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I. Magnin

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I Magnin
Company typePrivate
Founded1876; 148 years ago (1876)
FoundersMary Ann Magnin
Isaac Magnin
Defunct1994 (1994)
FateAcquired by Macy's
San Francisco, California
Key people
Mary Ann Magnin
Isaac Magnin
ProductsClothing, footwear, jewelry, beauty products
OwnerFederated Department Stores (1964–1987,1994)
R. H. Macy & Co. (1988–1993)

I. Magnin & Company was a San Francisco, California-based high fashion and specialty goods luxury department store. Over the course of its existence, it expanded across the West into Southern California and the adjoining states of Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. In the 1970s, under Federated Department Stores ownership, the chain entered the Chicago, and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas. Mary Ann Magnin founded the company in 1876 and named the chain after her husband Isaac.



Location of the San Francisco store at 50 Grant Avenue from 1912 to 1948
The 1948 closure of the San Francisco store on Union Square at 135 Stockton St.
Former I. Magnin store in Oakland, California

In the early 1870s, Dutch-born Mary Ann Magnin and her husband Isaac Magnin left England and settled in San Francisco. Mary Ann opened a shop in 1876 selling lotions and high-end clothing for infants. Later, she expanded into bridal wear. As her business grew, her exclusive clientele relied on her for the newest fashions from Paris. I. Magnin imported clothing by major designers including Jeanne Lanvin, Hattie Carnegie, and Christian Dior.[1]

At the turn of the century, Mary Ann's four sons entered the business. While John Magnin, Grover Magnin, and Sam Magnin became associated with the I. Magnin store, the fourth son, Joseph Magnin, became known for his own store, Joseph Magnin Co..

The 1906 earthquake and fire leveled the San Francisco store with the remainder of the downtown area. The store reopened in new quarters at 50 Grant Avenue at Geary Boulevard in 1912. During the 1910s, the chain opened shops in six high-end hotels in California. The Los Angeles Wilshire Boulevard branch (opened in 1939) and the Union Square store (opened in 1948) were among the most elegant in the United States. When designer Christian Dior visited, he toured the Union Square store, and called it the "White Marble Palace".[2]

In Los Angeles[edit]

Daughter Flora married Myer Siegel, who launched a namesake department store in Los Angeles, which would later become a chain. In Los Angeles in 1897 and 1898, I. Magnin & Co. advertised its wares for retail sale at 237 South Spring Street, noting that Mr. Myer Siegel was the manager.[3] The I. Magnin store that Siegel managed moved to 251 S. Broadway on January 2, 1899;[4] on June 19, 1904, I. Magnin announced that the Los Angeles store would henceforth be known as "Myer Siegel".[5] I. Magnin would return with its own Los Angeles-area retail store later when it opened boutiques in the Maryland Hotel in Pasadena and the Ambassador Hotel in Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, a branch at 6340 Hollywood Boulevard,[6][7] and in 1939 a landmark store at 3240 Wilshire Boulevard near Bullocks Wilshire, designed by Myron Hunt, architect of the Ambassador Hotel.[8]

Sale to Bullock's[edit]

In 1944, the chain was bought by the Los Angeles-based Bullock's department store chain. In the late 1950s the combined chain expanded into the Southern California suburbs by opening the Fashion Square concept in Santa Ana in 1958, the San Fernando Valley (Sherman Oaks) in 1962 and Del Amo (Torrance) in 1965.

After a major proxy battle in 1964, Bullocks-I. Magnin was merged into Federated Department Stores. Bullock's, I. Magnin, and eventually Bullocks Wilshire were run as separate divisions of Federated. I. Magnin expanded in the Chicago and Washington, D.C. areas in the 1970s.

Sale to Macy's[edit]

R.H. Macy & Company had long yearned in the 1980s to enter the Southern California market. Along with trying to build their own stores, they attempted to purchase Federated, eventually losing a takeover war to the Campeau Corporation in 1988. As part of the settlement with Campeau, Macy's purchased Bullock's, Bullock's Wilshire and I. Magnin, subsequently beginning a reorganization of its divisions and consolidating the I. Magnin and Bullock's Wilshire stores into a semi-autonomous division under Macy's California. The seven Bullock's Wilshire stores were renamed I. Magnin in 1989.

