Herpolsheimer Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan

Read about Herpolsheimer's in
Michael Hauser's new book

The new, ultramodern Herpolsheimer store casued a stir
when it was announced after World War II.  The store
was to replace their older 10-story building on Monroe Avenue,
which was purchased and reopened by Wurzburg's in 1951.

The building, as constructed, reflected postwar optimism,
and if anything, made more of an impression than the architect's
renderings which forecast it, prior to its opening in 1949.

The dramatically-illuminated store, with its 3-story glass vestibule
entrance, was one of the most modern and attractive in the United
States.  A large American Flag was often hung on display.

Herpolsheimer Co. (1870)
1 Monroe
Grand Rapids, Michigan

GL 9-5119


Fashion Basement

Louis Street Level
Toys • Sporting Goods • Paints • Garden Shop • Appliances • Electronics Center The Kent Room Restaurant • Records

Street Floor
Monroe Fine Jewelry • Jewelry • Leather Goods • Gloves • Accessories • Hat Bar • Cosmetics • Men's Furnishings • Men's Sportswear • Men's Clothing • Men's Shoes • The Sir Shop
Division World of Shoes • Forecast Sportswear • Hosiery
Motorstairs Esquire Smoke Shop • Candy • Blouses • Sweaters • Boys' Wear • Boys' Furnishings
Fulton Street Linens • Fabrics • Art Needlework • Notions • Stationery • Books • Optical Shop • Luncheonette

Second Floor
Monroe Lingerie • Corsetiere Shop • Housecoats • Sleepwear • Robes • Jr. Sportswear • Junior Dresses • Junior Coats • Seventeen Shop • Pin Money Dresses • Daytime Dresses • World of Dresses • Moderate Dresses • Suburban Shop
Division One Shop • Coats • Suits • Fur Salon • Bridal Salon
Motorstairs Blouses • Millinery • Wigs
Fulton Street The Kent Room Restaurant • Beauty Salon
Louis Street Sportswear • Shoe Salon • Infants' Wear • Infants' Furniture • Heaven to Seven Shop • Toddlers' Wear • Girls' Wear • Miss Kent Shop • Teen Shop • Photo Reflex Studio

Third Floor
Monroe Luggage • Furniture • Sleep Center
Division Draperies • Carpeting
Fulton Street Lamps
Louis Street Gift Shop • Pictures and Mirrors • Housewares Center • China • Silver • Glassware • White-Elna Sewing Center


Hardy Herpolsheimer Co.
Western Avenue
Muskegon, Michigan


  1. Fun fact: After Herpolsheimer's closed, this building was remodeled into a mall in attempt to revive downtown shopping. After that failed, it was turned into a mall that targeted infants and young children. It's now a police station.

    1. Jlj49684@yahoo.com22 December, 2016 07:32

      The Grand Rapids Police Dept was not at this address but across the street and currently. It is now occupied by the wonderful UICA, an Art Museum associated with Kendall and Ferris State University. Visit Uica.org

    2. No, the UICA is on the opposite corner- the southwest corner- of Fulton and Division. Herp’s, now home to the GRPD and a Michigan Secretary of State office, is on the northwest corner.

      Previous to UICA, there was a multilevel parking structure on the southwest corner.

  2. Was this the department store featured in the movie "The Polar Express"?

  3. I remember the ride in the basement. It was on a track attached to the ceiling and you would sit in a little car and ride around the basement overlooking it. That's when I was a little guy of course.

    1. It was in a cafeteria type setting in the basement. I remember riding it as a kid.

  4. Over the past year 2010–2011, the suspended monorail train which debuted in 1949 as "Santa Express" is being restored. It will one day be installed in the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Van Andel Center.


    Great work BAK! How far back are you writing about these Grand Rapids Department Stores? There's some great photo resources I can point you in their direction.

    James Winslow (Powers Behind Grand Rapids)

  5. I found a very old beautiful little dish belonging to my great aunt. On the bottom it reads, "Decorated Expressley for Herpolsheimer Co. It has a number on it as 11. I am trying to read the artist. Something like Hodis or Hoelie. Do you have any idea of the who the artist could be.
    Thank you. Kathy

  6. I remember when I was little, and this was then the City Center mall, my grandma took me there and I rode the train! :-)

  7. What an GREAT piece of post war modern architecture.

  8. I loved this store when I was little. I remember I called it "Purplescheimers" because of the purple train. My favorite memories are of the fountain that shot up at different heights, the glass elevator, the food court, the cool train on the ceiling, and this really cool store called The Great Divide. Half of the store was U of M and the other half was MSU. Even the carpet was different on each side!

  9. I worked at Herpolsheimers from 1963 to 1969. Starting pay was $1.25 an hour. I started in the Photo Studio, but eventually worked in most of the departments. It was a wonderful place to work.

  10. Im seeking information and photos of the Wurzburgs store in downtown Grand Rapids. My grandmother was personnel director there early in the 60's

  11. Herpolshiemer's also had it's first and only suburban store in the Southland Mall in Wyoming, MI purchased from Wurzburg's and opened in 1974 (see Wurzburg's Southland)

  12. One holiday season I worked in the toy department of Herpolsheimers. what a joy filled time caring for the dolls in the Toy Department~!!!

