Roddy Burdine

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Roddy Bell Burdine [1] (14 Oct 1886 - 15 Feb 1936) was an American businessman who owned the Burdines department store chain from 1911–1936. A leading citizen of Miami, Florida in the early 20th century, Burdine was the son of William Burdine, who founded Burdines as a dry goods store in 1898.

After his father's death, Burdine became the chairman of the department store, leading its expansion to become one of the biggest department stores in the United States. He built Miami's first skyscraper and created the first parking garage connected to a retail business.[2]


Early life[edit]

Burdine was born in Verona, Mississippi, the third oldest of seven children.[3] He was the son of a Confederate veteran and merchant and Mary Freeman.[4] At a young age, the Burdine family moved to Bartow, Florida where his father became a successful orange grower.[3] When he was 10, William Burdine moved his family to Miami after a great freeze destroyed the family's crop.[5]

Retail career[edit]

In 1898, Miami had been incorporated as a city two years earlier. The Spanish American War was raging, and many soldiers were training in the area. Burdine founded a dry goods store to cater the needs of these soldiers. Roddy worked at the store since he was a teenager, first as a clerk, and after graduating from Miami High School becoming a partner with his brother, R. Freeman, a successful Miami attorney.[3]

Upon his father’s death in 1911, Roddy became the owner of the company. Soon afterwards, Roddy led the expansion of Burdines. In 1912, Roddy built a new store on Flagler Street, the main commercial street in Miami. Five stories high, the Burdine Building became Miami's first "skyscraper", and the first building to have modern electrical installation.[3] Burdine traveled north to study department stores such as Wanamaker's and Marshall Field's to make his department store the most modern in the country.

By 1924, Burdines had become the leading department store in Florida, with customers coming from across the state.[3] It had its own post office, restaurant, and car dealership.[3] A new parking garage opened in 1923, becoming the first garage linked to a retail establishment. A new six-story building with 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) opened next to its original location in 1925.[2] His second store opened in Miami Beach also in 1925.

Civic activity[edit]

Burdine was the head of the Miami's Rotary Club, and the head of the business ethics committee.[6] After the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, Burdine was named the head of the rebuilding committee.[7]

In 1933, Roddy Burdine Municipal Stadium opened in what would, many decades later, become the "Little Havana" section of Miami. In 1959, it was renamed as the Orange Bowl.

Marriage and Family[edit]

He married Zada Dutton, of Georgia,[8] on September 15, 1915 at her parents home.[1] They had two daughters, Zada (1917) and Patricia (1920),[8][9] and divorced in 1932.[10] Roddy remarried on September 14, 1933 to Lillian Jenette Chatham, a native of Windom, Minnesota, in New York City.[11] They remained married until his death in 1936[4] and had one son, Roddey, who was born about two months prior to Roddy's death.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Invitations Issued To Dutton-Burdine Wedding Will Be Pretty Affair". Miami Daily Metropolis (Miami, Florida). August 31, 1915. p. 5. 
  2. ^ a b "Roddy Burdine Anicipating Great Future". The Miami News. January 11, 1925. p. 100. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Surprising Expansion of Every Department has been Inevitable". The Miami News. January 11, 1925. p. 68. 
  4. ^ a b "Roddy Bell Burdine, Florida, Deaths, 1877-1939". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Story of A Man Whose Vision Proved Clear.". The Miami News. January 11, 1925. p. 99. 
  6. ^ "Rotary Hears Burdine Speak.". The Miami News. May 8, 1924. p. 2. 
  7. ^ "25,000 Workers Mobilizing for Rebuilding Task". The Miami News. September 23, 1926. p. 1. 
  8. ^ a b "Roddy B Burdine, United States Census, 1930". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Roddy B Burdine, United States Census, 1920". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Zada Dutton B Burdine, Florida, Divorce Index, 1927-2001". Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Roddy Burdine Marries Lillian Chatham in N.Y.". Miami Daily News (Miami, Florida). September 14, 1933. p. 1. 
  12. ^ "Roddey Wants To Be A Merchant Prince, Too". The Miami News (Miami, Florida). July 31, 1959. p. 8A.