Sunday, December 22, 2013

When downtown meant Christmas

 I was so thrilled to see this post from the New England Historical Society on the web.  It mention's Denholms as well as a host of other stores, and the significance that they all played in heralding in the Christmas season with lights, decorations, and elaborate window displays.  Gone are the days of these big downtown anchors, but it sure would be great if Denholms tree of lights could shine again our our downtown.
 Check out the link below and see if you can remember any of these former stores.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Denholms animated windows

  I was sent this photo by one of the former display managers from Denholms.  It shows the animated windows all dressed up for the holidays.  He stated that he believed it was taken around 1965....
  So many people have memories of walking the store windows as a child and being mesmerized by the animated figures and twinkling lights in stores such as Denholms, Filene's, and Barnard's.  It is such a shame that more stores and building don't dress up their storefronts in downtown to rekindle the sparkle that it once had.

  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season, and best wishes to you all.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Denholms at Christmas time

   With today being "Black Friday", I wanted to share a few images of what Denholms looked like during the Christmas season.   We are all familiar with the lit tree on the front of the building, but the High street entrance got dressed up as well.  The above photo is from 1965 with the live trees placed above the entrance.
   I also wanted to share an ad that I found showcasing holiday attire that was popular that year from the After Five shop on the third floor.
   I will be at the building for a couple of days this week installing a new trim package to the Main Street windows.  I look forward to sharing them with you all in the near future.
Till then, all my best to you all, and keep the memories coming...I love to hear them!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

40 years since the closing

Telegram and Gazette archives

It is hard to believe, but it will be 40 years that Denholms vacated the downtown Worcester building that it occupied for over 100 years.  On November 26th, 1973 the legendary Main Street store held its last sale, and closed on Wednesday-Thanksgiving Eve.  The photo above was from the Telegram and Gazette archives and shows the vacant display windows with store closing signs.  Denholms succumbed to poor miss management in its final years, and it was one of the first major retailers to close up shop.  
As the Telegram website reads..."Gone but not forgotten".

Monday, September 23, 2013

Remembering Worcester

Recently I have found myself very interested in some online groups and websites that I thought you all might like as well.

The first is on Facebook, and is a group called-
Your probably from Worcester if...  This is a great site and allows members to post their own recollection of all things Worcester.  Watch out though, it can be addictive.
Your probably from Worcester if...

The second is a historical website of vintage pictures from the turn of the century till the early 1970's.  Denholms was recently featured on the site!
The website is Shorpy Historical Photo Archives
Courtesy of The Hack Attack blog

The last is a photo gallery by the Worcester Historical Museum on Tumblr and it features mainly archival images of Worcester during its heyday.

I hope that you enjoy these as much as I do.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to School in 1964

Today's post takes us back to the year 1964 as the summer was winding down, and students were preparing to head off to college.
   The window display above featured the talented illustration work of Emil Grilli who was Denholms primary in house illustrator and sign painter.  Grilli also did work for various other retailers in Worcester such as Barnards, and Ware Pratt.
   Back then most stores had all of their signage painted by hand or used a printing machine to make the various sale and sizing signage (usually 5x7").  The role of the in house illustrator would be to paint out the larger signs used in window display (called copy strips), floor advertisements, directional signage, as well as props for the windows and interiors.  This is an art form that has long since passed with the invention of larger screen printing machines, as well as vinyl letters applied to the glass. 
  Mr. Grilli was a talented commercial artist, sign painter and sculpture, and his work is still collected by admirers of his talent.

Till the next quick post, I hope that you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Retro Charge Cards

Today many of us carry around a host of charge cards which fill up our wallets.  The cards nowadays are 2"x 3 1/2" plastic cards which all of us are familiar with.  Before the early 1970's charge cards were small metal cards which employees would insert into a charge press with carbon paper to make an imprint.  In today's post I have a few examples of old Denholms charges along with the respective case for carrying them.  Do you remember these?

