Reminisce: Lord’s place in bustling downtown Lima


By Greg Hoersten - For The Lima News



Lord’s Fine Men’s Wear opened at 229 N. Main St., Lima, in 1949. It remained there until it went out of business in 1964.

Lord’s Fine Men’s Wear opened at 229 N. Main St., Lima, in 1949. It remained there until it went out of business in 1964.


SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

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See past Reminisce stories at limaohio.com/tag/reminisce

One by one in the mid-1960s, the big department stores like Penney’s, Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward were leaving Lima’s deteriorating, parking-poor downtown for the wide-open spaces of the new suburban malls and shopping centers, 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 his company had purchased the four-story Holmes Building, which faced his store from the west side of the street, and planned to raze it and convert the area into a 75-car parking lot. The move, he told the News in November 1964, “serves a two-fold 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 stood boarded up, bereft of window glass, and surrounded by safety fencing, waiting on the wrecking ball. The lone remaining sign on the front of the building read “Lord’s,” the building’s last major tenant, which had closed the previous December.

The men’s wear store had opened in a bustling downtown in 1949, replacing the Kibler men’s wear store as the major tenant in the Holmes Building. Kibler had moved into the block around 1933 from a nearby location it had occupied since about 1930.

Before Kibler, the Holmes building had housed the Ladies’ Apparel Shop, which touted “clothes for matron and miss,” the Boston Store, Neisner Brothers Five and Ten Cent Store, Rubin’s, Keltner’s Drug Store and the Beverly Shop, among others. Much like the malls in the mid-1960s, the Holmes block was a magnet for shops and offices when it opened in the mid-1880s.

Lord’s men’s wear was founded by veteran retailers Frank Cartin and Isadore Cheslow.

“Frank Cartin and I. Cheslow are the owners of Lord’s, a new men’s wear store located at 229 N. Main St.,” The Lima News announced April 2, 1949. “Cartin was associated formerly with the Linda Jayne shop and Cheslow with Kibler’s here.”

Cheslow brought William Koon, who had worked with him at the Kibler store, over to the new shop.

“Cheslow, a native of Lima, has been in the men’s clothing business here for 20 years and supervised a chain of men’s stores for two years,” the News wrote in March 1949. “Cartin has been a Lima resident and in retail business here the last ten years.”

While Cartin, who was a native of Toledo, was a relatively recent arrival to Lima, both Cheslow and Koon had deep roots in the area.

Cheslow, whose parents were Polish Jews, was born in Paris in 1911 and arrived in the United States the same year. By 1914, his father, Samuel, had settled the family in Lima. Beginning about 1917, Samuel Cheslow operated a ladies’ apparel shop and, later, ran a fur shop. A News ad from August 1920 noted that Samuel Cheslow & Company, of 219 W. High St., carried “a full line of Hudson seal coats trimmed in genuine skunk collar and cuffs.”

Before beginning 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 the former Gertrude Singer. Both Cheslow and his wife and Cartin and his wife, the former Helen Levitz, were active in Lima’s Jewish community.

Koon was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1929, but came to the Lima area at a young age. He was the son of George and Erma Koon, who in the mid-1940s operated the Willow Inn, comprised of a restaurant and tourist cabins in the 4500 block of South Dixie Highway. Erma Koon also operated a beauty shop in downtown Lima.

With the partnership in place, Cheslow and Cartin began dickering over a name for the shop. 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 men’s wear retailer Lord & Taylor. In the end, they agreed on Lord’s.

An April 1949 ad in the News, shortly after Lord’s opened, proclaimed: “Like the signature of a fine artist, the name Lord’s has been affixed to new and strikingly different masterpieces of the tailor’s art … proudly exclusive styles, eagerly sought by men who esteem the finest.”

In the spring of 1949, according to the ad, the “finest” suits could be bought at Lord’s for anywhere from $39.50 to $99.50, while hats went for $7.50 to $10, shirts from $3.95 to $5.95, and ties for $1.50 to $5.

Cartin was left to operate the store after ill health forced Cheslow to leave Lima in 1950. Cheslow died at the age of 44 in Van Nuys, California, in April 1955.

In September 1958, the Lima Citizen reported that “Lord’s Men’s Clothing store, 229 N. Main St. is in line for some changes. The new proprietor, former employee William H. Koon, Route 3, says planned changes will be announced later.”

Koon, who had been assistant manager since the store opened in 1949, had purchased it from Cartin effective Sept. 2, the newspaper wrote. Cartin died at the age of 67 in Tucson, Arizona, in October 1978.

“Now a veteran of 15 years in the men’s clothing business, Koon worked at Kiblers before going to Lord’s,” the Citizen noted, adding that Koon was married to the former Vivian Brown and the couple had one child, William H. Koon Jr.

A half dozen years later, Gregg’s announced it was purchasing the Holmes Building, and Lord’s announced it was closing. Koon returned to farming in the Columbus Grove area, taking the “Lord’s” name with him. Today, the younger Koon operates Lord’s Enterprises near Columbus Grove, which is involved in various agricultural pursuits.

Gregg’s, after doggedly hanging on in downtown Lima, closed its doors for the last time in January 1986.

Lord’s Fine Men’s Wear opened at 229 N. Main St., Lima, in 1949. It remained there until it went out of business in 1964.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/11/web1_Lords-Original.jpgLord’s Fine Men’s Wear opened at 229 N. Main St., Lima, in 1949. It remained there until it went out of business in 1964.

By Greg Hoersten

For The Lima News

SOURCE

This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.

LEARN MORE

See past Reminisce stories at limaohio.com/tag/reminisce

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

Reach Greg Hoersten at info@limanews.com.

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