  13. Have come across a (Grand Rapids)Herpolsheimer's mink cape (black). It is in excellent condition... Just wondering how to get information about the item and maybe what it could be worth.

  14. My mother bought her fine hosiery here and I can't remember the brand . . . do you know what it was? Or what brands they carried? It's been driving me crazy and my sisters can't remember either!

  15. I don't know a lot about ladies' hosiery, but some brands sold by department stores at the time included Belle Sharmeer, Hanes, Berkshire, Christian Dior, and Triumph.


  16. Can you name some of the stores and restaurants that were in the old City Center Mall?

  17. An old Hardy Hepolsheimer fur coat came into our thrift shop, I am wondering about value of the coat. Do you know anything about this, or do you have any references that I could maybe contact regarding the coat? Thanks!

  18. Any pics of the Wyoming store??

  19. The Wyoming store was acquired from Wurzburg's - and a picture can be found on that page. I am currently in early planning stages for a book about Grand Rapids department stores, which should come out in 2014 or 2015, and I am sure that will tell the whole story in detail.

  20. While the train was pretty cool, my favorite memories are the huge blueberry muffins, they were the best I've ever eaten and the Christmas window displays. I remember so many walks along the outside of the building to look at those moving displays. I wish I could give those memories to my children and grandchildren. Those were such marvelous times.

  21. BAK, do you know yet when your book will be released? I am definitely interested! :) I was born in '77 so Herpolsheimer's was before my time, but my parents have great memories of that place from when they were kids! I remember the City Center Mall from when I was a kid. I loved the train they had around the ceiling and I remember my mom telling me that she had ridden it too when it was Herpolsheimer's. I know the City Center wasn't as grand as the original store was, but I have good memories of that place anyway. I wish I could have seen Herpolsheimer's though when it was in its prime! I have never met anyone who did not love their memories of that store! It is such a shame that building was ever remodeled from its original mid-century modern design. Now it's just a big brick building housing the Grand Rapids Police Station! Not nearly as cool.

  22. One more thing... have you ever done any research on Du Mez Department Store that was in Holland, MI? I'm not sure when it opened but it closed sometime in the 80's. I remember going there when I was a young child. Here is a link to a picture of what the building currently looks like. It now has other stores in its building.


  23. Love this site and particularly the sections about Grand Rapids department stores. I work in entertainment and my production company is currently working on getting a Christmas movie made that is time travel. The main character steps back in time in to a department store in Grand Rapids, Michigan circa 1960's called Herpolburg's. A combination of Herpolsheimer's & Wurzburg's. Not only are we working on making a movie we are also looking to recreate the department store in the former public museum and also decorate the downtown area in vintage decorations as well. We then are going to open the set as an exhibit for the community to enjoy. One of the things we are doing is refurbishing the Herpolsheimer's train that hung from the ceiling that so many are talking about. The movie is titled "The Santa Hat" and co-stars Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show & Up) and Marion Ross (Happy Days and Gilmore Girls) I would love to talk to you more about your research that you are doing for your book. You can learn more about what we are up to and how people can help out at www.TheSantaHat.com

  24. Reading about old downtown Grand Rapids and the department stores, has brought back many wonderful memories. As a small child my Mom would take my twin sister and me shopping downtown to Herps, Wurzburg's, and Steketee's - (we would usually hide in the racks of clothing and not answer when she called our names). We would usually end up in Herpolsheimer's for there famous soft serve, malted milk, ice cream cones. That was before Dairy Queen and all the other soft serve places came about. The malted milk flavor soft serve was the best ever and I haven't seen it sold in any place other than Herp's. As a teenager we'd shop downtown and after high school, as an employee of Sentry Insurance, located on the 5th floor of the Keeler Bldg, I'd shop during my lunch hour and sometime after work. What a great experience. Something I'd love to have back again.

  25. I remember a cupcake that was white or yellow filled with custard pudding. It had a very creamy white fluffy frosting with coconut all over it. I sure wish that someone would make this or please give out the recipe. I had a girl at a bakery at a store make one once it was pretty close but never was able to get that recipe either.

  26. When I was a messenger for a local bank in 1979 I would deliver things to different places downtown. I wonder if anyone would know the lady's name that would wear everything the same color. I mean dress,shoes coat hat gloves etc. I only saw her a few times. She was always dressed so nice. I thought someone had told me that she worked somewhere downtown.

