Filed Under Architecture

The Halle Building

Alfred Pope's Terra-Cotta Showcase for Downtown Shopping

In 1907 a New York industrialist acquired a rooming house on the south side of Euclid Avenue with rear frontage on Huron Road. At the time, downtown scarcely reached east of East Ninth Street, and this section of Millionaires' Row remained largely residential. Undeterred, the man imagined a tall building that might draw entice downtown development eastward. Appropriately enough, he selected an architect who was no stranger to big plans.

Alfred Atmore Pope had left his Millionaires' Row mansion in Cleveland in 1901 and moved to New York, but he remained keenly interested in the Forest City. After all, his parents had moved there from Maine on the eve of the Civil War, and it was there that he had struck out on his own as a young man, leaving his father's wool business to invest in the burgeoning iron industry. In only a decade he had risen to the helm of Cleveland Malleable Castings Company. Now he wanted to build a monument to his success. Even the Panic of 1907 did not deter Pope, who doubled down on his commitment, which he now also billed as a show of faith in Cleveland's future during an uncertain time.

Pope's "monument" would take the form of a skyscraper that he undertook on speculation. He turned to Henry Bacon to design this tribute to himself. The New York architect had prepared initial drawings for the Lincoln Memorial about a decade earlier, but the project's implementation still awaited congressional approval. Unlike in Washington, in Cleveland, backed by a "millionaire rolling mill master" on a mission, Bacon knew he wouldn't have to wait long to see the fruits of his labor.

Pope's monument began with a 42-foot-deep hole in the ground because he believed Euclid Avenue would eventually have a subway, and he wanted to have an underground entrance when that day came. To hold back the "quicksand" that reflected the site's nearness to Lake Erie, Pope's construction crews had to build a cofferdam and then pour thick reinforced concrete walls to keep the basement and subbasement dry. Above, they quickly assembled the building's steel superstructure and clad it with elaborately ornamented, white-glazed terra-cotta tile and enamel brick that would enable periodically washing off Cleveland's industrial soot.

Originally intending his monument to have two floors of retail space with eight floors of office space above, Pope instead found a single tenant to lease the entire $1 million Pope Building, a lessee that had a grand vision of its own that even a financial depression couldn't subdue. Who would make such a bold move during an economic depression and in a space so far east of Cleveland's business core? Samuel and Salmon Halle. The Halle Bros. Co. had started when its namesakes bought out a small furrier on Superior Avenue just west of Public Square in 1891. The Halles joined the shift of retailers eastward across Public Square to a Euclid Avenue storefront near the Arcade the next year, but with a growing mail-order and home-delivery business in addition to expanding into a full department store, they soon outgrew this space too.

With the lease of the 140,000-square-foot Pope Building, the Halles now had three times the space of their former location. Their move also influenced two other large stores to move eastward to upper Euclid Avenue. Within a year of Halle Bros.'s announcement, the Higbee Co. and Sterling & Welch Co. announced their own new stores on the sites of former Millionaires' Row homes across from the Pope Building. The Halle store's continued expansion led to the purchase of the building and plans to expand onto the adjacent lot following Pope's death in 1913. The Halles commissioned Bacon again, and he designed a mirror-image addition. Close observers will note the vertical seam that marks where the newer building rose alongside the original one.

Halle's continued to grow in the 1920s, adding an identically styled terra-cotta clad Huron-Prospect Building (designed by Walker & Weeks) to the south of the main store that housed the Men's Store for the next three decades. Near the end of the '20s it also opened branches in Erie and New Castle, Pennsylvania, and Canton, Ohio. After weathering the Depression and War years, Halle's continued to grow, investing in its first suburban branch (at Shaker Square) and undertaking a modernization program that included the addition of escalators.

Downtown's fortunes began to turn in the second half of the 1950s, forcing Halle's to continue its aggressive planning to maintain its enormous downtown store's profitability. Walter M. Halle, Samuel Halle's son and by then the store's president, grew concerned about the impact of the CTS rapid transit line, which opened in 1954-55 and served downtown with a single station beneath the Terminal Tower (which incidentally benefitted Higbee's after its move to Public Square in 1930). Halle Bros. added its own free bus service from the Terminal on Public Square in 1956 and converted its Huron-Prospect annex into a parking garage in 1957, all while actively lobbying for a downtown subway to carry suburban shoppers closer to its store, but this hope died after the plan was twice defeated.