In 1991 Macy's announced plans to re-align its divisional structure and created a new Macy's West/Bullock's division by February 1992. While in the process of doing so, it declared bankruptcy on January 27, 1992. During the next two years, the I. Magnin group shuttered 11 stores of an already-reduced franchise with the historic original Bullock's Wilshire flagship on Wilshire Boulevard closed in early 1993 after years of losses aggravated by the effects of the 1992 Rodney King riots. The Oakland, California, store was closed in 1995.


In 1994 Federated Department Stores reached an agreement with R.H. Macy's creditors to buy the company out of bankruptcy, completing the acquisition on December 19 and making Macy's West/Bullock's a division of Federated. Even before the acquisition closed, it pulled the plug on the remainder of the I. Magnin chain, eventually selling four stores (Carmel, Beverly Hills, San Diego, and Phoenix) to Saks Fifth Avenue and ultimately converting six former I. Magnin locations in Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, Woodland Hills, Palm Desert, Newport Beach, and Palos Verdes to specialty Macy's or Bullock's locations, replicating the success of the 1991 conversion of I. Magnin at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, into a separate Bullock's Men's location. The upper floors of the former I. Magnin store on Union Square were later converted to an expansion of Macy's Union Square, Macy's West's own adjoining flagship.

Store locations[edit]

