In November of 1917, The Lasalle & Koch Co.
moved to a 9-story building designed by
the New York firm of Starrett & Van Vleck.
Ten years later, the cornice was raised
and extra floors were added to the building, which
was designed in the Italian Renaissance style.
A concave bank of elevators serving
the upper floors was a fairly unique feature of the store,
one repeated by the same architects in their design
for the similar Davison-Paxon store in Atlanta.
Lasalle's became associated with the R.H. Macy Co.
of New York in 1923, but retained its own name.
Interestingly, the store building pre-dates the merger
but has much in common with Macy's
facilities from the same era.
A street-level photo emphasizes the height and bulk
of Lasalle's, but also shows how the period details
give the large building a welcoming, human quality.
513 Adams Street
Toledo, Ohio 43603
Hardware • Garden Shop • Dining Room
Lasalle’s Budget Store
Sweaters • Blouses • Main Floor Sportswear • Millinery • Notions • Accessories • Scarves • Hosiery • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Ladies’ Shoes • Jewelry • Fine Jewelry • Silver • Books Stationery • Candy • Gourmet Foods • Men’s Accessories • Men’s Furnishings • Dress Shirts • Ties • Men’s Shoes • Razor Shop • Men’s Sportswear • Sport Shirts • Young Men’s Shop • Men’s Clothing • Men’s Outerwear • New Traditions
Repair Center • Coins and Stamps
Misses’ Sleepwear • Loungewear • Robes • Foundations • Jr. Intimate Shop • One Stop Maternity Shop • Shoes • Joyce Patio • Designer Shoes • Pin Money Shop
Fashion Third Dresses • Sportswear • Better Dresses • Better Sportswear • Better Blouses • Better Sweaters • Contemporary Sportswear • Country Corner • Miss Lasalle Shop • The Clubhouse • After 5 Shop • Town Shop • The Little Shop • Coats • Fur Salon • Tannery • Young Collector • Perspective • Women’s World
Junior World Junior Dresses • Junior Coordinates • Jr. Scene • Junior Separates • Junior Coats
Young World Children’s Accessories • Children’s Shoes • Infants • Toddlers • Girl’s Wear • Boys’ Wear • Teen Shop • Luggage • Toy World
Domestics • Sheets • Comforters • Bedspreads • Draperies • Custom Draperies • Fabrics • Art Needlework
China • Crystal • Glassware • Gifts • Housewares • Cookware • Stereos and Radios • Televisions • Major Appliances • Sweepers • Records • Espresso Bar
Customer Services • Beauty Salon • Lamps • Sporting Goods
Executive Offices • The Country House • The Grill Room • The English Room • The French Room
Furniture • Chairs • Bedding • Rugs • Broadloom • Karastan Gallery • Pictures • Mirrors • The Corner Shop • Music Center
(398,000 sq. ft.)
139. South Main St.
71 S. Washington St.
Columbus Ave at Washington Row
514 S. Main St.
Central at Secor
The Terrace Room
North Towne Square
Alexis Road at I-75
The Terrace Room
After the war, he married, and was able to determine with his wife, Sybilla, that Toledo, Ohio would be a an ideal location to found a retail business. Accordingly, on September 14, 1865, along with his business partner Joseph Epstein, Lasalle opened a store at 51 Summit Street that bore both of their names.
Around the same time, Joseph Koch (1850-1904) came to Toledo and worked in various Summit Street stores until, in 1877, he opened his own dry-goods operation with partner Alies Cohen. By 1881, Koch left the partnership with Cohen, and took a job at Lasalle's store. Cohen himself joined Lasalle and Koch in business by 1883, when the store became known as Lasalle, Cohen and Koch, and was relocated to the corner of Summit and Adams Streets.. When Cohen left the business in 1886, the Lasalle & Koch Co. was born. The company included other members of the Lasalle and Koch families as directors.
After adding two floors to the Summit Street premises, the Lasalle & Koch Co. outgrew its space, and sought to occupy a large commercial building, built in 1889, by Toledo's august Secor family, at the corner of Jefferson and Superior streets. Critics advanced the idea that the new location was a poor choice, away from Toledo's shopping epicenter at Summit and Adams streets, even though it offered the growing store a wealth of space at the time.
As it would do 17 years later, Lasalle & Koch's move proved its mettle as the store that would call itself "Toledo's Greatest" in the future. The shopping public flocked to the new store that opened to great fanfare on April 1, 1900, so much so that major expansions and additions to the store were undertaken just 6 and 8 years, respectively, after it opened. In addition, the store was big enough to rival current market-leader Milner's, and its breadth and newness left established competition in smaller, older premises on a street that was set to decline.
Unfortunately, though, Joseph Koch died quite suddenly on June 26, 1904. Koch had taken Louis Eppstein in to the business, whom he once found peddling newspapers on Lasalle & Koch's corner. Legend has it that Eppstein simply asked Koch for a job, who obliged on the condition that he do odd jobs first, so that he could afford to outfit himself in a manner appropriate to working at Koch's store.
After Joseph Koch's death, His son Alfred left his studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and came to work for Lasalle's. He and Eppstein became acquainted, and the older employee helped the younger Koch ease into a leadership position. It was indeed the acumen, leadership and energy of Alfred B. Koch as general manager, and later as president, that led the Lasalle & Koch company on to further, highly impressive growth.
