Chronology: Baltimore’s Downtown Department Stores Part 4

Posted on May 20th, 2019 by

Compiled by K. Meghan Gross, former JMM curatorial assistant. Originally published in Generations – Winter 2001.

1956: Hecht’s opens a branch department store opposite the Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

The Hecht Company, feeling the need to expand its operation west of the city, built a large facility directly across from the already successful Edmonson Village Shopping Center. The parking area was built to accommodate 1,000 cars, and like its Northwood location, it was built as a “complete” store, with all departments represented. That same year Hutzler’s and Hochschild Kohn both open branches in Eastpoint.

1958: Hutzler’s opens in Westview.

Choosing a location father west than Hochschild Kohn and Hecht’s, Hutzler’s opened its second Baltimore branch location at Westview, which served as an anchor for the Westview Shopping Center. The department store and shopping center were situated at the junction of the newly opened (but not yet complete) Baltimore Beltway (I-695) and Route 40.

1959: Hochschild Kohn and Co. integrates its sales force.

Walter Sondheim, Jr. promotes stock clerk Mamie Collins to salesperson in the glove department.

1959: Hecht’s and the May Co. merge, closing The Hub store at Baltimore and Charles.

The Hecht Company made its appearance at the corner of Howard and Lexington Streets in 1959 when it merged with the May Company, which had occupied that corner since it bought Bernheimer-Leader in 1927. The store was then known as Hecht-May, and later, the Hecht Company. Hecht’s continued to operate its stores under its name at Baltimore and Pine Streets and at Howard and Franklin Streets, as well as its suburban stores in Northwood and Edmondson Village.

1959: Gutman’s and Brager’s merge.

Julius Gutman & Co. and Brager’s (formerly Brager-Eisenberg) shared the position of the “popular-price department store” until they merged in 1959. Brager’s vacated its location at Eutaw and Saratoga Streets to move into the Gutman location at Park and Lexington Street. Hochschild Kohn and Company then bought the former Brager building and moved its bargain shop there. Brager-Gutman’s, as it was called, continued to serve the bargain customer until it closed in 1984.

1960: Baltimore department stores integrate their lunch counters.

Responding to pressure from local college students at Morgan State University who protested department store segregation at Hecht’s Northwood branch and elsewhere, the department store managers made a joint decision to serve African Americans at lunch counters and provide equal credit and return policies.

1960: Hecht’s spends millions of dollars to renovate its Howard and Lexington Street store.

Hecht’s also expands its suburban store in Northwood.

1965: Hutzler’s Southdale opens.

The opening of Hutzler’s at the Southdale Shopping Center completed its chain of stores around the city. The shopping center was located at the intersection of Ritchie Highway and Mountain Road in Anne Arundel County. Hutzler’s also expanded its Eastpoint branch.

1968: Hochschild Kohn and Co. opens a new branch in the York Mall, York, PA.

The same year, the Hecht Company opened the largest complete department store on the Eastern Shore, located in the Salisbury Mall.

1977: Hochschild Kohn closes its downtown store.

Hochschild Kohn continued to expand its suburban stores, opening new branches in areas around the city. Despite growth in its suburban business, the downtown store gave way to economic difficulties caused by a declining urban population. In 1983, the former Hochschild Kohn building at Howard and Lexington was destroyed by fire.

1984: Downtown Hutzler’s moves to Atrium at Market Center.

Baltimore’s urban life declined in the late 1970s through the 1980s, causing many long-standing establishments to leave the former retail hub at Howard and Lexington Streets. Hutzler’s remained in the area but moved their operation to the Atrium at Market Center in 1984, only to reopen the Palace building in 1985. Hutzler’s then closed its downtown locations in 1989, making its Towson branch the flagship store. The Towson store and other branch locations closed in 1990.

1989: Hecht’s closes its downtown store.

The Hecht Company which still thrives today, remained at the corner of Howard and Lexington Streets until 1989. This company’s only surviving urban store is at Metro Center in Washington, DC. By 1993, Hecht’s was operating 45 stores in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia with a total of 74 stores on the East Coast.