And when the billing time came due, you probably received one of these in the mail. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Updated windows at the Denholm

This week I took a few days and updated the center bank of windows.  Aside from doing the displays, I washed the glass both inside and out, re-glazed all of the main windows ( a goal of mine for two years to prevent exhaust from entering the displays), as well as touching up all of the chipping paint around the window sashes.  All in a labor of love for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The Denholm building will be a part of an upcoming tour titled "Around the Common" which will highlight the significant buildings surrounding the common.  This is being held by Preservation Worcester and should take place around September.  I feel that it is so important to have displays in some of these older buildings as it gives a bit of life and excitement to the street-scape.
Window #1 is for Worcester Community Action Council and is made up of painters tape found at your local hardware store.  I did this in a graphic pattern which mimics the logo the council uses.
Window #2 is for Worcester Electronics repair and is based off of the new "Windows 8" operating system.  The montage is made up of brightly colored paper, images of computer electronics, as well as glittered paper for sparkle.  The large TV in the photo will be playing a power point presentation of the repairs that can be done at this location.

Window #3 is for Dress For Success and is a paper sculpture made up of 2,000 dyed water cooler cups hung on brightly colored yarn in a semi circular formation.  the mannequin also received an updated look of brightly colored pants, a taupe silk top, and printed scarf which works back to the overall color scheme.

Until the next Denholms post, I thank you all for reading my blog and remembering a building that is very important to me.
All my best,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers Day

I just wanted to wish all of the mothers out there who inspire and guide us on a daily basis a wonderful and well deserved Mothers Day.
This photograph is of my mother during a Denholms fashion show in 1966 on the third floor.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A vintage Denholms find

Vintage DG Williams mannequin from Denholms

Recently I was so lucky to find a vintage Denholms mannequin.  She is from the vendor D.G Williams who was the premier mannequin manufacturer during the 50's and 60's.  Denholms bought a large lot of these mannequins to be used in the better Dress department as well as the Salisbury shop.  I am having her fully restored to save into my collection as well as a possible use in an upcoming exhibit. 

Her original face
same mannequin in original form

 These are the proper arms which I am having put back onto her, as well as recreating the auburn 1960's hairstyle and stiff buckram lashes.
Mannequins from the DG Williams collection showcased at Denholms

Adel Rootstein mannequins at Ralph Lauren
 Many people don't realize how much body styles change in mannequins over the years.  The vintage DG Williams is 5'7" tall and her measurements are 32"26"32".  The mannequins I presently work with are from Adel Rootstein and they run 5'11-6' tall and they are 34"27"34". 

If anyone knows of the wearabouts of any Denholms mannequins or fixtures from either the Worcester of Auburn store, Please let me know.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Upcoming Denholms Presentation reminder

I am thrilled to be partnering with Preservation Worcester to hold a lecture and slide show to help educate and hopefully restore what was once Worcesters largest and most beloved store.

The event begins at the 484 entrance where I will speak to my restoration efforts to help beautify the building,then the group with ride the original escalators up to the third floor where the presentation will be held.

Date- Wednesday March 20th 5:30 pm
Lecture starts at 5:45 pm at the United Way office on the third floor.

The Denholms book will be available to purchase at the event (cash or check only).
Reservations are suggested but not required.  Call 508-754-8760 or email

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Blizzard of 1961 in downtown Worcester

   With all of the snow we have received lately I wanted to take everyone back to an early snowstorm in Worcester's history. The Blizzard of 1961 took place on Sunday December 24th and dropped over two feet of new snow on top of an existing snow pack.

  The photo above was taken in front of the former Filene's department store on Main Street looking North. The lights of Denholms Christmas tree are still twinkling in the snow filed street.
  Here is another view of Denholms taken on the West side artery near the parking deck.  In the background you can see the former YWCA, as well as St.Paul's cathedral, and the girls trade school on the right.
   I want to thank a very kind gentleman who gave me these pictures when I was at the Denholm building last year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Denholms Varsity shop

I wanted to forward to all of you an interesting article which was brought to my attention.  This is for an olive green tweed sport-coat bought at Denholms Varsity Shop during the early 1960's.

  The Varsity shop catered towards a younger man (primarily going to collage or landing their first job).  The department offered everyday "prep" items such as khaki overcoats, slim fitting suits and sport-coats, as well a complete array of oxford shirts and pencil ties.

The Varsity shop was situated on the third floor in the Chatham Building after the High Street renovations in 1964. The department was appointed with wide pine paneled walls and vintage carriage sconces (as seen in this photo).

 Here is a link to the post /denholms Varsity shop
as well as I link which I have bookmarked on the main page to an amazing blog dedicated to the history of department stores.  Please check it out and scroll by state to see Denholms as well as hundreds of other department stores. the department store denholm-and-mckay-co-worcester.html