The Age of the Downtown Department Store

July 24, 2012 46 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Before shopping malls took over the Jacksonville region, downtown's streets were once lined with grand department stores. In honor of the upcoming 100 year anniversary of the Cohen Brother's St. James Building (now city hall), and with our second book currently in production, Metro Jacksonville takes a look at a few retailing landmarks from yesteryear and encourages our readers to share their memories of a retail era gone bye.


JCPenney, F.W. Woolworth Company and the Robert Meyer Hotel. Photo courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,

Still around today, JCPenney was founded by James Cash Penney in Kemmerer, Wyoming in 1902.  Following the lead of Cohen Brothers, JCPenney moved into their new three story 90,000 square foot department store facing Hemming Park in May 1955 at 320 North Hogan Street.  JCPenney shared its building with a 16,350 square foot F.W. Woolworth's, which opened in March 1955.  The stores shared a common wall where one could literally walk from one to the other without going outside.  After years of struggling partially due to road closures associated with the conversion of Hemming Park to a Plaza, JCPenney closed their downtown Jacksonville store in December 1984.

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