One by one, in the mid-1960s, department stores like Penney’s, Sears-Roebuck, and Montgomery Ward were leaving the deteriorating, poor parking area of downtown Lima for the great outdoors in new malls and centers. suburban shopping, and Thomas Gregg was determined to do something about it.
To that end, Gregg, president of Gregg’s department store in the 200 block of North Main Street, announced that his company had purchased the four-story Holmes building, which faced his store on the west side of the street, and planned to raze it and convert the area into a parking lot for 75 cars. This move, he told the News in November 1964, “serves a dual purpose: it helps rid the city of marginal or non-productive buildings and it will provide additional parking in downtown Lima.”
The following April, the 80-year-old Holmes Building was barricaded, windowless and surrounded by security fences, awaiting the wrecking ball. The only sign remaining on the front of the building read “Lord’s”, the building’s last major tenant, which closed last December.
The men’s clothing store had opened in a busy city center in 1949, replacing the Kibler men’s clothing store as the main tenant of the Holmes building. Kibler had moved into the block around 1933 from a nearby location he had occupied since around 1930.
Prior to Kibler, the Holmes building housed the Ladies’ Apparel Shop, which featured “Matron and Miss clothes,” the Boston Store, the Neisner Brothers Five and Ten Cent Store, Rubin’s, Keltner’s Drug Store, and the Beverly Shop, among others. Much like the malls of the mid-1960s, the Holmes Block attracted shops and offices when it opened in the mid-1880s.
Lord’s men’s wear was founded by seasoned retailers Frank Cartin and Isadore Cheslow.
“Frank Cartin and I. Cheslow are the owners of Lord’s, a new men’s clothing store located at 229 N. Main St.,” the Lima News reported on April 2, 1949. “Cartin was previously associated with the boutique Linda Jayne and Cheslow with Kibler is there.
Cheslow brought William Koon, who had worked with him at Kibler’s store, to the new store.
“Cheslow, originally from Lima, has been in the men’s clothing business here for 20 years and oversaw a chain of men’s stores for two years,” the News wrote in March 1949. “Cartin was a resident of Lima and in the retail business here for the past ten years.
While Cartin, a native of Toledo, was a relatively recent arrival in Lima, Cheslow and Koon had deep roots in the region.
Cheslow, of Polish Jewish parents, was born in Paris in 1911 and arrived in the United States the same year. In 1914, his father, Samuel, had moved the family to Lima. From around 1917 Samuel Cheslow operated a women’s clothing store and later a fur store. An August 1920 News ad noted that Samuel Cheslow & Company, of 219 W. High St., offered “a full line of Hudson seal coats with genuine skunk collar and cuffs.”
Before starting his career in retail, Isadore Cheslow graduated from Central High School and served in Company G, 148th Infantry of Lima in the late 1920s. He married former Gertrude Singer. Cheslow and his wife, as well as Cartin and his wife, former Helen Levitz, were active in the Jewish community in Lima.
Koon was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1929, but arrived in the Lima area at a very young age. He was the son of George and Erma Koon, who in the mid-1940s operated the Willow Inn, which consisted of a restaurant and tourist cabins on the 4500 block of the South Dixie Highway. Erma Koon also operated a beauty salon in downtown Lima.
With the partnership in place, Cheslow and Cartin began discussing a name for the store. According to Koon’s son, also named William, Cartin argued for something short and inexpensive to display in neon. Cheslow, on the other hand, wanted to go with a stylized version of the partners’ names, like that of famous menswear retailer Lord & Taylor. In the end, they agreed on Lord’s.
An April 1949 advertisement in the News, shortly after Lord’s opened, proclaimed: Esteem the best.
In the spring of 1949, according to the advertisement, the “finest” suits could be bought at Lord’s for between $ 39.50 and $ 99.50, while hats were selling between $ 7.50 and $ 10, shirts between. $ 3.95 and $ 5.95 and ties between $ 1.50 and $ 5.
Cartin was left to run the store after ill health forced Cheslow to leave Lima in 1950. Cheslow died at the age of 44 in Van Nuys, Calif., In April 1955.
In September 1958, the Lima Citizen reported that “Lord’s Men’s Clothing store located at 229 N. Main St. is about to undergo some changes. The new owner, former employee William H. Koon, Route 3, says the planned changes will be announced later.
Koon, who had been an assistant manager since the store opened in 1949, bought it from Cartin on September 2, the newspaper wrote. Cartin died at the age of 67 in Tucson, Arizona, in October 1978.
“Now a 15-year veteran in the men’s clothing industry, Koon worked at Kiblers before moving to Lord’s,” the Citizen noted, adding that Koon was married to former Vivian Brown and the couple had a as a child, William H. Koon Jr.
Half a dozen years later, Gregg’s announced it was purchasing the Holmes Building, and Lord’s announced its closure. Koon returned to farming in the Columbus Grove area, taking with him the name “Lord”. Today, young Koon operates Lord’s Enterprises near Columbus Grove, which is involved in various agricultural activities.
Gregg’s, after stubbornly clinging to downtown Lima, last closed in January 1986.
Lord’s Fine Men’s Wear opened at 229 N. Main St., Lima, in 1949. It remained there until it closed in 1964.
Contact Greg Hoersten at [email protected]