Miller & Rhoads, Richmond, Virginia


Click the picture to read an
authoritative history of
Miller & Rhoads

Miller & Rhoads "graced" the corner of Sixth and Grace in
downtown Richmond for many years.  3 new floors were
added to the 5-story 1924 building.


In 1950, Miller & Rhoads expanded down Sixth
Street to Broad Street, just across from its neighbor-
and major competitor, Thalhimer Brothers.

Miller & Rhoads (1885)
501 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia

MIdlothian 8-3111


DOWNTOWN STORE DIRECTORY

Lower Level
M&R Fashion Basement • Coffee Shop • Shoe Repair

Main Floor
Information • Fine Jewelry • Silver Store • Real Jewelry • Fashion Jewelry • Handbags • Gloves • Fashion Accessories • Scarves • Hosiery • Hat Bar • Career Blouses • Career Sweaters • Career Sportswear • Cosmetics • Fragrances • Stationery • Luggage • M&R Book Shop • Men's Accessories • Executive Gifts • Men's Furnishings • Men's Sportswear • Mansland • Young Men's Shop • Men's Izod Shop • Men's Clothing • Formal House • Men's Shoes • Boys' Wear

Balcony
Customer Service • Thomas Cook Travel Service

Second Floor
Career Dresses • Women's Dresses • Women's Sportswear • Misses' Dresses • Misses' Sportswear • Misses' Active Sportswear • Blouses • Sweaters • Misses' Coats • All-Weather Coats • Signature Dresses • Signature Sportswear • Better Coats • Country Club Sportswear • Virginia Room • Amethyst Room • Fur Salon • Bride's Shop • Millinery • Wig Salon • Career Shoes • Traditional Shoes • Shoe Salon • Lingerie • Foundations • Sleepwear • Robes • Beauty Salon
M&R Youth Center Children's Accessories • Children's Shoes • Infants' Wear • Toddlers' Wear • Girls' Wear • Teen Shop • Young juniors

Third Floor
Fabrics • Art Needlework • Sewing Machines
Junior Colony Junior Sportswear • Junior Dresses • Junior Coats • Junior Shoes

Fourth Floor
Bedding • Blankets • Bedspreads • Towel Shop • Bath Shop • Rugs • Carpets • Furniture • Slumber Shop • Interior Design Studio • Lamps • Curtains • Draperies • Home Advisory Bureau

Fifth Floor
The Tea Room • Gift Shop • Collector's Corner • China • Glassware • Linen Center • Pictures and Mirrors

Sixth Floor
Housewares • Small Appliances • Major Appliances • Sporting Goods • Toys • TV/Stereo • Records • Lifestyle Furniture • M&R Virginia Pantry

Seventh Floor
Credit Office • Cashier • Executive Offices • Old Dominion Room
(492,000 s.f.)


BRANCH STORES (through 1975)

Charlottesville (08.16.1956)
Main & 4th Sts.










Roanoke (04.1957)
Campbell and Henry Sts.
126,000 sq. ft.









Lynchburg (1957)
Main & Eighth Sts.











Willow Lawn (03.02.1961)
Richmond
30,000 sq. ft.

Pittman Plaza (11.17.1960)
Lynchburg
20,000 sq. ft.












Roanoke-Salem Plaza (1962)
Roanoke

Barracks Road Plaza (1965)
Charlottesville









Newmarket Shopping Center (1965)
Newport News

Southern Shopping Center (1965)
Norfolk

Pembroke Mall (03.1966)
Virginia Beach
88,000 sq. ft.

Southside Plaza (1965)
Richmond

Walnut Plaza (1965)
Petersburg

Crabtree Valley Mall (1972)
Raleigh, NC
35,000 sq. ft.

Tanglewood Mall (1973)
Roanoke
35,000 sq. ft.

Four Seasons Town Center (1974)
Greensboro. NC
35,000 sq. ft.