  27. Having worked for other West Michigan Department Stores in the 60s and 70s like Gilmore Brothers and Roger's Department Store, I took up the task as Director of Visual Merchandising for the Herpolsheimer's City Center renovation in cooperation with Allied Stores, NYC, the new parent company, Gantos, DeVres Architects, and the National Historic Registry. Plans had already been drawn up and the project underway when I was hired in in late Fall of 1984 - the Christmas Shopping season. The decision was made to keep the store open during the massive reconstruction and all goods and services were moved to the basement store and foot traffic was directed away from the main entrance around to a relatively ovscure entrance on Fulton St. near the parking garage entrance. As excited as everyone seemed about the project, I could see it was domed from its inception. The new Herpolsheimer's was smaller by nearly one half and traditional stockrooms were non-existent. When I met with the buyers to share with them the amount of rack space they had for the next season's ready-to-wear, they were unaware that the Allied Store guidelines had upped the quality of goods in favor of quantity and selection. I was nearly beaten with the massive roll of blueprints by each and every one with whom I met. Not only did I have the responsibility of the new City Center, but there were other stores in Jackson, Battle Creek and others whose locations - one more decrepit than the next, escape my memory. One day I officially resigned after trying to explain that the furniture department at the Southland Store did not posses the physical space to accommodate a huge shipment of sofas, recliners and end tables. I realized at that moment I was dealing with a downward and desperate management trying to hold on to the Department Store's heydays back in the 40s, 50s and early 60s. I still think fondly of Gilmore Brothers in Kalamazoo including Irving Gilmore, Eliot DeMeyer, Personel Manager and Clarence Engel, Window Display Manager, my mentor and friend who gave me my first creative job in 1968.

  28. I was a young college kid in the early 80's going to GRJC and working construction at the time of the City Center. I was fortunate to work on the project and see the history of the original building and hear the history from the job foreman, Sid Talsma, who has passed away many years ago. City Center was a effort to revitalize the downtown shopping after the urban expansion of the shopping malls. Although we all have great memories of Herps and a thriving downtown, we all liked the convenience of the shopping mall. Downtown has made a come back, but not without the help and financial investments of many prominent people. If you have questions about the finance of City Center, the original stores, and the goals of the program, you might be able to contact Dale and Bruce Visser of Visser Brothers Construction. They were the general contractor on the City Center Project. Hope this helps.

  29. I remember riding the monorail. It was a glorious experience. I still have my very special picture with Santa that was taken there or at Wurzburgs about 1949. This Santa was a beautiful Santa who looked so realistic and with such a kind face !

  30. In years 1962 and 1963, I did a puppet show in the store window "Pip the Mouse". It was one of 35 shows across the U.S. and Canada the brain child of George Creegan and the Bliss Company of Astoria built the set. There was no heat in the store window and Santa froze in his sleigh. The store engineer changed the grease and told me "that's how the Germans lost the war in Russia....wrong grease". I have often wondered if that was part of the inspiration for Polar Express. The Grand Rapids Press published a front page "puppet show stops traffic". I am one of the surviving puppeteers there is a permanent exhibit at the Liberty Bell Museum in Alantown PA of the original set that was in Hess Department store. A younger puppeteer keeps the tradition alive every year.

  31. I was hired to create and perform an original puppet show for the Easter season between 1962 and 1963. I wrote a script "Mrs. O.C. Rabbit and her children Hugo and Oglethorpe". I made the puppets and the store display artisan built me a beautiful set to perform my show. I asked for some specific details: a little flower box where I could "magically" have some flowers grow. He made something charming and it worked perfectly. Young Oglethorpe watered the flower box and the flowers magically grew! He also made me a special bath tub that Hugo could give Oglethorpe a bath in. This set was delivered to my home in East Grand Rapids and all of the children who went to Woodcliff School came class by class to see it. This was a convenient way for me to rehearse and make sure the show was smooth and fun. The children walked to my house from the school and sat on the floor of my basement puppet performance. Then Herpolsheimers moved the set to the children's shoe department and I did the show for 2 weeks. My two daughters, Wendy and Joy sometimes came with me and stood on either side of the stage after the show and handed out favors to the children in the audience. As I did with the Christmas show, probably 3 show an hour 6 hours a day. They certainly were good to me at Herpolsheimers. A happy memory.

  32. I vaguely remember Herpolsheimer's downtown as a whole store. I went with my grandmother to find shoes for myself for back to school and I didn't like any they had. Late 70s or early 80s?? It was sort of run down as I remember it, but when they closed and remodeled and it became City Center, I loved Herpolsheimer's! They had the best young men's department carrying all sorts of the brand, Generra and they also had an area that sold Coca-Cola clothing which was the cool thing to have. It was on the first floor Division Ave side I think. It was bright and very 80s. Also from that memory, I can still see the video monitors playing MTV in the department. It also smelled of a women's fragrance throughout the first floor too, I think it was Liz Claiborne. In the mall area I remember Einger (sp?) Shoes having a store. They moved in from their location on Monroe. It was very elegant, with crystal chandelier's, French furniture, and peach colored upholstery and carpeting. Steketee's also remodeled their store around that time. My grandmother preferred Steketee's over Herpolsheimer's and most definitely Roger's out in Wyoming. We would go downtown on occasion, it was the suburban malls and locations that she liked due to the ease of parking and also having lunch at Hudson's! Loved it!

  33. My Great Grandmother worked at Herps back in the 60s. I worked in the building after it was transformed into Grand Rapids Police dept. Now my son works in it as a Police dispatcher.

  34. I was photographed as a little girl,and that was used as one of the window displays.That's what my mother and aunts tell me.Never seen the image, but if it exists, I would LOVE to see it.


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