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CLEVELAND'S GOLDEN STORY

 

CHAPTER VIII

CLEVELAND'S GOLDEN FACADE

Euclid Avenue is Cleveland's golden façade. It is one of a trio of notable retail promenades---Fifth Avenue, State Street and Euclid Avenue. This proud thoroughfare was once a long Indian trail. Moccasined feet trod the narrow path, now widened to the motor-way, where passes the flower of civilization. The old trails followed west to east on the crest of the ancient beach lines. Sandy and well-drained, they formed comfortable highways for the Redskin.

The original plan of the city did not provide for Euclid Avenue. The village added the road as a convenient way to the east, surveying it in 1816. Its scholastic name was derived from Euclid township, through which it passed. The township was named by its founder, a surveyor, after Euclid, the nestor of mathematicians.

 


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The first broad way provided for the Western Reserve by the Connecticut Land Company was based on the Indian trail which became Euclid. It was the route of stage couches and freight wagons for Buffalo and therefore often called the "Buffalo Road." A man destined to become Governor of Ohio, Samuel Huntington, in 1802, had an encounter with wolves on the Euclid road at what is now East 55th Street. Mounted on his horse, he battled the pack with an umbrella --- his only armament. They followed him to the edge of the little settlement west of the Public Square.

A panther known and feared was killed on Euclid in 1810. Thus ended the destructive beast who dared to make war on man. Oxen drew stone-boats through the mud, taking children to school and families to the Meeting House on Sunday. In 1840, Euclid was planked and the destiny of the street determined.

The acre of land on which the William Taylor Son and Company's store now stands was purchased by the Connecticut Land Company for forty cents. The next sale recorded of this land was at seven thousand dollars. The estimate d value placed on it now is two million dollars.

Euclid was graded and trees were planted in 1860. Euclid Avenue then came into a distinction accorded to but few streets in the world. To give Euclid as one's address wad a credential

 


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recognized in every centre of culture in the world. Brush, Chisholm, Wade, Rockefeller, King, Wellman, Johnson, Pack, Brown and Mather were some of the men whose residences made Euclid a hall of fame.

Commerce slowly, but like an irresistible tide, invaded the street. The street railroad came in 1860. The street became an avenue in 1870. Once the street was a haven of quiet and repose. More people pass East Ninth Street and Euclid in a quarter of an hour today than lived in the city in 1835.

The decline of Euclid as a residence street and its dedication to business has its compensations. The city is doing something unique for its new beautification. Had Euclid retained its old status, the business district would have shifted to a less formal lay-out. The municipal group plan, which contemplates the transformation of that part of the city which forms its foyer, will, as Julian Street says, "Give Cleveland a certain right to call herself, first city."

On Euclid Avenue there are many establishments which historically, artistically and commercially rank with the noblest institutions of their kind in the world. Many of these houses trace a direct ancestry to Cleveland's oldest stores.

Cleveland's first merchant was Nathan Perry, who sold drygoods in 1809. From Perry's

 


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Corners, now West Ninth Street, a trade district extended eastward along Superior Street to the Square. In Nathan Perry's day, competition was exceedingly keen and frank. One merchant would call attention to another's deficiencies.

Nathan Perry published an advertisement in which he affirmed that though his list of goods was not as long as some of his neighbors' on paper, they were to be found on his shelves! He directly stated that the small White Store, a later competitor of his, made pretensions which were largely puffs for cheap merchandise. But Sir Advertisement has become a gentleman since Perry's day.

George Worthington, the adventurous son of a hatter, came to Cleveland in 1829. He readily saw a chance of supplying canal diggers with good tools. He doubled his money in his transactions and invested it in a stock of hardware. The hatter's son founded the present George Worthington Company, Cleveland's oldest business house.

The early '30s were natal years for Cleveland's stores. John Vincent opened a cabinet shop in a cooperage on Mandrake Lane near the present high level bridge. The boom of 1836 brought many people from the east. Travel was so beset with difficulties that furniture could not be transported. Accordingly, the Vincent store prospered. The Vincent – Barstow Store on

 


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Euclid traces to the Vincent shop of ninety years ago.

In 1860, Cleveland's retail centre was west of the Square near West Sixth Street. It took some courage on the part of Hower and Higbee to open their store one door east of what was then Seneca Street---now West Third Street. But they prospered. The Higbee Company with its establishment on Euclid is the result.

In 1845, W. S. Beckwith opened a store in Cleveland for the sale of floor coverings. There were no rugs in those days, nothing but carpets in lengths. In 1849, Frederick A. Sterling became a factor in the Beckwith business. In 1886, George P. Welch entered the firm known today as the Sterling and Welch Company.