Regency Square (1975)
Richmond
130,000 sq. ft.

Chesterfield Mall (1975)
Richmond

Newmarket North
Hampton










Cross Creek Mall (1975)
Fayetteville, NC
35,000 sq. ft.

Eastland Mall (1975)
Charlotte, NC
35,000 sq. ft.

Tower Mall (1975)
Portsmouth
35,000 sq. ft.

44 comments:

  1. Which downtown Richmond store was larger? Miller & Rhoads or Thalhimers?

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  2. From the looks of things, I would say it was Miller & Rhoads; but I do not have accurate figures to prove my hypothesis. It simply had more floors and a larger ground coverage from what I can tell from a distance.

    Bruce

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  3. mmmm i'd say thalheimers look the the comparsion photo at the top thalheimers had a one floor height advantage on miller and rhodes but both were just EPIC stores (sigh) i really wish both had found a way to survive

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  4. I patronized both stores. Miller & Rhoads was definaltly larger and more upscale than Thalhimers.

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  5. Miller & Rhoads was by far larger. Thalhimer's only had 5 floors. If you look at the other side of M&R, you will note that most of the building was 7 stories. Only the Broad St. facade was 4 floors.

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  6. A couple of additions. The 4 story Broad Street section was a 1930's remodeling of the original early 1900's building. When Woolworth's built it's store at 5th and Broad in the mid '50s M & R expanded the first floor into a portion of the new building. For most of its time in business, Miller and Rhoads was thought of as Richmond's best store until Thalhimer's caught up and passed it in the late '70s. The building is now a Hilton Garden Inn hotel and condos.

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  7. I grew up in Richmond and my second home was Miller & Rhoads. I was in plays there in their beautiful Tea Room as a child, in the store shopping constantly as a teenager and worked there as an adult. Those huge department stores were the center of the community. I miss everything about it. Perry Ellis worked as a buyer at Miller & Rhoads in his 20's. Fortunes were made and broken right there in that store.

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  8. I remember at Miller & Rhoads downtown Richmond, they had the Tea Room Express elevator that would take you directly from the first floor to the fifth floor & we had lunch at the Tea Room. What great food! I remember when I called them by phone, they would answer "It's a beautiful day at Miller & Rhoads". Then there was that famous clock on the first floor... everyone would say "meet me under the clock at such & such a time"... everyone knew exactly what clock they were talking about.

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  9. What was the connection, if any, of Miller & Rhoads of Richmond to WG Swartz Co. of Norfolk, VA? I am asking because Swartz of Norfolk was once called Miller, Rhoads, & Swartz. Then the name changed to WG Swartz Co. circa World War I. At the end of the company Swartz had two locations, the main store downtown Norfolk and a branch location at Southern Shopping Center, also in Norfolk, VA. When Swartz went out of business in the early or mid 1960's, the downtown store was closed and the building torn down but the Southern location was rebranded as Miller & Rhoads. If my memory is correct I don't think the Southern location ever closed for business. Merchandise was put on reduction while under the Swartz nameplate, and then one day the store opened fully stocked rebranded as Miller & Rhoads. Although I could be incorrect, I don't think there was a gap in operations at the Southern Shopping Center location when the name changed to Miller & Rhoads.

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  10. Below is a link showing the original building of WG Swartz Co., then called Miller, Rhoads, & Swartz. This building was on East Main St. at the foot of Commercial Place in downtown Norfolk, VA. The next link is of the newer main building located at the SE corner of Bank & Plume Sts. This is the building that is most remembered by long time Tidewater residents. Apparently after this building was built, the orginal functioned as an annex, which I have been told was connected to the newer main building by a bridge over an alley. Both building sites are approximately where the Bank of America Center parking garage is now located as well as possibly a portion of Commercial Park.