City Location Opened Closed Became Notes
San Francisco single-store locations and flagship stores
San Francisco 144 Third Street operating in 1885
848 Market opposite Fourth 1887?[9] Oct 1895 1887 ad refers to "Magnin's Pacific Underwear House"[9]
840 Market opposite Fourth Oct 1894[10] 1901
Baldwin Block, 918-920-922 Market Mar 11, 1901[11] Apr 17, 1906 "Almost 10,000" sq. ft. of floor space.[11] Had a 2nd entrance on Ellis Street. Damaged in 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
Van Ness at Bush 1906 Temporary store after 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
Post at Stockton The second floor was a "French room" for "costumes and wraps" with Circassian walnut finishes and hard-carved lattice glass doors. An annex of several thousand square feet for women's millinery (hats) was added on Post Street in 1911. The interior had private hat rooms and was Louis XVI style, with "goblin blue carpets" and "old rose colored" rugs, and cut-glass chandeliers. The second floor had all-mahogany fixtures, with heavy French plate mirrors and was "richly carpeted in green". The mezzanine held a millinery workroom.[12]
50 Geary Street 1912 1948
135 Stockton Street 1948 1994 Macy's Union Square (1995-2018)
Early boutiques in hotels
Santa Barbara Potter Hotel Jan 6, 1912[13] Hotel destroyed by fire 1921[14]
Pasadena Hotel Maryland 1913[15][16]
Monterey Hotel Del Monte[15][16] 1914[15][16]
Coronado Hotel Del Coronado[16] 1914[16] 1950s? before 1954[17]
Wilshire Center Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Boulevard[15][16] Jan 18, 1921[18]
Downtown Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel[15] 1927[15][16]
Santa Barbara Biltmore at Montecito[15] 1927[15]
Palm Springs El Mirador Hotel 1932[19] 1942 El Mirador became a military hospital
Pasadena Huntington Hotel was operating in 1947[20]
Arrowhead Springs Arrowhead Springs Hotel[17] 1953[17]
Sacramento Senator Hotel[17] 1953[17]
Other Northern California stores
Carmel Carmel Plaza[21] 1960 1994 10,000 sq ft (930 m2)
Cupertino Vallco Fashion Park 1976 1992 Express; later Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant 56,000 sq. ft.[22]
Fresno 1630-1632 Van Ness Avenue 1955[23] 17,000 sq. ft.[23]
Oakland 1994
Palo Alto Stanford Shopping Center 1994
Sacramento Downtown Plaza 1984 1992 America Live! (shuttered in 1996) Building originally opened as a Liberty House in 1981.
Santa Clara Valley Fair Mall
San Mateo Converted to clearance store
Walnut Creek 1994
Southern California stores opened as I. Magnin
Downtown Los Angeles 237 South Spring Street 1897[3] 1898 or -9
237 South Broadway Jan 2, 1899[4] Jun 1904[5] Myer Siegel
Hollywood 6340 Hollywood Boulevard Apr 1923[24]
Pasadena (1st full store) 550 East Colorado Boulevard 1933 Aug 1949[20]
Beverly Hills (1st store) 9626 Wilshire at Bedford[25] 1928[7] 1947[7]
Wilshire Center (full store) 3240 Wilshire Boulevard[8] Feb 10, 1939[26][8] Near Bullocks Wilshire. Designed by Myron Hunt, architect of the Ambassador Hotel[8]
Beverly Hills (2nd store) 9634 Wilshire Boulevard 1947[27] Jan 1995[25] Saks Fifth Avenue Men's Store[28] 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2)[28]
Santa Barbara (full store) 1415 State Street 1947[27] Timothy L. Pflueger, architect. Now the United States Bankruptcy Court.[29]
Pasadena (2nd full store) 475 S. Lake Avenue[20] Aug 1949[20]
San Diego - La Jolla 7661 Girard Avenue 1954[17] 1993[30] Stores and offices 6,000 sq ft (560 m2) at opening
San DiegoFashion Valley Fashion Valley Sep 26, 1992[31] 1993 or -4[32] Forever 21 Took over Buffums space. Employees from the to-be-closed La Jolla branch were transferred here.[33]
Santa Ana Santa Ana Fashion Square 1958
Sherman Oaks Sherman Oaks Fashion Square 1962
Torrance Del Amo Fashion Square 1965
Southern California stores opened as Bullocks Wilshire
Wilshire Center 3050 Wilshire Boulevard Sep 24, 1929 Jan 1995 Southwestern Law School An architectural and retail landmark. See Bullocks Wilshire
Palm Springs 151 Palm Canyon Drive Oct 18, 1947 (as Bullock's) 1992[34]
Palm Desert Palm Desert Town Center 1987 Took over the space of Bonwit Teller
Woodland Hills Woodland Hills Promenade Aug 20, 1973
Newport Beach Fashion Island Aug 1, 1977 Razed, now site of Nordstrom
La Jolla La Jolla Village Square Saks Fifth Avenue[28]
Chicago area
Chicago 830 North Michigan Avenue, Magnificent Mile Oct 22, 1971[35][36] February 1991[37] Building was originally Bonwit Teller; as of July 2020 multi-tenant retail space incl. Uniqlo[citation needed]
Northbrook Northbrook Court 1991 (est.)[37]
Oak Brook Oakbrook Center 1991 (est.)[37]
Other states
Phoenix Biltmore Fashion Park Dec 1994 Saks Fifth Avenue[28]
North Bethesda, Md.
(Washington, D.C. area)
White Flint Mall Aug 11, 1978[38] Jun 1992 Borders Books & Music 81,000 square feet (7,500 m2), 150 employees, $10 million to build. Was the 24th I. Magnin store at the time.[38]
Portland, Oregon 930 SW Sixth (Sixth and Salmon) 1962 1988
Seattle 601 Pine Street (after 1953) 1926 1993

See also[edit]


