John Shillito Company

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John Shillito & Co. (commonly known as Shillito's) was Cincinnati's first department store. It was founded by John Shillito (1809-1879) and William McLaughlin in 1830 as "McLaughlin & Shillito", but their partnership soon broke up. In 1857, Shillito, then operating on his own, built a store on Cincinnati's Fourth Street, designed by James W. McLaughlin, the son of his former partner. In 1878, Shillito's moved to a new landmark building on Race and Seventh streets, also designed by James McLaughlin. The fashionable new store had eight floors, five elevators, over 800,000 sf of space, and employed over 1000 people.[1]

After the 1925 death of John's son and successor, Stewart Shillito, Shillito's was sold to the F&R Lazarus Co. in 1928, which became a founding partner in Federated Department Stores a year later.

In several ways, Shillito’s became the first department store to embrace the African-American community. In 1946 it was the nation’s first department store to give credit to African-Americans, as well as employ them as salespeople and executives. The store’s restaurant was the first in downtown Cincinnati to serve African-American customers.[2]

Branch stores were built at new outlying suburban malls: Tri-County Mall (1960), Western Woods (1963), Beechmont Mall (1969), Oxmoor Mall (Louisville, Kentucky, 1971), Fayette Mall (Lexington, Kentucky, 1971), Florence Mall (Florence, Kentucky, 1977) and Jefferson Mall (Louisville, 1979).[3]

The Shillito name was merged with corporate sibling Rike's to form Shillito-Rike's in 1982; the name was dropped altogether in 1986 in favor of Lazarus.[4] On March 6, 2005, the Lazarus name was dropped and the former Shillito's stores now operate under the Macy's brand name.

The landmark Shillito's department store building has been converted into the Lofts at Shillito Place luxury apartments.[5] It is a contributing property to the Race Street Historic District. When the building was renovated in 1998, the developer was surprised to uncover the atrium space with the original octagonal skylight. They restored it with energy-efficient materials. Today there are 18 loft-style apartments on six floors and office space on the main floor.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stradling, David (Oct 1, 2003). Cincinnati: From River City to Highway Metropolis. Arcadia Publishing. p. 72. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
  2. ^ accessdate=22 December 2016 |
  3. ^ The Department Store Museum
  4. ^ Findsen, Owen (1997-10-12). "Lazarus store has long, rich heritage". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2006-07-12.
  5. ^ "Property owner website". Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  6. ^ Kraft, Joy (Aug 1, 2013). "Shillito's was a retail palace with panache". Cincinnati Enquirer. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.