Boston Store, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Boston Store's collection of 5- and 7-story buildings
were featured in its advertising from a very early date

Anchoring the west end of the shopping district
along West Wisconsin Avenue, the store was
subtly changed and embellished over the years.

Post-war optimism was expressed in this rendition
of the store from the 1940s.

Boston Store - "The Heart of Milwaukee"

Boston Store (1900)
331 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

BRoadway 1-5020

Lower Level
Records & Tapes 712 • Cameras 290 • Patio and Garden Shop 675 • Casual Furniture

First Floor
Avenue Sportswear 385 • Avenue Blouses 230 • Dress Accessories 251 • Fashion Jewelry 145 • Fine Jewelry 142 • Fine Contemporary Jewelry 144 • Handbags 170 • Hosiery 251 • Millinery 410 • Jewel Boxes 170 • Leather Goods 170 • Gloves 260 • Hat Bar • Cosmetics • Hearing Aids 125 • Razor Shop 126 • Notions 100 • Avenue Shoes 428 • Shoe Loft 428 • Candy 210 • Stationery 200 • Le Garbage 200 • Books 190 • Calculators 201 • Wines and Liquors 744 • Gourmet Shop • Notions • Beauty Aids
Men’s Shops Men’s Clothing 500 • Men’s Outerwear • Men’s Shoes 540 • Gallery Sportswear 515 • Men’s Tailored Sportswear 505 • Men’s Accessories 511 • Men’s Furnishings 510 • Men’s Sportswear 576 • Men’s Coordinates 575 • Men’s Sport Furnishings 576 • Men’s Casual Sportswear 577 • Gear Shop 502 • Levis 503 • Varsity Shop 502

Service Balcony • Optical Department • Surgical Department

Fashion Second
Coat Shop 320 • Ski Shop 572 • Avenue Coats 328 • Suits 322 • Fur Salon • Misses’ Avenue Dresses 368 • Contemporary Budget Dresses 369 • Women’s World 387 • Women’s Avenue Dresses 348 • Women’s Dresses 334 • Town & Country Casuals 383 • Club Sport 389 • Better Sportswear 390 • Sport Shop 359 • 80 Sportswear 582 • 80 Dresses 355 • Pacesetter Dresses 355 • Pacesetter Sportswear 380 •  Colony Room 357 • Crystal Room 358 • Cosmopolitan Room 355 • Milwaukee Room 354 • Shoe Salon 421, 423 • Millinery

Third Floor
Junior Center
Junior Sportswear 372, 375 • Junior Dresses 374 • Junior Coats 373 • Young Juniors 377 • Junior Shoes
Sleepwear 430 • Robes 480 • Body Shapers 451 • Lingerie 440 •Maternity Shop 352
Youth Center Girls’ & Teens Accessories 466 • Girls’ 7 Teens Lingerie • Children’s Shoes 479 • Infants 460 • Infants’ Furniture 463 Girls’ 4-6x 464 • Girls’ 7-14 471 • Teens 473 • Toddlers • Boys 4-7 465 • Boys 8-20 550, 552

Fourth Floor
Lamps 640 • Paintings 700 •  Pictures and Mirrors 700 • Occasional Furniture 606 • Upholstered Furniture 601 • Bedroom and Dining Room Furniture 602 •  Sleep Shop 603 • Dual Sleep 603 • Floor Coverings 610 • Carpeting 610

Fifth Floor
Silverware 160 • Glassware 652 • China 650 • Gifts 280 • Wooden Spoon 673 • Housewares 671 • Magicolor Paints 671 • Modern Living 674 • Small Electrical Appliances 672 • Table Linens 61 • Major Appliances 690 • Home Entertainment Center 716, 717 • Luggage 560 • Trim the Home Shop 285 • Hardware • Spic ‘n’ Span Shop

Sixth Floor
Domestics 70 • Bath Shop 62 • Bed Coverings 80 • Draperies 630 • Fashion Fabrics • Art Needlework • Photograph Studio 765 • Green Tree Dining Room

Seventh Floor
Sporting Goods 571 • Golf Shop • Ski Shop 572 • Dairy State • Harry’s CafĂ© • Town Hall Auditorium
(516,000 s.f.)

Bay Shore
March, 1958
141,000 s.f.
Bay Shore Buffet

Boston Village
53rd and Fond du Lac
August, 1962
89,000 s.f.

