H. P. Wasson and Company

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H. P. Wasson & Co.
Former type Department store
Industry Retail
Founded 1874
Defunct 1980
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana
Products men's, women's and children's clothing, footwear, jewelry, beauty products, bedding, housewares and home furnishings.
Website

None

H. P. Wasson & Company Building
H. P. Wasson and Company is located in Indiana
H. P. Wasson and Company
Location 2 W. Washington and 2 N. Meridian Sts., Indianapolis, Indiana
Coordinates 39°46′2″N 86°9′30″W / 39.76722°N 86.15833°W / 39.76722; -86.15833Coordinates: 39°46′2″N 86°9′30″W / 39.76722°N 86.15833°W / 39.76722; -86.15833
Area less than one acre
Built 1937
Architect Rubush & Hunter; Graham, Anderson, Probst, & White
Architectural style Art Deco
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 97001539[1]
Added to NRHP December 24, 1997

H. P. Wasson and Company, aka Wasson's, was an Indianapolis, Indiana, based department store chain founded by Hiram P. Wasson. Its flagship store, the H. P. Wasson & Company Building, was built in 1937 and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.[2]

History[edit]

H. P. Wasson bought the Bee Hive Drygoods Store in 1874, renaming it nine years later as H. P. Wasson and Company. With the death of H. P. Wasson in 1910, and his son Kenard Wasson in 1912, the store was sold to Gustave A. Efroymson and his brother-in-law Louis P. Wolf. The chain would eventually consist of seven stores with the flagship store located at 2 West Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis.

Efroymson was president of the company from 1912 to 1930.[3][4]

In 1930, a second store was built on Monument Circle on the site of the former Morton Hotel.[5] The entire second and parts of the third floors of the Monument Circle Annex store were destroyed in a fire on the evening of June 1, 1969.[6]

After the Korean War, Wasson's began to build new stores in the outdoor shopping centers that were being developed in new housing developments on the outskirts of suburban Marion County during the late 1950s and early 1960s. By the early 1960s, first shopping centers and then enclosed malls were being build inside and also in nearby communities outside of Marion County. Branch stores were built in a shopping center in Kokomo and enclosed malls in Anderson and Bloomington. The open air shopping center locations at Eastgate and Kokomo were later converted into enclosed malls.

Louis C. Wolf became president in 1963 upon the retirement of his father Walter E. Wolf, who remained CEO. He was killed in a plane crash in Alaska during a hunting trip while piloting a new single-engine Cesna in August 1967 at the age of 40. Members of his family sold the company in October of the same year to Goldblatt's.[7] Expansion and new development of the firm died upon Louis C.'s death.

In September 1967, Richard L. Glasser was appointed president and CEO while Walter E. Wolf, Sr. remained chairman of the board of directors.[8]

There were a total of seven stores by the time Wasson's was acquired by Goldblatt's of Chicago in 1967, which included three stores in Indianapolis-area shopping centers and in malls located in the cities of Kokomo, Anderson, and Bloomington.[7][9][10][11] The Goldblatt's acquisition of Wasson's was not successful as the two chains did not cater to the same market segments. Wasson's catered to the middle class, while Goldblatt's was a discount department store. During Goldblatt's ownership a distinct decline in merchandise quality occurred. Moreover, Goldblatt's did not open any new outlets after the acquisition, or relocate any stores into the new regional malls that ringed the city. The last Wasson's store was closed in 1980.

After suffering large losses, Goldblatt's sold the downtown store and the other property around Monument Circle to Melvin Simon and Associates for $2.25 million in December 1979,[12] and started to close the Indianapolis metropolitan stores.

In September 1980, Goldblatt's announced that they planned to close the Anderson and Bloomington stores in January 1981 along with other Goldblatt stores as a cost saving measure after experiencing staggering corporate losses for the third straight year.[13]

The Bloomington store at College Mall closed in January of the following year.[14] The store had opened in 1965 as one of the original anchors of the mall.

On February 27, 1981, Goldbatt's announced that the last Wasson's store would close in Kokomo on the next day.[15] The Kokomo store had been one of the first stores in the Kokomo Mall when that mall had opened in 1963, and was the first store that H. P. Wasson had opened outside of Marion County.

Building[edit]

H. P. Wasson Building at 2 West Washington St.

The nine story Art Moderne flagship store located at 2 West Washington Street was converted into a retail/office complex in the early 1980s. The main store was designed by the noted Indianapolis architectural firm of Rubush and Hunter and constructed in 1937. A distinguishing feature of the Washington Street Store was the elimination of windows on the upper floors. With the advent of fluorescent lighting, windows were no longer required. The Washington Street location was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The former Wasson's annex located on Monument Circle burnt down in 1969 and was subsequently replaced by a park. Recently a new corporate headquarters for Emmis Communications was built on the site.

Wasson's Credit Union, which opened in October 1923, was the first credit union in Indiana and in the Midwest.[citation needed]

Competitors were L. S. Ayres, L. Strauss & Co. and William H. Block.

Locations[edit]

Previous locations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "Weekly List Of Actions Taken On Properties: 12/22/97 Through 12/26/97". National Register of Historic Places, January 02, 1998
  3. ^ Marion County History. Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (1994), page 652, ISBN 9780253112491
  5. ^ "New Wasson Store". Tipton Tribune, February 02, 1927, page 4.
  6. ^ "Wasson Store Hit By Fire". Logansport Pharos Tribune and Press, June 02, 1969, page 2.
  7. ^ a b "Goldblatt's Buys 8 Stores of H. P. Wasson in Indiana". Chicago Tribune, October 31, 1967, page C7. Link via ProQuest.
  8. ^ "H. P. Wasson & Company Has New President". Kokomo Tribune, September 08, 1967, page 8.
  9. ^ "H. P. Wasson & Company Stores Are Sold to Goldblatt Chain". Kokomo Tribune, October 30, 1967, page 12.
  10. ^ "Wasson Store Sold To Goldblatt Firm". Anderson Herald Bulletin, October 30, 1967, page 1.
  11. ^ "Goldblatt of Chicago buys H. P. Wasson". Kokomo Morning Times, October 31, 1967, page 3.
  12. ^ "Goldblatt's sells Indianapolis store". Chicago Tribune, December 30, 1979, page W4. Link via ProQuest.
  13. ^ "Goldblatt's putting its house in order". Chicago Tribune, September 7, 1980, page N1. Link via ProQuest.
  14. ^ "Mall addition has 22 new stores". Bloomington Herald-Times, April 23, 1981.
  15. ^ "Chain store closes Kokomo outlet". Kokomo Tribune, February 27, 1981, page 7.
  16. ^ "Meadows/Fall Creek Neighborhood Plan" Indianapolis-Marion County, June 1987.
  17. ^ "Eagledale Neighborhood Plan". Indianapolis-Marion County, April 18, 2001.

Further reading[edit]

  • Indianapolis: Hoosier's Circle City by George W. Geib, copyright 1981. pages 86,87. ISBN 9780738524627
  • Service And Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class By Jan Whitaker, page 104, ISBN 9781429909914
  • The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis By David J. Bodenhamer, Robert Graham Barrows, David Gordon Vanderstel, page 652, ISBN 9780253112491

External links[edit]