Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Christmas card to all of you

  Here are a few Photo's that were taken in December of 1960.
I got these images when I was working in the Denholm building earlier this year by a very kind woman named Becky.  Her father in law had taken them, and they were originally in slide format.  These are the only color images that I have of the tree of lights.  It was so  reminds me of the exterior of Macy's New York with their light tree on the facade.  I hope you enjoy my card to all of you!  Thank you for all of your kind words and memories over the past year.  It is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Denholms Holiday 2010

I spent a few days at the Denholm Building this week installing some seasonal trim into the retrospective windows.  We went with a "winter" them as it can stay up a bit longer.  It was great to be able to work in that space again, and give it a mini face-lift. When I stood back and looked at the building, I was so pleased that it was starting to have life again breathed into the exterior, and I could only imagine what it was like during it's heyday with the large lighted tree and festive window displays.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Holidays are here!

Here is a toy window from 1953 showcasing the various dolls available in the Toy department (which at that time was in the lower level).  The facade of the building and iconic Christmas tree make up the propping for this holiday display.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving.

Here is my latest Ebay win.  An original Housewares mailer from Denholms.  My grandmother had the set of the green pots and pans which the salesgirls gave her.I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners made with these...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The higher the hair...

Summer was Great, But did your hair take a toll?  A great window showcasing the former Beauty Salon that used to be on the sixth floor.  I love this mannequin, and her wig.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Denholms in The Department Store Museum!

Here is a link to a wonderful blog that was started to highlight the various department stores that existed in the United States.  It's a great way to "tour the stores" as they were, and view the various imagery consisting of old shopping bags and store photo's.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

100th anniversary bag

Here is a picture of a Denholms bag that was sent to me by LB Worm.  It shows the various locations and facades of the building.  I cannot thank you enough, I love it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Denholms Auburn

Here is an archival photo of Denholms only branch store in Auburn Ma.  The store opened in the spring of 1973 in the space that now houses Macy's Home collection.  The total square feet was 175,000. First floor was primarily Men's and Women's sportswear,Children's, millinery, jewelry and cosmetics. Second floor was comprised of  Home and electronics .  This store stayed open just a few months after the downtown Worcester store closed in 1973.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Richard Healy Building

I dont have many photographs showing the left side of the building, but here is one again showing the Richard Healy building abuting Denholms. Richard Healy was a high end store( founded as a furrier) which carried expensive womens wear and accessories as well as it's fur selection.. To the left of that was Wallgreens pharmacy.  Denholms purchased the heally building in 1970 and had plans on expanding into that space.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Denholms Directory

When the Denholm building was being renovated in 1985 (into offices). I was able to go in and take whatever memorabilia I wanted.  There was not too much there, as the building had been stripped in preparation for the massive remodel that was taking place.  I was able to get the old directory from the third floor bank of elevators.  Below is how the store was layed out and the various departments within it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Post Office unveiling at the Denholm Building

On Tuesday July6th there was an official "Unveiling" of the new window display at the Denholm building.  I cannot even teel you how great it was.  My mother attended as well as Pat and Heidi Wolf.  The two are Mr Harry Wolfs ( the former president of Denholms) daughters.  Even though it was 100 degrees that day, the heat didn't even matter...I was with a wonderful group of people.  Each of us here were awarded a framed collection of stamps which are being featured in the window, as well as a retro photo of Denholms.

Shown from left to right are , Troy Siebels of the Hanover Theater, Assistant City Manager Julie Jacobson, Worcester Postmaster Dan O'Neil, Creative Designer Christopher Sawyer, Congressman Jim McGovern, Worcester Community Action Council Executive Director Jill Dagilis, and Greater Boston District Grow Global  and Team Member Dawn Doucet 
Photos by Paul Bresnahan  Worcester MA

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Denholm building Post Office window

The empty window before

I spent the early part of this week working at the Denholm building.  As an ongoing effort to bring back the dignity to this building. 6 of the 10 window spaces have been updated (4 more to go).  This trip was to install a window in the vacant space housed by the US Post Office.  Working with Jill Dagilis (amazing woman) and the US Post office (thanks Joanne).  We collaborated on a design I did, and then got the materials and lighting to re vamp the empty window space.  The display consists of 8 stamp designs chosen by the Post Office and an envelope sculpture (500 total), all amidst a blue sky backdrop.  An official "unveiling" will be taking place on Tuesday of this week.