Brookfield Square
March, 1967
221,000 s.f.
Garden Terrace Dining Room

October, 1969
221,000 s.f.
Garden Court Dining Room

N. 76th St. at Brown Deer Road
155,000 s.f.

The Purple Skillet Restaurant

Coming in due course.


  1. From Donna
    Had a wonderful tome visiting friends in Milwaukee in the 70's and got my first set of skiis and poles here. They were red/white and blue (Haglund?}.I think many things were pretty Bi-centennial related then. Also,I got a pair of stars and stripes ski pants-very trendy then and probebly now, if I still had them. The staff went to great lengths telling me about the products. Thanks to the Morgans for that fun time in my life.

  2. Is this the same Boston Store from Erie PA????

  3. No, it is not. There is no relation to it or the other stores known as "Boston Store;" it was a popular early name for a department store. Some of the names stuck, like the ones in Milwaukee and Erie; others, like Diamond's in Phoenix and the J.W.Robinson Co. in Los Angeles changed their names in the course of time.

  4. I worked in the advertising department at the downtown flagship store fro 1986 till about 1993. Since Boston Store's early days, all advertising was done in-house. It was very interesting to see all the images from the early days of the store.

    I still keep in contact with some of the buyers and former coworkers.

  5. Is it the same Boston Store that was in Massena, NY in the mid-60's? Great store!

  6. I wonder if any Chicagoans who visited Milwaukee back then ever thought, "Carson's ripoff" when they glanced at that logo.

    1. Caron, Pirie, Scott / Chicago and Boston Store / Milwaukee came under the same corporate roof back in the '80s, I think it was. That's when the logos and much of the advertising was unified. That group of stores subsequently was bought out by an even larger group. HQ is in Milwaukee, on the upper floors of the still-operating downtown Boston Store (there are several others also still operating in the city -- not as many as the historical list on this site, though). Boston Store also in the '80s was connected to the new enclosed Grand Avenue Mall along Wisconsin Ave. and to the city's skywalk system, and a planned new hotel development right across the street on N. 4th will likely also be linked. Boston Store just signed a deal with the city to maintain the store and its corporate HQ at the site.

  7. Question: There were several different BOSTON STORE names throughout the country, none of them affiliated. So, what was the fascination for this name to be chosen as a store name? Did implying "Boston" in the name mean something? Curious minds want to know.

  8. My mother-in-law was very poor growing up. She had 9 sibblings. Christmas presents just didn't happen ......except for one year a box arrived at their residence from THE BOSTON STORE she thought Milwaukee with a toy and a piece of clothing for each of them. Who can tell me the story behind this. This would have been in the 1920's sometime and she would like to know the story. Thanks.

  9. Could anyone confirm that there was monorail train set up on hanging on the ceiling where children could ride during the Christmas shopping season...I remember this as almost a whole floor being converted to toys for the Holidays. Or am I dreaming...Hope someone can help.

    Ken Hudak
    Milwaukee, WI 414.349.4409

    1. I remember the train running on a ceiling track, and the whole floor devoted to the holiday toy season, but I recall it was located in the Boston Store basement. The Boston Store window decorations were always the best.

    2. Yes, and if you do an online photo search you should be able to find photos and advertisements for this monorail system, which also showed up a Wanamaker's in Philadelphia and a Kresge's store in (I think) New Jersey.Probably other places, too. I just posted about this monorail on a Facebook page.

    3. P.S. The monorail ran on the ceiling of the 7th floor, which was Toyland for the Christmas season every year. I think it ran around 1960. Not sure how long it continued but it was gone in the arly '70s when I moved to Milwaukee and shopped that store.

    4. The monorail and secret gift shop were there at least in the 1966 and -1967 years, because it was the first time I could use my MPS bus pass to get downtown on my own. It may also have been there until 1969, as I "skipped" school for almost an entire month that year, and would go downtown to waste the days.

  10. Oh yes! I, too remember the Christmas train that you could ride above the toy department! We would drive downtown from the suburbs and look at the beautiful decorations in the windows and go up and ride the train! It was magical! Wish I had a picture of that!

    Amy Henning, Boise

  11. You're right Ken. The WHOLE top floor was converted to toyland at Christmas WITH a monorail that hung from the ceiling. It was amazing. We went every year.