    In the first photograph the Confederate monument is directly in front of the original building on East Main St. This statue still stands but was moved slightly in the 1960's due to demolition of old buildings and slight reorienting of the streets in and around this intersetion. The current location of the statue therefore cannot be used as an exact reference point for location of the now demolished older buildings. Hopefully the links will work.


    Link showing the original building of WG Swarts, then called Miller, Rhoads, & Swartz.
    http://www.forensicgenealogy.info/images/city_high_res_miller_rhodes_swartz.jpg

    Link to a 1940's era photograph showing a small street level section of the main building located at Bank & Plume Sts., Norfolk, VA. By that time the store was called WG Swartz Co.

    http://www.npl.lib.va.us/images/1997/xmas97.gif

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  11. Miller and Rhoads was by far larger and more upscale than Thalhimers. Thalhimers was similar to Macy's and Miller Rhoads was more like Lord & Taylor / Nordstrom

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  12. Awww - I love finding your blog of a bit of history on M & R - I just listed a hat box - it's so cool. I remember the Roanoke Store well - it had a wonderful escalator that went up to the Tea Room that looked over the store. It was so exciting to sit and dine while looking over at the pretty store. The building was open years ago, they tried to put in misc shops. I'm not sure if still occupied by something or not. It's at least standing. Check out my cool hat box, https://www.etsy.com/listing/126994738/vintage-1960s-womens-pinstripe-hat-box?ref=af_shop_favitem

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  13. Nicely done. I don't know the answer to which downtown store was larger, though Miller & Rhoads had one more selling floor, Thalhimers always looked a little bigger because they had modernized their decor more drastically than M&R ever did. Retaining the old wood on the main floor was wonderful, but I believe it made M&R appear a little less open.

    Incidentally, the telephone exchange for M&R was MIlton, not MIdlothian.

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  14. Miller & Rhoads telephone exchange was indeed MI for Milton, not Midlothian. The store building sat at 501, but the official street address used in correspondence during the 1950's, 60's and 70's was 517 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23217. Miller & Rhoads was the larger than Thalhimers, both in height and sales area. Both had several underground floors. The first underground floor was used for "Bargain Basement" merchandise and other sub floors were used for merchandise movement and delivery truck preparation.

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  15. According to newspapers available on the internet, Miller & Rhoads of Richmond operated a division in Norfolk, VA beginning in 1896. Linton Miller, Webster Rhoads, and William Grant Swartz were partners. Mr. Swartz was the resident partner for Norfolk. The Norfolk store first traded as Miller, Rhoads, & Company and from about 1905 as Miller, Rhoads, & Swartz. Mr. Swartz acquired the Norfolk store from Miller & Rhoads in 1927 and at that time the name changed to W. G. Swartz Co., Inc. Mr. Swartz died in 1935. Initially located on Main near Granby Streets in downtown Norfolk, the store opened at a new location on Nov. 15, 1900 on East Main Street at Commercial Place opposite the Confederate Monument(presently 418 East Main St). A major addition in 1907 gave the store frontage on Bank and Plume Streets. A branch store was opened in the 1950's at Southern Shopping Center in Norfolk. Swartz closed it's Bank & Plume store in 1964 and in 1965 the firm was acquired by Miller & Rhoads. At the time of the acquisition John A. Watts, III was head of Swartz.

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  16. Thank you for sharing that information - It looks like the result of good, scholarly research and I am sure will interest many people.
    - Bruce

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  17. Hi, my husband's family is connected to the Miller & Rhoads family. We are going to be in Virginia soon, and had heard there might be a display or part of a museum exhibit about M&R in Richmond. Can anyone verify if something like this exists? Thanks so much.

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  18. I am not certain, but perhaps it is in the original Miller & Rhoads building, now a hotel.
    -Bruce

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  19. Thalhimers had 6 floors, as the top floor was offices. My mother worked there.

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  20. I have a child's booster seat from the tea room. Any suggestions of what to do with it. It is wooden.

