Wednesday, August 30, 2006

May Company Store sign

University Heights, Ohio - 1957

Wonderful old May Co. department store sign (with bell!) in University Heights, Ohio. What a great and unique design. I had never seen one like this before (but then, I've never followed May stores much).

According to this info at Wikipedia and elsewhere, it appears that (if I'm piecing it all together correctly) this original May store became a Kaufmann's in 2002, and is currently being converted into a Macy's (Wikipedia shows 9/9/2006, as the actual finished conversion date), as the enitre site has undergone a complete redevelopment to form the new outdoor regional shopping center, University Square. Or something like that anyway--it's quite a tangled web, this story, lol.

But the logistics and dates aside, I just thought this great sign was worth gazing at today.

Mall history: n/a
Current website: n/a
Current aerial view
Resource articles: 1, 2, 3
Previous entries: none

(photos courtesy & © Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library)


Anonymous Jeff said...

It seems to me that the original May Co store was torn down for the Kauffman's store. I may be wrong though.

Wed Aug 30, 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Yeah, I think so, jeff. To be honest, my head started hurting trying to figure it all out with that place, lol.

So the heck with it. I just like the purty entrance sign with a bell in it. :D

Wed Aug 30, 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Swain said...

I hope I can help you claify some of this. Theis particular May Comnpany store was built as a freestanding location, and opened in 1957. It had been a Kaufmann's from 1992 until when it was demolished for a new store on the same site in 2002.

Back when it was constructed, this brance was considered state of the art, with its two entrance levels and semi-detatched restaurant with its own angled (?) roof and seperate entrance, so that it could operate independent of the store on Sundays. I saw it in a library book back in the day.

Wed Aug 30, 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

I live in Ohio currently and it's so cool to see something from the past, ecspecially if it's where I currently live!

Thu Aug 31, 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

This is a very unique piece of signage. I wonder if they ever rung that bell and on what occasions.

May is another one of those US chains I'm not familiar with, probably because they didn't operate in those parts of the US I've visited.

Any chance of seeing McAlpin's, Lazarus or Gayfers stores sometime?

Thu Aug 31, 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Q109 said...

The bell sign is still there. It's been updated -- incorporated into a new "University Square blah blah" sign -- but it's still a weird round sign with a bell in it.

I'll get a pic next week.

It's in the grassy lower right corner here

Sat Sep 02, 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Audrey said...

Just passing through, and wanted to say I enjoyed this post. I am a fairly avid shopper, and also get a kick out of old commercials from the sixties and seventies.

Sat Sep 09, 06:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Lader said...

My grandfather was head of The May Company in Cleveland at the time the store opened its first branch,on November 1, 1957. "May's on the Heights," as it was locally referred to, was the first complete branch of any department store in the Cleveland area. (The Halle Brothers Co. had opened a limited branch store at Shaker Square many years earlier.)

As for the bell, it had been located originally atop the May Company store downtown on Public Square. When the University Heights store was being planned, the decision was made to relocate the bell at the corner of the property, the busy intersection of Cedar and Warrensville Center Roads, where it would be more visible. The thought was that people would get into the habit of saying to one another, "Meet me under the bell."

I don't believe that particular habit ever caught on, but the bell and its unique signage certainly became a readily recognizable element of the visual landscape of Cleveland's eastern suburbs.

You did a good job of ferreting out the corporate history. When the parent May Department Stores Co. consolidated divisions in the 1990's, its Ohio Stores (May Company Cleveland and M. O'Neil Co. in Akron) became part of Kaufmann's, headquartered in Pittsburgh. Now that the entire May chain was bought by Federated Department Stores, everything is becoming Macy's.

The 1957 May's on the Heights store became a Kaufmann's branch before being razed for the building of University Square, which included a smaller Kaufmann's (now Macy's) branch.

From an aesthetic point of view, if nothing else, it was a giant step backward!

Sun Oct 08, 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Such a GREAT picture for a GREAT branch of The May Co.. The store did operate as Kaufmann's for some time after division consolidation and then the site was raised for a small, very tight "mall" type complex including a new smaller Kaufmann's store as well as a Target and a Tops grocery which is now closed and I am unaware of what happened to the Tops store. When they tore down the freestanding May Co. - it was difficult -- the building was built with classic old fashioned American strength and engeneering and would probably have stood another 200 years.

Wed Mar 19, 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger BWChicago said...

The branch was a Victor Gruen design. The tower part had a mezzanine floor on each level to seperate floor service from other activities.

Wed Nov 05, 12:12:00 PM  

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