  12. About the christmas presents that arrived to the family unknowen to them was probably closer to the late 1930's and their father was a world war 1 veterian. Does any one know of any benifit program going on at that time that the Boston Store may have participated in. How did they come up with their list of names?

  13. About the family that recieved a box for christmas from the Boston Store in Milwaukee. It was probably closer to the late 30's and their father was a world war 1 veterian. Was their a benefit program at that time that the Boston Store may have taken part in? How did they get this family's name? Any body know???

  14. My first job out of high school was working at Boston Store downtown in the billing department. This was in the old days before computers, when each and every charge card bill had to be individually processed on an ancient NCR billing machine. That was in 1973. I made $2.00 an hour.

  15. I do remember the Train in the Toy Dept. I also remember Boston Store had a Secret Gift Shop for kids so they could do their Christmas shopping for parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters etc. I think it was always in the Lower Level of the Downtown Store

    1. Oh, the Secret Gift Shop! Yes!!

  16. I remember going to charm school at Boston Store (downtown) in the 1960. My friend and I thought it was so grown up.

    1. I attended charm school at Boston Store dt around 1966. It was held in a back room on an upper floor. We received cosmetic samples and lessons in posture..grooming and glamour. It was very inspiring for a pre teen that rode on the route 30 bus down Wisconsin Avenue from the Washington Park neighborhood. We experienced childhood a bit longer than nowadays..and when we finally were allowed to venture out a bit it was magical indeed ~

  17. I am looking for information about custom made furniture for the Milwaukee Boston Store. My wife and I recently purchased a (I believe) 1940s matching couch and chair that has a sticker saying 'Bostonian, custom made furniture, Boston Store, Milwaukee, WI. The furniture still has red velvet mohair upholstery in very good condition. The style appears to be 1940s. Does anyone have any information on this furniture? Any information is appreciated.

  18. I have worked at Boston Store 29+ years...don't ever remember hearing about custom furniture made for the Boston Store, but will see what I can find out for you.

  19. I remember the secret gift shop. We waited all year to go, and my grandparents were excited to open their boxes. Still tell those stories to my children.

  20. The Christmas train suspended from the ceiling was awesome. My mother, 2 sisters, aunt, 3 cousins and I traveled from Sheboygan to Milwaukee on the train at Christmastime just to see the holiday decorations in the store windows and have a fun ride on the train. This was back in the 40's. Great memories.

  21. My mother worked there selling hair brushes, etc. in 1947, at the age of 16.

  22. I remember my parents taking me downtown during the Christmas holidays and riding the monorail in the toy section on the upper most floor. One additional thing I remember about riding the escalators to that top floor was that the last escalator was narrow--half the width of the lower floor escalators. Anyone remember that?

    1. I do remember the narrow escalator too! As I recall, the treads were black rubber like material and not metal.


  23. Hi Ken,

    I rode that monorail train (probably in December 1967) that was attached to the ceiling of Boston Store 7th floor. Our family would go shopping every December at Boston Store. We would take the escalators all the way up to the top - that was part of the fun of Christmas shopping. I was given an allowance of $5 to buy presents for 3 brothers, and 2 sisters. Wish there were pictures of the store from back then.

    Have a Merry Christmas


  24. Does anyone know if Boston Store ever had a location in West Allis? The West Allis fire dept. has a picture of them putting a fire out at a Boston Store which was next to F,.W. Woolworth. Woolworth was located at 71st and Greenfield.

    1. That must have been downtown. Woolworth was next door. There were no Boston Stores in West Allis.

  25. Got to see lots of hidden spaces in the downtown Boston Store during its 1980s remodeling. There were originally 4-5 19th century buildings on the north end that had been integrated into the Boston Store, each with its own bank of elevators, most of which were abandoned in-place as surplus or antiquated. Glad I got to see it when I did, as a fully functioning department store.

  26. Now as of April 20th 2018 Bon-Ton stores parent of Boston Store, Carson`s, Berengers,Elder-Beerman,Herbergers & Younkers stores will be in LIQUIDATION.
    And with it goes the fine stores with history back to 1856, it looks like the internet helped to kill this retail group along with not enough Brick & Mortar store sales.

  27. Does anyone know in what year the Boston Store in Milwaukee installed escalators?


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