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  21. This is probably a little late for the person who wondered about the M&R exhibit, but it's at the Valentine Museum, which is a museum of Richmond's history. The M&R building is still very much there, but as it's condo/apartments/hotel, there isn't a whole lot on display. Original signage is preserved on the Broad street front.

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  22. I remember as a child going with my mom on Saturday and waiting for the doors to open. What a rush that was to be first in the store. That was 60 years ago - wow time sure flies. I loved the downtown stores of Miller and Rhoads and Thalhimers especially at Christmas. I remember when Santa called me by name and I was so awed. I rode the Santa train for lunch and that was great too. Saw several back to school fashion shows and wedding shows. Even got my dress from there. Those were the days and unfortunately for those young things, they will never know the wonder of downtown Richmond. I drove downtown along Main St. and then Grace several years ago and it broke my heart to see what had happened to the past. Guess one just keeps the good memories stored. I have a perfect condition tie box from M & R and a gold topped box from Thalhimers. Wonder what they would bring on Ebay or Etsy?

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  23. My first job was during the Christmas season of 1967 at M&R Book Dept.at the main store.
    I seem to remember that there was a MEN'S ONLY Oyster Bar on the Balcony Level. Does anyone else recall that lunch spot ? Thanks.

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  24. The Oyster Bar was at Thalhimers -- not M&R.

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  25. This blog is fantastic as are the comments/memories!

    I am curious if anyone happens to have any photos or remembers the menu from the Tea Room at the Richmond Miller & Rhoads' store? I am working on a project and would LOVE any and all information I could get. Thank you in advance!

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  26. After college in N.C. my first job in February, 1962 was joining Miller and Rhoads as a management trainee assigned to the cosmetic buying office. Jim Blackwell was such an influence in my retail career for he taught me inventory control and seizing a trend. Miller and Rhoads offered in house training including "The Management Development Program" and "The Nature of Management Program". I and others were sent to the University of Richmond for a "Principles of Merchandising" course, all of which I completed.

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  27. This training was unique opportunity for me and other going into management. I was able to become a department buyer very quickly and then promoted to other departments as sales increased. Miller and Rhoads had a Champion Club to recognize buyers and sales managers for making their plan sales each month.

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  28. Miller and Rhoads showed such loyalty to their employees, Both my mother and father died while working there. My merchandise manager in 1967, John Winsor and later in 1972, Bryan Phillips gave support that is of rare quality now. I can't forget Vice-President Gordon Mallonee. What memories of these caring people.

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  29. What an exciting time frame to be at Miller and Rhoads in the sixties and early seventies for branch stores were opening and department store retail was at its best. Due to my husband's job I moved from Richmond and Miller and Rhoads in late 1974. What a wonderful job at the beautiful Miller and Rhoads, 517 East Broad St. Richmond, Virginia 23217

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  30. Has the date been set for Tea with Santa for 2015?

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  31. The W. G. Swartz branch store at Southern Shopping Center in Norfolk, VA may have opened in the early 1960's, just a few years prior to the chain rejoining Miller & Rhoads. I'm not really sure.

    I'm surprised there is so little information about the Norfolk division of Miller & Rhoads, known as Miller, Rhoads & Company and later as Miller, Rhoads & Swartz. By Norfolk standards the store was considered large, especially after the 1907 expansion. I've seen early advertising that stressed the low prices due to the buying power of Miller & Rhoads having a store each in Richmond, Norfolk, and Lynchburg.

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  32. The Norfolk division of Miller & Rhoads recently made news in Jan., 2015. There's a building located at 112 West Wilson Ave, Norfolk, VA that was originally built as a horse stable for Miller, Rhoads & Swartz. After renovations, the building will become the new home of the Hurrah Players. There's a news story about the building at the WVEC website.

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  33. The Norfolk store opened Feb. 26, 1896.

