LORD & TAYLOR MEETS RED ROCKS
June 04, 2010
Burlington, Vermont native Edward P Hatch bought NYC department store Lord & Taylor in 1879. He also owned the Lake Champlain estate, Red Rocks, that became one of Burlington's most beautiful and popular public parks.
I've been writing and posting about Red Rocks this week, so a couple of days ago my daughter G and I decided to take a hike up the Red Rocks trail. It's not far from our house, and we've hiked it before - she many more times than I - but I never bothered to read the sign before:
Sign at Red Rocks Park, South Burlington, Vermont.
"Beginning in 1888, this large property was part of an annual summer retreat for the family of Edward Hatch, Jr. who managed the famed Lord & Taylor department store chain in the late 1800's. Mr Hatch took up residence for several summers in the former Hotel Vermont adjacent to City Hall Park in downtown Burlington. The City of South Burlington subsequently purchased the site with federal assistance from the Land And Water Conservation Fund in 1970."
Wait a minute!! Lord & Taylor??? I practically grew up in Lord & Taylor. It's was one of the oldest department stores in New York City when I was a girl in the 1950's. I'm sure I remember riding the rickety old wooden escalators to the upper floors of it's now landmarked building at 38th and 5th.
“The department store began in an era of a hub-and-spoke transportation system for cities, before the automobile,” Tedlow says. “In Chicago, for instance, the large downtown department store, Marshall Field’s, became in and of itself The Brand. And for a store like that in, say, 1870 or 1880, the competition was basically mom-and-pop shops. Department stores were a new mode of retailing. They became destinations—they became places where you shopped not solely for procurement but for entertainment." Adam Gopnik, Under One Roof, The New Yorker, Sept. 22, 2003
Lord & Taylor began as a dry goods store on Catherine Street (Manhattan's Lower East Side) in 1826. Subsequent moves brought it further and further north, to Broadway and Grand, then to Broadway and 20th Street, which became part of the "Ladies Mile" destination.
"The architect James H. Giles developed a five-story mansard-roofed scheme in cast iron that was widely praised. The building rises like an expanding crystal structure, an intricate pattern of crisply decorated blocks and spiky plant forms that seems to prefigure the William Morris patterns of the 1880's. The entire corner tower is angled, with a tall rectangular mansard pavilion on top, and the roof line still has much of its original, lacy cresting." Christopher Grey NY Times May 7, 1995
So, Lord & Taylor is in its new digs in the beautiful cast iron building when, in 1879, Eward Hatch, of Burlington Vermont, takes over the reins.
Edward P SEPT 21, 1909- Burlington VT, Edward P. Hatch, for many years President of the dry goods firm of Lord & Taylor, New York, died at the Van Ness Hotel in this city to-day from heart disease, at the age of 77. He had spent the Summer here for the last forty years. ....Edward P. Htch was born in Norwich, Vt. on July 11, 1832. He was the son of a village physician, Dr. Horace Hatch, whose own father had been one fo the pioneers of the town and had helped to clear the forest for his home with his own hands...When Edward Hatch was 15 years old he entered a store at a salary of $4 a month, one of his chief duties being the packing of wool [? wood?] Two years later he came to New York and entered the store of Robinson & Co. on Broadway as an entry clerk....[goes on to work for Wilcox and Gibbs sewing machines, makes a forturne, retires and...] In 1879 however, the opportunity came of reorganizing and carrying on the affairs of the house of Lord & Taylor, and Mr. Hatch, as the head of the reorganized firm, entered the world of business again. Being impressed with the commercial value of the firm's name he retained it, and only a small part of the general public knew whose brain it was that was working behind the old firm name. Until five years ago he carried the firm on alone. Then he organized it into a corporation capitalized with $2,500,00 preferred and $3,000,000 common stock, he being the President.... Many years ago Mr. Hatch purchased Red Rocks, a splendidly wooded estate on Lake Champlain, south of Burlington. He constructed a permanent stone road for many miles near Mallet's Bay. Along the road he set many drinking fountains. His interest in making improvements of this kind throughout Vermont continued to the time of his death. His body will be buried near Lake Champlain." Meanwhile, back in Burlington, Red Rocks had - and still has- some great swimming places, from a tame beach to massive cliffs for the foolhardy to jump from. If bathers were to buy their suits in 1879, the year Hatch took over Lord & Taylor, this is what they'd have been wearing
Bathing suits at Lord & Taylor's, 1879
If the bathers, or picnickers wanted to get around the estate in those days, or a bit later, they could have ridden in a buggy like this
View of Lake Champlain from Red Rocks, Burlington VT. Postcard from PSAW ephemera collections. This is the same image as on the Red rocks sign.
Alas, when daughter G. and I hiked up to recreate the view, we found the trees had filled in most of the roadway, and we ended up with this.
Red Rocks, view over Lake Champlain. Photo Liza Cowan
But we were happy, and the view is still spectacular. Maybe next time we'll find some old fashioned bathing costumes.