  • Frick, Devin Thomas (2000). I.Magnin & Co. A California Legacy. Park Place Press, Orange County, CA. ISBN 0-9663493-1-8.
  • Hendrickson, Robert (1979). The Grand Emporiums: The Illustrated History of American's Great Department Stores. Stein and Day, New York, NY. ISBN 0-8128-2516-0.
  • Mahoney, Tom; Sloane, Leonard (1966). The Great Merchants: America's Foremost Retail Institutions and the People Who Made Them Great. Harper & Row, New York, NY. ISBN 0-06-012739-2.
  • Mullane, James Thomas (2007). A Store to Remember. Falcon Books, San Ramon, CA. ISBN 978-0-9788513-0-9.
  1. ^ House, Nancy (2000). "I. Magnin". Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  2. ^ Cox, Heather (28 May 2014). "I. Magnin and Company: A History". Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b I. Magnin advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, 16 January 1898, p. 12
  4. ^ a b "We move Monday to 251 South Broadway", I. Magnin advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, 31 Dec 1898, p.4
  5. ^ a b Advertisement by I. Magnin, 19 June 1904, Los Angeles Times, p. 12
  6. ^ I. Magnin advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, 1 May 1935, p.2
  7. ^ a b c "I. Magnin department store, 6340 Hollywood BLVD at Ivar, 1928 |". 4 October 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d "Wilshire Galleria", Los Angeles Conservancy
  9. ^ a b "Advertisement for Magnin's Pacific Underwear House, 848 Market St". San Francisco Examiner. October 18, 1887. p. 3.
  10. ^ "Advertisement for I. Magnin". San Francisco Examiner. October 18, 1894. p. 7.
  11. ^ a b "Plan of I. Magnin & Co's New Store". San Francisco Examiner. March 3, 1901.
  12. ^ "Big Addition to Be Opened: Several Thousand Floor Feet Added for Women's Millinery". San Francisco Call. March 5, 1911. p. 29.
  13. ^ "Advertisement for I. Magnin". Santa Barbara Independent. January 6, 1912.
  14. ^ "Potter Hotel", Pacific Coast Architecture Database
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Longstreth, Richard (1010). The American Department Store Transformed 1920–1960. Yale. p. 111. ISBN 9780300149388.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Finding Aid to the I. Magnin & Co. Records 1893-1998 (bulk 1930-1994) SFH 2", Online Archive of California
  17. ^ a b c d e f "New Magnin Store Planned for La Jolla". Los Angeles Times. February 3, 1954. p. 4.
  18. ^ "I. Magnin & Co. (ad): ...January eighteenth, on the occasion of the formal opening of the Ambassador..." Los Angeles Evening Express. 17 January 1921. p. 15.
  19. ^ "I. Magnin & Co. to Open Twelfth Branch". San Francisco Examiner. November 8, 1933. p. 25.
  20. ^ a b c d "Ad for I Magnin Moving Sale, Pasadena". Los Angeles Times. July 25, 1949. p. 5.
  21. ^ Longstreth, Richard (December 1, 2009). Department Store Branches, 1910–1960 (DOC).
  22. ^ "I. Magnin - Vallco", Flickr
  23. ^ a b "I. Magnin", Department Store Museum
  24. ^ "Advertisement for I. Magnin Hollywood". Los Angeles Daily Express. April 23, 1923.
  25. ^ a b "Beverly Hills then and Now". 26 March 2012.
  26. ^ Weaver, Sylva (February 11, 1939). "Leaders visit latest addition to city's mercantile establishments: Store holds gay premiere: Magnin's new style center on Wilshire viewed by leaders". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ a b "Bullock's-I. Magnin Company Sales Hit $107,042,039". San Francisco Examiner. March 26, 1947. p. 26.
  28. ^ a b c d "Saks to Expand on I. Magnin Site". Los Angeles Times. December 26, 1994.
  29. ^ "Urban Hikers Take a Stroll Through Micheltorena Bike-Lane Controversy", Noozhawk, 5 April 2016. See also this blog post: "I. Magnin & Co.", The Department Store Museum, accessed 26 September 2021.
  30. ^ "Tough times in La Jolla: I. Magnin closing its doors after 39 years", Bloom, Barry M. San Diego Union - Tribune, March 2, 1993, p. C-2
  31. ^ "I. Magnin San Diego (Fashion Valley) Grand Opening". September 26, 1992 – via Internet Archive.
  32. ^ Wendy Fry (May 4, 2010). "Iconic Fashion Valley Store Being Shuttered".
  33. ^ "I. Magnin to Fill Buffum's Vacancy in Fashion Valley". Los Angeles Times. July 17, 1991. Retrieved October 14, 2023.
  34. ^ Murphy, Gary (March 6, 1992). "Merchants bemoan loss in Palm Springs of I. Magnin Store". Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA).
  35. ^ "I. Magnin Adds New Gem to Michigan Av". Chicago Tribune. 24 October 1971. p. 125. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  36. ^ "Gala Opening for I. Magnin in Chicago". Chicago Tribune. 23 October 1971. p. 17. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  37. ^ a b c "It's Not I. Magnin's Kind of Town". Los Angeles Times. Chicago. August 21, 1990. p. 181.
  38. ^ a b "Magnin Firm to Open Store in Maryland". Times-Advocate (Escondido, CA). March 20, 1978.