The present space during the 1950's

The completed window

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Downtown Main Street

Here is a view of what Downtown Worcester used to look like during the mid 60's.   You see Denholms, and Kresge's, as well as the various that buildings that stood before the present day Glass high rise.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Denholms 1958 spring windows

  Presently, this is my personal screen saver at home.  I love the mannequin on the left with her clam shell hat, low chignon, and animated pose.  Pure 1950's fashion!  I also love the animal on the left announcing fur storage for the summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shopping bag graphic

Here is a graphic from a shopping bag that was used for the woman's third floor. Primarily for the better dress department and Salisbury shop.  Does anyone remember this bag?  I have 2 of them in my possession.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Here is a picture of a very Dear friend.  Her name is Linda, and she was a model for Denholms.   We called her the "face" of Denholms as she used to partake in many of the runway shows, and store activities.  Her and my grandmother were very close up untill my grandmothers passing. 

I was very lucky to have lunch with her over the holiday season, and she still looks as beautiful as ever.  This picture was taken on the third floor during a fashion show that Denholms routinely did.  In the background you can see the evening shop and bridal salon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring is almost here

I know we are all waiting in anticipation for spring, and for these rains to stop.  Here is a photo from the 1962 spring collection at Denholms.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thank You

How can I ever say thank you to all of the wonderful people who have written in about my article in the Telegram and the Bostonian.  I cannot tell you how much your kind words have meant to me.  This is a labor of love for me, and I do it in memory of my grandmother and everyone else who worked and shopped at Denholms.  I hope that I can stir up some of your own memories with this blog, and I would love for you to share yours with me. 

I also want to thank everyone who has voted on my site.  I did purchase the "Denholms" name and would love to re-open the store.  I will keep you all posted with the progress of that venture.

Much love to you all!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another article on the Bostonist!

When 40-year-old Jamaica Plain resident Christopher Sawyer was a young boy growing up just outside Worcester, he spent many weekends at the Denholm & McKay Co. Department store. Nicknamed "The Boston Store" (but not to be confused with Boston Store), Denholms was the largest New England department store outside of Boston until it closed in 1975. Sawyer often shadowed his late grandmother, Josephine Carbone, who started working at the store in 1945 as a stock girl and moved her way up to Divisional Merchandise Manager at a time when few women were part of the executive team.

Sawyer, who is now the creative director at the Boston Ralph Lauren store, said his grandmother's influence on him has been immeasurable. So when he visited the remains of the Denholm & McKay store almost two years ago, he was disheartened to see the sad, eroding facade of the building and other offices in the area. Fondly remembering the beautiful Denholm & McKay of his youth, Sawyer took it upon himself to clean up the building's exterior. Since April of 2009, he has worked to restore the building's windows to their 1951 appearance. He has kept a blog about his experience, providing personal thoughts and numerous pictures as the project progresses.

"My goal was two-part: one, to pay tribute to the building and company that stood there, and the second part was to help beautify buildings in the Worcester area that were in really bad shape," he says. Restoring the building's facade included "draping out all of the back walls with sheers, updating the lighting system, and re-introducing the original logo back on the glass show windows," Sawyer explains. He also installed archival images of the store in the windows. All of these improvements—illustrated in the image above—help keep the story of the Denholm's store alive, he says.

"The windows are the eyes and ears of what the building is projecting, whether it be a story or whether it be something for the community," Sawyer says.

The building, constructed in 1871, is now home to several offices of non-profit groups, and Sawyer has started working with some of them to help clean up more windows in the building. He says several Worcester and Boston area resident who have connections in the area have sent him messages of encouragement, as well as their own stories of what Denholms meant to them. Sawyer's efforts were recently profiled in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and he is currently polling people on his blog regarding their hopes for a Denholm & McKay reopening.