In August of 1916, while Europe inploded from the Great War, Lasalle's announced that financing was secured from Toledoan Edward D. Libbey, to build a magnificent new nine-story retail building at Adams and Huron Streets. Once again, the Lasalle & Koch Co. was poised to drag Toledo's retail nucleus outward, and in this case further north.
The beautiful new store, designed by the New York firm of Starrett and Van Vleck, was crafted in stone and brick, with bronze and marble detailing highlighting the arches that formed its vertical walls along Adams and Huron streets. The bay-like vitrines that filled the arches at the street floor were compared in the press to "a series of crystal palaces," and the store had an additional entrance to the Spitzer building arcade to the west, which allowed pedestrians to travel from Adams west to Madison Street, protected from Toledo's variable weather. It was not long before this passageway became a part of the lives of Toledo residents and was informally nick-named "Lasalle Street." No doubt the effect was heightened by the great, 29-foot height of the store's main floor.
There was every possible convenience a customer of the day could want, and the store's eighth floor housed a large restaurant and auditorium for special events. Even a rooftop terrace for employee recreation was included in the beautiful landmark building that, from the time of its opening, set Lasalle's apart from the mundane. Eighty thousand people passed through Lasalle & Koch's doors on opening day.
Jacob Lasalle passed away in the autumn of 1921, and Alfred Koch was able to purchase 100 per cent of the company's shares from the owner families, as a result of the business growth that the new building spurred. His intention was not to retain full control of the company, but to find a suitable partner that could help take the business to the next level of growth. That partner was New York's R. H. Macy & Company.
Flush from its own unprecedented growth and the resultant profits, Macy's purchased the Lasalle & Koch Co. in 1923, and went on to expand to Newark, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia; San Francisco, California; and Kansas City, Missouri within the next two decades.
The hinted-at growth came three years later, when Koch announced that a "Larger Lasalle & Koch Store" would be accomplished by adding three floors to the existing store, just 10 years after it opened. The second grand opening was characterized by the exposition of a series of paintings in Lasalle & Koch's display windows, created by muralist Arthur Covey, that illustrated the industrial and business growth of Toledo.
The famous weather-vane on Lasalle & Koch's roof joined the three iconic water towers atop the store in 1932, when Alfred Koch entered into a bet and agreed to erect a weather-vane atop his store if Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin Roosevelt.
Alfred Koch died of a heart attack in 1937, and he was succeeded by his friend Louis Eppstein, who remained at the helm unti 1940. From that time on, Lasalle's leadership came from the larger Macy organization, such as Richard Lennihan, who served from 1940 through 1949, or Michael Yamin who succeeded him.. It was widely recognized, though, that the great Lasalle & Koch store, such a landmark among department stores and certainly a standout in Toledo, was indeed a monument to the leadership of Alfred B. Koch.
As the second world war drew to a close, Lasalle's took steps to extend its reach as a regional retailer. First, it purchased the well-established business of A. Froney & Co. in Bowling Green Ohio late in 1944. The ancient building was refaced in 1945 in a sleek stone- and glass-clad international style, and nearby Tiffin, Ohio got a Lasalle's store in 1947 Two years later, a three-story branch opened to the east of Toledo in the center of Sandusky. A store in Findlay, Ohio, was projected in 1946, but had to wait until 1954 until conditions were right to build and open it.
From 1957 to 1958, a serious strike by Retail Associates, Inc., a union for Toledo store workers, caused trouble for Lasalle's as well as its neightbors, Lamson's and the Lion Store. Lasalle's was, on occasion, attacked with stink-bombs and an infestation of mice and pigeons. A Catholic monsignor, Rev. Michael Doyle, was able to help resolve the conflict on Christmas Eve, 1958, but the issue remained in litigation for the next eleven years - albeit without the violence that plagued the stores during the strike itself.
On a more positive note, Lasalle's, which advertised itself as being "just five minutes from New York," used the New York connection to hold some events that were characteristic of much larger cities. Toledo residents could enjoy a memorable flower show that transformed the large store into a veritable botanical garden for six days in 1960. Later, elaborate import fairs (first held at Lasalle & Koch's in the 1930s) drew crowds of customers and focused on the culture and wares of Italy, England and the Mediterranean.
It was not until February of 1962 that Lasalle's opened a suburban branch, at the Westgate shopping center, where a large Lion Store branch had opened several years earlier. The store's popular location, modern conveniences, and large selections ensured its popularity for many years. Further branches opened at Woodville Mall east of Toledo in 1969, and at North Towne Square near the Michigan border in 1980.
The North Towne store was as up-to date and memorable as would befit an R. H. Macy store of the day, when the New York headquarters was re-casting itself as a fashionable, up-to-the-minute west-side answer to Bloomindgale's, and North Towne boasted a memorable, club-like restaurant over the store's mall entrance.
By this time, however, Macy's began to question the viability of its operations in smaller midwestern cities, so it combined the Toledo operation with its stores in Kansas City in 1982. This alienated Toledo customers, who saw Lasalle's as "their" local store, as did the name change to Macy's that was a part of the same action. Lasalle's downtown, Toledo's last big-city department store, closed bearing a Macy*s nameplate in 1984, and the branches in Bowling Green, Tiffin and Sandusky followed suit not long after. What remained was sold to Elder-Beerman stores in 1986, erasing practically every trace of the once-prominent Lasalle name from the Toledo landscape.