1990: Hutzler’s closes all locations and goes out of business.

Many of the department store palaces still stand in Baltimore’s historic shopping district. Some are used as office space, while others have been adapted for residential property.

2001: The Jewish Museum of Maryland presents Enterprising Emporiums, an exhibition and catalog celebrating the history of the Jewish-owned department stores of downtown Baltimore.

~The End~

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JMM Insights: Recovery & Renewal

Posted on May 17th, 2019 by

This month’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Program Manager Trillion Attwood, as she shares a look at the development of our newest program series, Recovery & Renewal: The Immigration Experience. Missed any previous editions of JMM Insights? You can catch up here!

This Sunday, May 19th at 1:00 pm, we open a new series of programs in partnership with Baltimore Hebrew Congregation with generous support from the Lois Rosenfield Caring Fund of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

The series, titled Recovery & Renewal: The Immigration Experience, has been in development since 2018 and is inspired by our current exhibit Stitching History from the Holocaust. This exhibit, on loan from the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, explores the attempts made by one woman and her husband to escape from Nazi persecution and find refuge in America. The exhibit reminds viewers that the staggering loss of life during the Holocaust denied the world not merely of millions of human beings, but of the potential achievements of those individuals—whether artistic, scientific, political, philosophical, or otherwise.

At the JMM we use programming to add to the conversations that are started within our exhibits. In the case of Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini we decided to explore in greater detail subjects such as Houdini’s wife Bess, his time in Hollywood, and his place in Vaudeville history.

As we began to think about programing to accompany Stitching History from the Holocaust, and the national debate surrounding immigration was increasingly noisy, impassioned, and complicated, we saw an opportunity. We decided to use our programming to not just explore the past, but also explore how the lessons that were learned (or at least should have been learned) during the Holocaust– apply to our current situation.

Much of the current political rhetoric around immigration mirrors that of the 1930s and 1940s. For example, the way in which individuals’ religion was perceived to be indicative of their potential negative impact upon society, or the way in which individuals, regardless of religion, were denied access to safe havens despite facing intolerable and dangerous conditions in their homes.

As we explored our options in this vein, we learned that Baltimore Hebrew Congregation was also looking to explore similar themes. This led to a collaboration and the development of this series. Both the Museum and Baltimore Hebrew wanted a series that was easily accessible and would explore both the history of the Holocaust and contemporary stories of immigration.

We hope this series will encourage greater understanding and empathy for those who are trying to enter our country today, while dispelling some of the myths and misinformation within some political rhetoric. By encouraging visitors to act now, we hope to avoid future generations having to ask the same questions: What could have been? What achievements were lost?

The generous funding provided by the Lois Rosenfield Caring Fund to support this series means we are able to offer additional features for the series’ programs. All the presentations will be followed by a light reception, during which we will continue to discuss the themes explored within the presentations. We will take time to really reflect upon what we have heard and think about how we might best be able to apply the lessons learned to the current immigration situation and our own lives.

Additionally, a free bus will be offered from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation to the JMM for all programs — you don’t have to worry about finding parking downtown. This bus is available for anyone attending the programs, not just Baltimore Hebrew Congregation members!

This is certain to be an excellent, thought provoking, and inspiring series. Please join us for one or more of the upcoming programs – I would especially encourage you to try to attend one from each era of immigration explored.

You can find a full list of the programs in this series which are taking place both at the JMM and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation here.

Above images of immigration selected from the collections of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.


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Creating A Unique Field Trip About the Jonestown Neighborhood

Posted on May 16th, 2019 by

This post was written by JMM School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Back in March, the JMM received an email from the Middle School Principal, Mr. Golon, at The Friends School of Baltimore. This email led to an exciting opportunity for the education team at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Mr. Golon was in the midst of planning a new experience for his 8th-grade students. Planning a 2-day “deep dive” field trip into the students’ home city, he was looking for experiences that would encourage his students to think about the different narratives represented in Baltimore. Requests like these energize our education team. We love the opportunity to tailor a program to the learning goals of educators and create meaningful experiences for students.

