Filene's, Jordan Marsh, Gilchrist's, even Woolworth, all names from downtown's past now. But don't forget R.H. Stearn's, at Tremont and Temple Place, which once rivaled Filene's and Jordan Marsh as a regional retailing company.
Its flagship ten-story building, finished in 1909, still stands at Tremont Street and Temple Place. Even the original metal awnings are still there - although somebody, for some reason, removed the "R.H." from them sometime after the store closed in 1978.
The building, now home to apartments for the elderly and disabled and a couple of small shops, still retains its original outside detailing, including stone faces peering down at you from near the roof:
To the stars!
The architects at Parker, Thomas & Rice loved their fish:
At the time, Boston architects also loved them some allusions to Babylonian mythology:
The store was founded by Richard H. Stearns in 1847. After World War II, the store opened outlets in newfangled suburban shopping malls - and in downtown Wellesley (in a building that later became a Filene's before that, too, shut).
Leslie Jones captured the scene outside the Tremont Street store, possibly in the 1950s:
Shopping Days in Retro Boston describes the store, which appealed to ladies of a certain age:
Stearns was prim and very proper…no frills and no gimmicks allowed! Stearns maintained a very loyal shopping clientele and they were very much, by the 1960’s, older ladies of the city and local Boston suburbs. Changing times did not change Stearns…well, not until 1975 with a new owner and some very modern ideas. Sadly, even with all this new identity and five modern branches by 1970, the store folded by 1978. Boston lost its “grand” store…the last really old style Boston store left…and with it died the vision of the “little old lady from Beacon Hill” image.
The Department Store Museum lists which departments were on which floors.
You can see the ghosts of its old markings from Washington Street:
Leslie Jones photo posted under this Creative Commons license.