpeting
Motorstairs
Fulton Street Lamps
Louis Street Gift Shop • Pictures and Mirrors • Housewares Center • China • Silver • Glassware • White-Elna Sewing Center



BRANCH STORES

Hardy Herpolsheimer Co.
Western Avenue
Muskegon, Michigan
















25 comments:

  1. Fun fact: After Herpolsheimer's closed, this building was remodeled into a mall in attempt to revive downtown shopping. After that failed, it was turned into a mall that targeted infants and young children. It's now a police station.

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  2. Was this the department store featured in the movie "The Polar Express"?

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  3. I remember the ride in the basement. It was on a track attached to the ceiling and you would sit in a little car and ride around the basement overlooking it. That's when I was a little guy of course.

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  4. Over the past year 2010–2011, the suspended monorail train which debuted in 1949 as "Santa Express" is being restored. It will one day be installed in the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Van Andel Center.

    http://www.grmuseum.org/collections/stories/train

    Great work BAK! How far back are you writing about these Grand Rapids Department Stores? There's some great photo resources I can point you in their direction.

    James Winslow (Powers Behind Grand Rapids)

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  5. I found a very old beautiful little dish belonging to my great aunt. On the bottom it reads, "Decorated Expressley for Herpolsheimer Co. It has a number on it as 11. I am trying to read the artist. Something like Hodis or Hoelie. Do you have any idea of the who the artist could be.
    Thank you. Kathy

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  6. I remember when I was little, and this was then the City Center mall, my grandma took me there and I rode the train! :-)

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  7. What an GREAT piece of post war modern architecture.

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  8. I loved this store when I was little. I remember I called it "Purplescheimers" because of the purple train. My favorite memories are of the fountain that shot up at different heights, the glass elevator, the food court, the cool train on the ceiling, and this really cool store called The Great Divide. Half of the store was U of M and the other half was MSU. Even the carpet was different on each side!

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  9. I worked at Herpolsheimers from 1963 to 1969. Starting pay was $1.25 an hour. I started in the Photo Studio, but eventually worked in most of the departments. It was a wonderful place to work.

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  10. Im seeking information and photos of the Wurzburgs store in downtown Grand Rapids. My grandmother was personnel director there early in the 60's

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  11. Herpolshiemer's also had it's first and only suburban store in the Southland Mall in Wyoming, MI purchased from Wurzburg's and opened in 1974 (see Wurzburg's Southland)

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  12. One holiday season I worked in the toy department of Herpolsheimers. what a joy filled time caring for the dolls in the Toy Department~!!!

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  13. Have come across a (Grand Rapids)Herpolsheimer's mink cape (black). It is in excellent condition... Just wondering how to get information about the item and maybe what it could be worth.

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  14. My mother bought her fine hosiery here and I can't remember the brand . . . do you know what it was? Or what brands they carried? It's been driving me crazy and my sisters can't remember either!

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  15. I don't know a lot about ladies' hosiery, but some brands sold by department stores at the time included Belle Sharmeer, Hanes, Berkshire, Christian Dior, and Triumph.

    BAK

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  16. Can you name some of the stores and restaurants that were in the old City Center Mall?

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  17. An old Hardy Hepolsheimer fur coat came into our thrift shop, I am wondering about value of the coat. Do you know anything about this, or do you have any references that I could maybe contact regarding the coat? Thanks!

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  18. Any pics of the Wyoming store??

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  19. The Wyoming store was acquired from Wurzburg's - and a picture can be found on that page. I am currently in early planning stages for a book about Grand Rapids department stores, which should come out in 2014 or 2015, and I am sure that will tell the whole story in detail.
    Bruce

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  20. While the train was pretty cool, my favorite memories are the huge blueberry muffins, they were the best I've ever eaten and the Christmas window displays. I remember so many walks along the outside of the building to look at those moving displays. I wish I could give those memories to my children and grandchildren. Those were such marvelous times.

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  21. BAK, do you know yet when your book will be released? I am definitely interested! :) I was born in '77 so Herpolsheimer's was before my time, but my parents have great memories of that place from when they were kids! I remember the City Center Mall from when I was a kid. I loved the train they had around the ceiling and I remember my mom telling me that she had ridden it too when it was Herpolsheimer's. I know the City Center wasn't as grand as the original store was, but I have good memories of that place anyway. I wish I could have seen Herpolsheimer's though when it was in its prime! I have never met anyone who did not love their memories of that store! It is such a shame that building was ever remodeled from its original mid-century modern design. Now it's just a big brick building housing the Grand Rapids Police Station! Not nearly as cool.

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  22. One more thing... have you ever done any research on Du Mez Department Store that was in Holland, MI? I'm not sure when it opened but it closed sometime in the 80's. I remember going there when I was a young child. Here is a link to a picture of what the building currently looks like. It now has other stores in its building.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/eridony/3550815145/

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  23. Love this site and particularly the sections about Grand Rapids department stores. I work in entertainment and my production company is currently working on getting a Christmas movie made that is time travel. The main character steps back in time in to a department store in Grand Rapids, Michigan circa 1960's called Herpolburg's. A combination of Herpolsheimer's & Wurzburg's. Not only are we working on making a movie we are also looking to recreate the department store in the former public museum and also decorate the downtown area in vintage decorations as well. We then are going to open the set as an exhibit for the community to enjoy. One of the things we are doing is refurbishing the Herpolsheimer's train that hung from the ceiling that so many are talking about. The movie is titled "The Santa Hat" and co-stars Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show & Up) and Marion Ross (Happy Days and Gilmore Girls) I would love to talk to you more about your research that you are doing for your book. You can learn more about what we are up to and how people can help out at www.TheSantaHat.com

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  24. Reading about old downtown Grand Rapids and the department stores, has brought back many wonderful memories. As a small child my Mom would take my twin sister and me shopping downtown to Herps, Wurzburg's, and Steketee's - (we would usually hide in the racks of clothing and not answer when she called our names). We would usually end up in Herpolsheimer's for there famous soft serve, malted milk, ice cream cones. That was before Dairy Queen and all the other soft serve places came about. The malted milk flavor soft serve was the best ever and I haven't seen it sold in any place other than Herp's. As a teenager we'd shop downtown and after high school, as an employee of Sentry Insurance, located on the 5th floor of the Keeler Bldg, I'd shop during my lunch hour and sometime after work. What a great experience. Something I'd love to have back again.

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