Thursday, April 30, 2009

On the Hill in Lawrence, Kansas

Many remember this site at West Indiana & 12th Street as the home of Yellow Sub, but from the '20s through the '50s it was one of Harzfeld's "boutique" stores. We're not sure of the status, but a new multi-use development is planned for the site.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fashion For A Cause

Fashion for a Cause is a fundraiser that directly benefits Truman Medical Centers’ (TMC) Women’s Health Programs. Funds raised from this year’s event will go toward TMC’s Peri-natal Diagnostics Center, which performs more than 5,000 screenings and ultrasounds annually. Find out more about this Sunday, April 26th event at

The event will take place at the historic Midland Theatre in downtown Kansas City, just a block south of the original location of the (Harzfeld's) Parisian Cloak Company.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Concrete and Paint

Harzfeld's Parisian found a new home on the southeast corner of main and Petticoat Lane in 1913. It was designed by architect John McKecknie, an early innovator in reinforced concrete construction. The Harzfeld's building facade, faced with glazed terra cotta details, was preserved as part of the Town Pavilion development in the mid '80s.

McKecknie was also a painter. The above 14" x 12" example captures a scene on Ward Parkway in 1924. It sold on ebay several years ago. We would love to see more examples of John's work, so let us know of any other examples.

John McKecknie Biography by Susan Jezak Ford from the Missouri Valley Special Collections in The Kansas City Public Library

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

KC area Fashion Blogs from ink

A nice distraction from our research of the past is seeing what's currently happening with local fashion. In the April 8 issue of ink, a tabloid under the KC Star umbrella, Sarah Benson shares five local fashion blogs/sites. We have a few more that we've found that we'll share in later posts.

Lovesick Clothing
kansas couture

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Review of Achelous and Hercules

Watch Peter Winant's review of Achelous and Hercules for WETA Public Television.

Signature of Thomas Hart Benton (right) on the painting commissioned by Harzfeld's completed in 1947.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fashion and Fascism

The horrific history of the Holocaust holds many lessons — and some of them might surprise you. Learn how fashion in Europe was influenced by the rise and fall of the 3rd Reich in Germany. The Walt Bodine Show on KCUR, 89.3 FM will look at the impact of mid-century fascism on the lives of European women. Walt will be joined by Dr. Irene Guenther, History Professor at Marquette University and author of Nazi Chic?: Fashioning Women in the Third Reich.

Dr. Guenther will also lecture at The National World War I Museum at 2 p.m., Thursday afternoon.

Listen to the Audio Archive

Also from Walt Bodine Show Audio Archive:
(Kansas City) Department Stores, Jan. 31, 2007

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fashionable Columbia

After a recent trip to the Columbia Public Library, we discovered Harzfeld's moved between three different locations in Columbia, Missouri. To the right is a current view of the site they inhabited on Broadway. This building now hosts Poppy, an amazing gallery/shop.

On March 14, Columbia was the site of the Model Citizen Fashion Show, an annual benenfit for the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Harzfeld's in Columbia, as well as Lawrence, Kansas, catered to fashion-conscious college women.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kansas City Garment Industry

In 2002, this "Oldenburgesque" sculpture was dedicated in honor of those involved with what was once the second largest garment industry in the U.S.

This industry is documented at the Kansas City Garment District Museum, located less then one block east of the sculpture on Broadway and West 8th Street. Ann Brownfield, director of the museum, is dedicated and enthusiastic. We greatly appreciate her assistance with our research.

Nelly Don, a garment manufacturer in Kansas City, is documented in a film and a book, both entitled Nelly Don: A Stitch in Time, by Terrence O'Malley. A must see and read, this dramatic story of one of the first and most successful self-made women millionaires in American business is told with interviews, vintage illustrations and photos. Mr. O'Malley has recently released a new film about the mob in Kansas City, Black Hand Strawman. It is currently showing to sold out audiences at Screenland. We hope to sneak in a showing this weekend.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Rosina Justina (Walz) McKay was a furrier for Harzfeld’s from at least 1930 until sometime before her early death in 1948.

The daughter of impoverished German immigrants, It was a major life change for her to go from living in poverty to selling furs to wealthy ladies at Harzfeld's.

She also did some comparison shopping for Harzfeld's, scoping out the competition's merchandise and prices, and when she saw something of good quality at a good price, she would snap it up. She never had children of her own, but her nieces were always well-dressed when they were girls, despite the Depression and the World War II war years.

She had a polar bear rug on the floor of her living room, a great draw for all the nieces and nephews when they came to visit. Her husband, a butcher, as family legend recounts, had a sitting room of his own in the basement for when Rosina found him not clean enough to come upstairs in her house.

We thank JoLynne, Rosina's great niece, who sent us her photo and information.

Harzfeld's, A Brief History

We're excited to be working with The History Press to publish a book on Harzfeld's. We'll provide you with more details over the next several months.

The History Press has designed and published titles on a variety of subjects from many regions. They recently published a wonderful book called Under the Clock: The Story of Miller and Rhoads by Earle Dunford & George Bryson. Miller and Rhoads was a Virginia-based store chain. In 1972, Harzfeld's was sold and fell under the same umbrella of Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc.

Benton Postcard

One of our favorite pieces of ephemera from the store is this oversized postcard featuring Thomas Hart Benton's Achelous and Hercules. The mural was commissioned by Lester Siegel Sr., President of Harzfeld's. It was completed and installed above the elevators in the Petticoat Lane store in 1947. 

The postcard is 9" x 3.5", while the actual mural is just over 22 x 5 feet tall. 

The mural now hangs at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.

A special welcome to the Friends of the Benton Home, a non-profit organization that helps promote the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Hisoric Site, in Kansas City, MO.