Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: February/March 2002
The C.O. Miller Company
Appended May 2008
In our November 2001 Selection, we promised
a feature on the C.O. Miller Company, the downtown department store.
At the time, we thought of showing pictures we have of the outside
of the store, as well as items from the Vertical
File collection. But
then, this writer stumbled across the invaluable Guide
to Nature Magazine, and sure enough, there is an article
in the November 1917 issue, on the occasion of the 50th business anniversary,
with plenty of interior photos, and the usual inimitable text!
Thus, this feature is a combination of items
we have in our archives.
The store was a fixture in Stamford for
106 years. It was founded in 1868. The store was originally located at 53 Main
Street. The next location was at Washington Place by September 1870.
in 1882, a new store was built on Atlantic Square, 53 Atlantic, as seen on the
right. Attached is a photocopy of the architectural rendering for the store. Major additions and changes to the store were made in 1916, as described in the Guide to Nature article below.
store moved to 15 Bank Street in 1933, where it remained until its closing
in 1973. A newspaper article in the Advocate
reports that this was caused by the fact that its adjoining warehouse had to
make way for construction of the Bell Street Garage during the downtown urban
renewal process.* At that time, C.O. Miller was no longer a family business,
but was owned by Supermarkets General Corp. of Woodbridge, NJ and named "The
C.O. Miller clearance department store," so declining business may have
been the real cause for the closing. Earlier, the name had been changed to "Howland,"
part of Genungs's Incorporated, a section of the above Supermarkets General
Corp., according to a Stamford Advocate article dated
September 14, 1970. A sad end for a once great store!
*Addendum May 2008: Google Maps Satellite photos show that the entire structure is still there. See also The C.O. Miller Department Store at 15 Bank Street.
Society member Lester Sharlach, a
Stamford native, tells us that one of the impressive features of the Bank Street
Store which he remembers, was a pneumatic tube system, by which the cash from
the individual registers was moved upstairs to a central cashier's location.
They seem to have been innovative early on, as they had an overhead Lamson Electric
cash system with drop stations already by 1916. (see below)
Any Stamfordite who has recollections,
stories and/or is willing to donate or loan photos about the C.O. Miller Store,
is encouraged to contact The Stamford Historical Society, either by mail (1508
High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06903), fax (203-322-1607), or e-mail to the webmaster firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will gladly scan or otherwise reproduce any photos loaned to us.
Now back to the olden days. Here are some of the
Once established, their ad dominated
the cover of the Stamford City Directories for many years, such as the
one in 1900 below left.
||While we do not have any images
of the first two store locations, there are plenty of the store on Atlantic
It was tough to make a selection, so here a
the most interesting ones. Note the progressive addition of buildings
on Atlantic Street towards the south.
1885, store building at far right
Picturesque Stamford 1892: C.O. Miller
1913. Section of the Town Hall and the Citizens
Savings Bank at right
1920s. Town Hall and Corner of Main Street at
For more on the Atlantic Square
store, see these entertaining features below from Guide to Nature Magazine.
Philosophy and Photographs in a Store. 1912.
The Development of a Big Store.1916.
Completing Fifty Years in Business,. 1917.
Remarkable Half Century Success of Mr. C. O. Miller as Evinced in the
and Present Prominence of The Miller Store.”
(By the editor himself,
Though “hale and hearty at threescore years and ten” in
1917, Mr. Miller passed away in 1919.
Of the Bank Street store, we have
two aerial views from about 1948, photographed by Senix Aerial of White
In the background: Atlantic
Street with St. John's Roman Catholic Church.
At left: Main Street,
with Stamford Savings Bank. The Little Red Bank, and the Old Town
Hall towards the top of the photo.
… and of a later date, most likely in the 1960s,
another photo taken from Bank Street
Note, May 2004: The date, originally assumed to be of the 1950s, has been narrowed down by Kit Foster of the Society of Automotive Historians. He writes: “In the photo at the bottom of your January 2002 page is a 1963
Mercury Colony Park station wagon, so the picture cannot be earlier than
October 1962. The Volkswagen, of course, is timeless…”
Images © Stamford Historical Society
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