Tuesday, March 31, 2009
209 Jefferson Ave.
The first Woolworth's store was founded with a loan of $300, in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth. Frank W. Woolworth was born on April 13, 1852, on a farm near Rodman in Jefferson County, New York. In 1875 a “99-cent store” opened in Watertown, and a merchant there decided to try the idea in Port Huron, Michigan. He took Woolworth along as a clerk and paid him a starting wage of $10 a week. When Woolworth proved to be a poor salesman, his salary was cut to $8.50 a week. He soon took ill, suffering a breakdown, and returned to Watertown. Back in Watertown, he met a waitress, Jennie Creighton, and married her in 1876. They had three daughters. One of Woolworth’s granddaughters was Barbara Hutton, a socialite who achieved notoriety for her many marriages.
1889/90 New York Directory
In 1886 Woolworth moved to a newly built house on 209 Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, to be near wholesale suppliers. Taking advantage of the wide variety of goods available there, he assumed responsibility for purchasing merchandise for all of his stores. He added candy and was able to purchase it directly from the manufacturers. He also planned all of the window and counter displays for the chain. An admirer of the red color of A&P grocery stores, he designed the characteristic red store fronts for the Woolworth stores, adding the company name in gold letters.Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th century, increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s. In 1997, F. W. Woolworth Company converted itself into a sporting goods retailer, closing its remaining retail stores operating under the "Woolworth's" brand name and renaming itself Venator Group. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market, changing its name to the present Foot Locker Inc.
209 Jefferson Avenue is a beautiful Neo-Grec brownstone that was built in 1886. The interior of this home has been changed a bit but many details from F.W. Woolworth time are still present. This home still has the beautiful herringbone floors and to my surprise a rather larger extension on the rear. A few houses on this row still have the original single storm protective door followed by the large double entry doors. This rather large row of identical Neo-Grec brownstones are rather nicely preserved on a beautiful treeline block that is not landmarked. Hopefully soon this house will be apart of the Bedford Historic District.Frank W. Woolworth