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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Hub Department Store History

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 03, 2009

I knew when I looked in the box that the library must preserve and develop the scrapbook about “The Hub.”

 

The scrapbook pages were yellowed, the articles were falling apart, the glue no longer held the precious information in place.

 

All the love that Gladys Davison had placed into the scrapbooks over the years radiated from their organization.

 

Our local history/genealogy librarian Sandy Day brought them to my house so “I could do my magic on them.”

 

She and library staffers Debora Stanley and Janice Plante were developing supplemental information, and gathering the odds and ends from the library files to make a history of The Hub.

 

When I moved to Steubenville 26 years ago, the library staff mentioned The Hub and talked about the store.

 

When I suggested we go there for lunch one day, they told me that it had closed 3 years earlier.

 

The Hub was still being discussed in the present tense as a way of keeping the memories of the downtown Department Store.

 

My memories of The Hub were developed by reading the scrapbook, and comparing that to my personal memories of Bonham’s of Marietta, another department store purchased by L.S. Good & Co.

 

It is an era that has come and gone in nearly all communities, the departure of the locally-owned department stores.

 

Department stores opened in the U.S. in the 19th century, as a means of bringing together various smaller shops into one building.

 

The Hub was a true department store, as at various times in its history, the “departments” were owned by outside business people.

 

Earlier in its history, The Hub had a grocery store.

 

Various departments came and went as demands of the public changed.

 

I found it interesting to watch as the store hours changed.

 

In the early days, The Hub was open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays, and until 11:00 pm on Saturdays.

 

Various evening hours were tried over the years, but never as long as today’s expected hours for retail.

 

By 1954, the entire store was air conditioned, and renovations were done to various floors and departments.

 

The first credit plan was started in 1958 to encourage consumer sales.

 

In 1968, The Hub merged into the L.S. Good & Co. and became one of many stores in the Midwest in that system.

 

The 1970s brought a new parking area with the demolition of the Paramount Theater, and many store improvements.

 

The final chapter was written in July 1980 with the approval of the store closing by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

 

With almost 30 years having passed since The Hub closed, there is now more than a generation of people with no memory of the store.

 

Soon, store history will have passed as people involved in the store are gone.

 

As I say in the introduction, local history isn’t purchased from a publisher, it is assembled and written.