"People really don't shop in department stores anymore but back then, that was the main hub where people would meet. They would spend the day and get dressed up. It was a social outing to go to a department store," Sawyer says. "I'm hoping that by showcasing the building, people will have a remembrance of a time gone by. I think it's a way of reminiscing of times gone by when life was a little bit simpler."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Denholms Article in Worcester Telegram

Touch of elegance returns
Princeton native spurs Denholms face-lift

On the cover, Christopher Sawyer stands before one of the windows he has redesigned. Above are recent before and after photos of the windows. (Cover photo by T&G photographer Dan Gould.)
» Enlarge photo

Once upon a time every city had its big downtown department store. In Worcester, it was Denholms.

When the six-story Denholm & McKay Co. closed for good in 1973 it marked the end of a more genteel era in retailing. The store’s elegant boutique-style layout gave the expansive space an intimate feeling. Attentive service meant no one had to hunt through long racks on their own or guess whether the shoe fit properly. Lavish decorations heralded each change of season, while store windows displayed the latest fashion finery.

The world has changed since then and so has the Denholms building at 474 Main St. The former home of a single large retailer, the inside has shifted to a warren of smaller businesses, offices and condos. Hints of the building’s heyday remained long after, however, in things like the elaborate Baroque detailing of the escalators and the modern fa├žade that won awards when it was added in 1951. Now, the building’s windows also will recall the store’s glory days.

Christopher Sawyer of Jamaica Plain, independently and at his own expense, has undertaken the restoration of 10 display windows at the Denholms building. Many windows had become an unattractive hodgepodge of signs. Others were vacant, a hollow reflection of downtown’s decline.

The windows won’t display the latest fashions like they once did. Rather, some will showcase photos and artifacts detailing the history of the grand old department store, complete with the “Denholms” painted across the glass in a jaunty black script, a store signature that once adorned shopping bags, gift boxes and newspaper ads. Other window displays will echo the activities of the building’s current occupants, including the Worcester Community Action Council and J&N Fournier Antiques. Sawyer has completed four windows and plans to finish the remaining ones within a year.

Sawyer, who grew up in Princeton, is creative director at Ralph Lauren in Boston. His experience in retailing and window design partially explain his dedication to the project. His connection to the store goes deeper than that, however. His grandmother was the late Josephine Carbone, who started her career with Denholms in 1947 as a stock girl. Over the years she was promoted several times, ultimately reaching the executive position of divisional merchandise manager.

It was she who introduced her little grandson to Denholms, taking him to work occasionally on weekends. But it was when Sawyer was 13, more than a decade after the store had closed and the building had been sold to a new owner, that his passion for the venerable place came alive. One afternoon, while the new owner was gutting the building and subdividing the interior into smaller offices, “My grandmother and I were walking by on our way to get some lunch and I said ‘Grandma let’s go in,’ ” Sawyer said. “So she told the construction guys that she used to work there for 25 years, could we go in and walk around.”

The workmen ushered them in, and Sawyer immediately fell in love with the elegant interior, much of which could still be seen, although it was coated with dust from the ongoing construction efforts. “I’ve always been interested in retail but that was when retail was in its heyday,” he said. “There were big, grand couture rooms and there was the wedding gown department and where the millinery used to be and the escalators with all the Baroque detailing. Seeing all that is what triggered me to start my whole career.”

He was instantly enthralled with the store and the more graceful era it represented. He began collecting Denholms memorabilia shortly after that first visit and has amassed an extensive collection since. “I went back six months later and asked if I could do another tour on my own, and they said, ‘Take whatever you want,’ ” he said. “I got old signs and the directory and things like that. They were probably thinking ‘What is he doing?’ but I fell in love.” Those first forays eventually led to an award-graced career spanning more than 20 years in the luxury retail trade. He worked for Jordan Marsh Co. and Neiman Marcus before joining Ralph Lauren.

Last May, when he came back to the city to research Denholms at the Worcester Historical Museum, he headed downtown and took a stroll by the building. “I just got so sad,” he said. “I thought ‘This is not what this building was. This building used to be so grand.’ ” So, since he does windows for a living, he called the building management and offered his services. “I said ‘I do this. I’m a professional. I’d love to offer my services and do a retrospective and show people how grand that building was in downtown,’ and they were thrilled.”

“I wanted to give the building and the downtown area a facelift so that people could relive their moments at Denholms,” he said. “I also wanted to show the newer generations how this building and the city of Worcester looked back in previous times, when streets were crowded, stores were bustling with business and times were a bit simpler.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010