In 1873, Cleveland's first carpet and interior decoration house, under the direction of Mr. Sterling, moved into a famous skating-rink between the residence of Dr. Cushing and Taylor Store.

One afternoon in 1877, the carpets were packed under the galleries and the store decorated for the Charity Ball to be held in the evening. When dressed for such an event, the only reminder of the fact that the ball was held in a store was the fact that the musician's platform was composed of a huge pile of carpets.

The Sterling and Welch Company was among the first houses to venture on upper

 


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Euclid. Its present building constitutes one of the three greatest commercial galleries of decorative art in America today.

A talented young man named Webb C. Ball came along and opened a shop at the corner of Superior Street and West Third Street to make and repair watches. His inventions attracted notice. He standardized the railroad time out of Cleveland which is known today as Ball's time. The store of Webb C. Ball on Euclid is part of the great Ball time organization.

The first department store in Cleveland was McGillin's on Superior Street opposite Ball's. McGillin's neighbor was Paddock and Son, furriers and hatters. Halle Brothers in 1891 succeeded the Paddock Store, and the business, as the Halle Brothers Company, was moved to upper Euclid.

In April of 1870, William Taylor with Thomas Kilpatrick as junior partner, founded the firm of Taylor, Kilpatrick and Company, to do a general dry-goods business in the Cushing block at the south-east corner of the Public Square. The site was formerly the home of Dr. Erastus Cushing whose name and fame live in the professional and commercial annals of Cleveland.

Both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Kilpatrick had long been "in dry-goods," as they say in Scotland. They came from Hogg, Brown and Taylor's store in Boston, then the largest dry-goods house

 


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In America, of which Mr. Taylor's elder brother was a managing partner.

The high-class retail section of Cleveland was, prior to 1870, confined to Superior Street. Dr. Erastus Cushing, by means of much persuasion, induced the proprietors of the projected Taylor-Kilpatrick store to locate on Euclid and the Public Square in opposition to the advice of local commercial prophets. The Taylor-Kilpatrick store pioneered the commercial conquest of Euclid Avenue.

The inaugural announcement of the Taylor-Kilpatrick store in the "Cleveland Herald" is worthy of reproduction for its statement of principles, its graceful literary quality and its prophetic setting-forth of principles now accepted as the ethics of merchandising:

"We will open on Thursday, April 21st, with an entirely new stock of dry-goods, suitable for the season and complete in every department. Our goods are bought in the present low market and will be sold exclusively at the one-price system at popular prices.

"The store is large, convenient and well lighted and we think the locality will commend it to public favor. We will adopt the one-price system without variation, and will therefore mark the article at the lowest living profit.

"Please, therefore, give us a trial and judge for yourselves. You will find a new store, new

 


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goods, popular prices, one price for all, good light, fair dealing, and we trust prompt attention.

"Taylor, Kilpatrick & Co."

There were thirty-six salesmen in the new store. On certain evenings of the week one could shop until ten o'clock. The goods were displayed under the light of "ten large chandeliers."

The motto of the British merchant, Sir Thomas Gresham, engraved on his portrait made in 1544 and which now hangs in Mercer's Hall, London, is "Love, Serve and Obey." The motto of William Taylor and his partner was, "Honesty in word and ware,"---a phrase used in one of their early announcements.

William Taylor fathered in the Middle West a revolutionary principle in retailing. This principle is today followed by the leading merchants as a moral principle, deviation from which is considered no less than commercial crime.

Mr. Taylor insisted upon the observance of the one-price system in his store without variation. This meant the same price on a given piece of goods to every customer.

Prior to this period, a great deal depended upon the persistence of the customer or the mood of the merchant as to the final price of an article. The more subtle manner of selling was to offer an item marked fifty dollars at, say, forty "as a special favor to you."

 


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The Taylor business creed as first voiced by its founders is observed to the final letter today. The original standards of the founders of the business are observed. They are the unseen mentors of the store policy.

The first change in the personnel of the firm came in 1885 when Mr. John Livingstone Taylor, the only son of the senior partner, at the age of twenty-four years, was admitted to partnership. Mr. Kilpatrick withdrew from the firm in 1886, removing to Chicago. The firm then assumed the name of William Taylor Son and Company. The passing of Mr. William Taylor occurred in 1887. Mr. John Livingstone Taylor died in 1892. At the demise of her husband, John Livingstone Taylor, Sophia Strong Taylor succeeded to the business and is now president of the company and controlling owner.

The business established by the senior Taylor and so ably developed by his son is sincerely carried on in accordance with the principles and policies outlined by them. The Taylor Store is in spirit exactly the same institution that, with high hopes and unusual ideals, made its first bid for public approval in 1870.

