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Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store

Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Reception to follow
Registration is required
Members $15

Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store

Anthony Mitchell Sammarco

Founded in 1851 by Eben Dyer Jordan and Benjamin Lloyd Marsh, Jordan Marsh opened their first store selling linen, silk, calicos, ribbons and assorted dry goods to Victorian Bostonians. Following the Civil War, the store moved from Pearl Street to Winthrop Square and later to Washington Street between Summer and Avon Streets where in its new five story building, designed by Bradlee, Winslow & Wetherell, they unveiled the novel concept of "department shopping" under one roof. From the late 19th century onward, Jordan Marsh was to offer a selection of goods that offered such things as clothing, furniture, children’s toys and a plethora of other goods that attracted shoppers six days a week. The store offered personal service, with the adage that the customer is always right, easy credit, art exhibitions, and musical performances. It soon became a treasured part of life for shoppers who went to town, especially during the holiday season with The Enchanted Village of Saint Nicholas.

By 1951 Jordan Marsh had expanded to the suburbs with its first store at Shopper’s World in Framingham and by the 1970’s it was the largest chain in New England. Many people mourned when Jordan Marsh was sold, and the Macy's name went up on Jordan Marsh stores in 1995. Come hear about its fascinating history by the author of the upcoming history of this once important Boston department store.

Referred to as the “Balzac of Boston History” by the Boston Globe, Anthony Mitchell Sammarco is a noted historian and author of over sixty books on the history and development of Boston, he lectures widely on the history and development of his native city. He has taught at The Urban College of Boston since 1997, where his courses led to him being named Educator of the Year. He has received the Bulfinch Award, the Washington Medal from Freedom Foundation, a lifetime achievement from the Victorian Society and the Gibson House Museum, and was named Dorchester town historian. He is currently writing Community Boating in Boston and S.S. Pierce: A Boston Tradition. Sammarco lives in Boston and in Osterville on Cape Cod.