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 and William McLaughlin in 1832 as "McLaughlin & Shillito", but their partnership soon broke up. In 1857, Shillito, now operating on his own, built a store on Fourth Street, designed by James W. McLaughlin. 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 five elevators.[1]

By the early Depression, business was not as good as had been, and in 1930 Shillito's was bought by the F&R Lazarus Co., which became a founding partner in Federated Department Stores a year later. 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.[2] On March 6, 2005, the Lazarus name was dropped and the former Shillito's stores now operate under the Macy's brand name.

While there was not legal segregation in Cincinnati, Shillito's prohibited African Americans from shopping in the store until during the Civil Rights Movement and challenges by activists.[3]

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).[4]

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 hexagonal 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. ^ Findsen, Owen (1997-10-12). "Lazarus store has long, rich heritage". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2006-07-12. 
  3. ^ Singer, Allen J. (2005). Stepping Out in Cincinnati: Queen City Entertainment 1900-1960. Arcadia Publishing. p. 8. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  4. ^ The Department Store Museum
  5. ^ "Property owner website". Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  6. ^ Kraft, Joy (Aug 1, 2013). "Shillito's was a retail palace with panache". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved June 11, 2014.