The Taylor Store than occupied the first floor of the Cushing block. Their up-stairs neighbors were the Standard Oil Company and the Water Works Department of the city. Almost every year has witnessed an enlargement of the

 


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floor space. In 1890, the entire Cushing block was occupied by the Taylor Store.

In 1907, the present five-story building was erected at 630 Euclid Avenue. In 1913, four skyward stories were added. Since then the Clarence Building, adjoining Taylor Store on the west, has been acquired. The Clarence Building will be torn down and on is site an addition built in the same architectural style as the present building.

With all its rapid progress the house never compromised with its convictions. The founder was a Presbyterian of the school that put duty before gain. He insisted upon a strict observance of the Sabbath. The store has never issued Sunday advertising. The curtains of the show-windows are drawn and all work is absolutely suspended on Sunday.

William Taylor Son and Company celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the house with the proud knowledge that it has kept faith with its friends, the public. As one passes by the store with its windows in the noble style of the Renaissance, he contemplates the steady growth of this institution from the little dry-goods house on the Public Square --- whose greatest asset was the sturdy honesty of its founders.

Many institutions become mammoth by a single financial stroke on the part of a genius of organization. Taylor Store has grown with the

 


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sureness of a great tree. Year after year by the natural process the tree casts its shade and gives of its fruit. In turn it is supplied with nourishment as a reward for its faithfulness. So this house, which has sought to benefit the public, has been sustained.

It can be said with truth that never an hour of the working day passes but craftsmen and merchandisers in Orient and Occident are reminded of Euclid Avenue. The buyers and representatives of its stores are searching the world for desirable merchandise. However, emphasis is put on American goods.

Euclid Avenue in three wars --- the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the great World War --- became a street of banners in which the Stars and Stripes eloquently proclaimed the American spirit of Moses Cleaveland's city.

Going through the pages of your favorite newspaper is like a passage through Euclid Avenue. The advertisements of the Euclid Avenue merchants are their show-windows on paper.

The first newspaper in Cleveland was edited, printed and published by Andrew Logan, who was of Indian descent. He brought his press and type from Beaver, Pa., to issue a four-page sheet. Editions were often delayed for want of paper. The editor would make trips to the east and return with several months' supply.

 


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Logan's paper was "The Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register." It made its initial bow on July 31, 1818.

And there has never been a time since, in the intervening century, that Cleveland has been without a current record of its happenings. Though Logan suspended publication in March 1829, the "Cleveland Herald" had made its advent in 1819 with three hundred subscribers. For sixty-six years the "Cleveland Herald" helped to make public opinion. In 1885 its assets were divided between the two most powerful rivals, "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" and "The Cleveland Leader."

The "Cleveland Plain Dealer" first appeared in January, 1842, and was all that its name implies. It was the descendant of the "Cleveland Advertiser," established in 1831. For seventy-eight years the "Plain Dealer" has put in type the doings of Cleveland and its relation to the world.

The first edition of the "Plain Dealer" consisted of two pages. The present "Plain Dealer" utilizes one hundred and forty-five tons of paper in one day, and has a daily circulation of over one hundred and seventy-five thousand copies.

The "Cleveland Leader" appeared as the "Ohio American" of Ohio City in 1844. Edwin Cowles, a boy of eighteen, was its publisher in 1845. Re-named "The Leader" in 1854, it be-

 


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came an anti-slavery paper and was issued at sunrise instead of sundown. Edwin Cowles was of the Dana and Greeley type --- an editor of personality and power.

The daily and "Sunday Leader" were bought by Dan R. Hanna, son of the late Mark Hanna.

The daily "Leader" was sold to the "Plain Dealer" in the Fall of 1917, while the "Sunday Leader" was still printed under its former ownership.

Charles A. Otis, in 1907, combined his paper, the "Cleveland World," with the evening "Plain Dealer" and the "Evening News" to form the "Cleveland News," an evening newspaper.

The "Cleveland News" was later sold to Mr. Hanna. The "Sunday News-Leader" is now the Sunday edition of the "News." It is housed in the Leader-News Building, one of Cleveland's finest business structures.

The "Cleveland Press" was printed for the first time as "The Penny Press." It was founded by E. W. Scripps and John S. Sweeney. "The Press" grew with a rapidity that resulted in a chain of papers owned by Scripps-McRae.

In 1870, Cleveland had fourteen papers including the dailies and weeklies. Cleveland, today, has fourteen dailies of which four are in a foreign language. Over fifty-five weekly publications are issued in Cleveland and sixteen of these are in a foreign tongue.

 


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The Cleveland newspapers, like Euclid Avenue, Cleveland's golden façade, have changed to meet the temper of the times from the local to the cosmopolitan spirit which makes a city big and friendly.

 


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