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  34. According to a newspaper article from Dec., 1989 in the Virginian-Pilot, the Miller & Rhoads store at Southern Shopping Center, formerly a W. G. Swartz Co. store, was a 30,000 square foot store. Miller & Rhoads is suppose to have closed the store Oct., 1989.

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  35. The address of the first location of the Norfolk store was 198-202 Main St. The modern address would be near the corner of E. Main St. and Martin's Ln. Miller, Rhoads & Company was at this location from 1896-1900.

    The second location which the store occupied from 1900-1964 was Main at Commercial Place or 418-422 E. Main St. The Annex opened in 1907 and was located at Bank & Plume Sts. or 407-419 E. Plume St. All buildings have been demolished.


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  36. I just acquired the original sleigh that was used in the Richmond department store at Christmas time. It is black and white and still in nice condition. I like to sell this to someone who would appreciate it for what it is.

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  37. To the person looking for a tea room menu, I have copies of the Tea Room menu and also have sets of the Dogwood patterned dishes by Syracuse China that were used in the Tea Room. I am Milton Burke's son and as such I have lots of M & R stuff.

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  38. Penn:
    Thanks - If you have anything I could use on this Museum site, and could scan it, I would love to have better pictures of all the branch stores and maybe store interiors - that would be fantastic. I do have access to the Richmond newspapers online, so that's where I get most of the information I post. If you could help spread M&R's history, please contact me at bakgraphics@conmcast.net
    THank you, Penn

    -Bruce

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  39. I have a gorgeous porcelain sink with gold-leaf, mirror images of swans. I bought it several years ago & the antique dealer said it was from the downtown M & R executive restroom! I have no way of knowing for sure. Can anyone verify this? It is in nearly mint condition.

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  40. Recently, I moved into M&R on the 7th floor and really love living here. My apartment has a continuous wall of windows near the corner of 6th & Grace with a wonderful unobstructed view of the financial district and Lee Bridge. I know it was originally part of the executive offices, so I am wondering if anyone has any photos of the 7th floor from the past. Our family moved to Richmond in 1966, so I remember coming to M&R as a boy, shopping here for 24 years and having one last lunch with my mom in the Tearoom just before M&R closed in 1990. It's great to be back and the renovation is phenomenal!

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  41. I was surprised to learn that the downtown Norfolk store was not on Granby St, as were most of the old department stores. I remember the store at Southern Shopping Center, particularly because it was in the parking lot and not a part of the "strip". It was pretty dangerous to cross from the west-facing entrance to get to the main shopping center!

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  42. My parents used to shop the downtown store and take my older brother to see Santa Claus. Swartz sent postcards to announce Santa's arrival.

    At the downtown store, my mother recalls a bridge which connected the older building, which faced East Main to the newer building on Plume. It's a feature nobody seems to remember. I've looked at old maps and there was indeed a small street, actually an alley, which cut between the two buildings. That alley was Hill St.

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  43. If you shopped the downtown Norfolk stores from the 1950's to 1980's it was not unheard of to run into clerks who had started their careers at one store and ended up retiring at another. One woman we knew started her career at Swartz. After Swartz closed Bank & Plume store, she went over to Ames & Brownley on Granby and stayed there until that store went out of business. After Ames & Brownley she crossed the street and went to work for Rice's, then Rice's-Nachman's. She stayed at Rice's-Nachman's until retirement, which was just prior to the Hess buyout and closing of the downtown store. Wish I could remember her name. There were other women who had similar resumes It used to impress me how the stores seemed to court these older sales ladies. They were not like the sales women of today. They knew how to sell and were eager to help select and match goods if they felt you needed help.

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  44. Miller & Rhoads was Richmond's finest department store when my family took up residence in an Episcopal rectory on West Ave. in the Fan. They had great French Silk Pie (wish I had that recipe), and their men's store on the first floor was great. Their employees were always polite and helpful throughout the store. We enjoyed many memorable lunches in the Tea Room. Teenagers were safe walking to downtown Richmond back in the early 1960's.

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