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 properâ€¦no frills and no gimmicks allowed! Stearns maintained a very loyal shopping clientele and they were very much, by the 1960â€™s, older ladies of the city and local Boston suburbs. Changing times did not change Stearnsâ€¦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 â€śgrandâ€ť storeâ€¦the last really old style Boston store leftâ€¦and with it died the vision of the â€ślittle old lady from Beacon Hillâ€ť 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.