This request gave us an opportunity to explore our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit programs in a new light. Our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit is an immersive experience that acts as a platform for students to be introduced to the immigrant community living in the neighborhood around the Museum known as Jonestown. Through a melody of immigrant’s voices, students explore what life was like in tenement houses, the working conditions in sweatshops, and the hustle and bustle of Lombard Street. This scavenger hunt activity focuses on the first half of the exhibit, from the 1880s to about the 1920s.

The Friends School of Baltimore students’ visit empowered JMM staff to explore a new perspective of the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, thinking about the Jonestown neighborhood.

For the Friends School of Baltimore’s visit, we wanted to explore the relationship of the different cultural and religious communities that made this neighborhood home and what students could learn from the neighborhood’s history. Mr. Golon wanted students to consider two questions:

>What do the historical narratives of African-American and immigrant communities in Baltimore teach us about where our city has been and where it is going?

>What are some of the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in the Jonestown neighborhood of our city?

We developed a scavenger hunt centered around these questions. One that would encourage students to consider the different nationalities of immigrants living in Jonestown, the relationship between African American community members and their neighbors, and why the Jonestown neighborhood needed multiple houses of worship. We also wanted students to look at how the neighborhood changed beginning in the 1930s. Using the quotes from residents present in the exhibit, students would consider how the community felt both when the Flag House Courts opened in 1955 and when it was eventually demolished; how the riots in 1968 impacted Lombard Street; and how the community worked (and is working) together to revitalize the area.

Students worked in pairs to complete the new version of our Voices of Lombard Street scavenger hunt that explored the changing history of the Jonestown neighborhood.

We wanted students to step out of the exhibit and into the neighborhood itself. While on a neighborhood walking tour, students would learn about the history of Jonestown. Walking down Lloyd Street, students would be able to compare the past and present. Peering down East Baltimore, students would see the McKim Center, the original Friends Meeting House, the Phoenix Shot Tower, and both the existing and future Helping Up Mission buildings. Stopping in front of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel Synagogue students would learn about the Jewish community that made Jonestown home. They would also see the vacant lot where Smelkinson’s, a kosher dairy, resided before it was burned down during the riots of 1968.

The walking tour around the neighborhood encouraged students to see how the urban landscape of Jonestown has evolved and is still evolving.

The neighborhood walking tour would encourage students to gain a better sense of place and make connections between the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and the community that exists today. Students were asked to think about the opportunities that exist for Jonestown and what role the residents and businesses can play.

Students also shared their learning with each other and considered challenges, strengths, and opportunities found in Jonestown.

Mr. Golon first reached out to the JMM in March and in May we were delighted to be one part of their two-day field trip. This JMM experience, designed specifically with a “deep dive” into the Baltimore community in mind, culminated in asking the students, “What do you think it means to be part of a neighborhood?” Here is a selection of their responses:

>To be connected, and that each neighborhood has its own culture

>It means to be part of a community, to be together as a whole, working through things.

>Be a good citizen, speak up

>Forms community, everyone can feel safe, communicate

>A place where people live and houses stories

>It brings people together and gives them a sense of home

>It means to be a family and to live in history

>Help others, to contribute

>Open, inclusive and committed, sharing



The Friends School of Baltimore was piloting a new year-end field trip for their 8th-grade students, and that opportunity gave the education team at the JMM to the ability to try something new as well. Thank you to Mr. Golon and The Friends School of Baltimore for letting us support your students as they explored their city and the communities, both past and present, that make it unique.

8th grade students exploring Baltimore in May. 

Their visit also included: Homewood Friends Meeting House, Blue Water Baltimore, Friends of Patterson Park, Patterson Lanes, Baltimore City Council, Baltimore Inspector General’s Office, Mayor’s Office of Sustainable Solutions, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and McKim Center. We were proud to be a part of this group of organizations supporting their learning.

Have an idea for a field trip? We are happy to tailor our programs to your classroom learning. Please contact Paige Woodhouse, School Program Coordinator, at or 443-873-5167 to start building a great experience for your students.


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