Nevertheless, through ongoing effort, Halle's continued to hold its own into the late 1960s. In fact, for many Clevelanders born after midcentury, the 1950s and 1960s shaped their relationship with Halle's. The store introduced Mr. Jingeling, said to be Santa's keeper of the keys, as a popular Christmastime character who joined other child-friendly features such as the toy department, playground, and miniature golf course. Still, by the latter half of the 1960s, the convenience of suburban malls and inconvenience or even trepidation about trekking downtown led Halle's to press for new downtown apartments to create a captive market.

Although the Chesterfield Apartments opened in 1967 and Park Centre (Reserve Square) in 1969, the future of Halle's seemed shaky. Sterling Lindner, the successor to Sterling & Welch, closed in 1968 and the Allen, Ohio, State, and Palace Theaters fell dark the next year. In the decade after Chicago-based Marshall Field's scooped up Halle's in 1970, it made changes that irked some longtime tradition-minded customers—dropping the signature Halle Bros. logo in Old English font with a script font Halle's matching that of the Chicago store; ending the Mr. Jingeling tradition; and introducing cheaper lines of merchandise.

Ultimately, Field's dumped Halle's in 1981, and the store closed permanently the following year. Just as suddenly as Samuel and Salmon Halle had justified Alfred Pope's big gamble at a time when downtown had not yet "arrived," the building emptied. In the decades that followed, the Halle Building became what Pope had originally envisioned—an office building with a few small retailers (a food court and sundry services for office workers). It lived on as a department store only in public memory and, for a decade in the 1990s-2000s, as the fictional Winfred-Louder on ABC's The Drew Carey Show. Today it is an apartment building.

Images

The Halle Building, Euclid Avenue Facade The Halle Building was originally only half of its present width. The original building was the portion to the left of the vertical seam at the center of this photo. It was built as a speculative office and retail building by Alfred A. Pope, an industrialist. Pope called the building a monument to his success in Cleveland and was determined to spare no expense. Indeed, the building was extraordinary, from its 42-foot-deep two-level basement (intended to link to a future subway) to its intricate terra-cotta ornamentation designed by Lincoln Memorial architect Henry Bacon. Creator: J. Mark Souther Date: December 15, 2017
Albert Atmore Pope (1842-1913) Albert A. Pope was born in Maine to parents who had immigrated from England several years earlier. Pope came to Cleveland with his parents at age 19 in 1861. After the Civil War, Pope's father entered the wool trade, and he worked there a short time before investing in the Cleveland Malleable Castings Co. in 1869. By 1879 he was president went on to buy several other casting mills in the Great Lakes region to form National Malleable and Steel Castings Co. in 1891. In 1879, Pope also started the Eberhard Manufacturing Co. to supply castings to wagon and carriage makers. By the 1890s, the newly rich Pope had his own Millionaires' Row home, but he and his wife departed in 1901 to live with their daughter on her estate in Farmington, Connecticut. It was during this time that Pope decided to build the showpiece skyscraper that served for the next 70+ years as the Halle Bros. Co.'s flagship store. Source: Cleveland Vol. 1 (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1918), 34, ocm01260216, Cleveland Public Library, Center for Local and Global History. Creator: E. G. Williams & Son, N.Y.
West from E. 14th Street, ca. 1907 This view of the fork of Euclid and Huron shows a brick house at center, which by the early 20th century was the Antoinette Restaurant and Dining Parlor with furnished rooms on the upper floors. The future Pope (Halle) Building would soon rise behind it, part of the transformation of this older section of Millionaires' Row into part of downtown. The Union Club, which appears at right in the distance, was completed in 1905, and the Point Building would open on the site of this house in 1909. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: ca. 1907
Pope Building Under Construction This photo of the still-exposed steel frame of the upper floors of the Pope Building makes clear that upper Euclid Avenue was in transition from Millionaires' Row to downtown in the early 20th century. Two 19th-century homes still stood to its west, at times literally in the shadow of the new Pope Building. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: 1908
Rooming Houses and Fruit Stands Next to Pope Building These houses stood where the second half of the present-day Halle Building would be built several years after the original, whose west wall appears at left. These rooming houses had fruit stands set up in front along the sidewalk. The sign at right indicated that the side alley led to Hotels Wyandot and Tavistock. Before upper Euclid Avenue became a major retail hub in the 1910s, it was a transitional fringe area that had a mix of single-family and rooming houses and apartment hotels. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: 1908
Salmon Portland Halle (1866-1949) Salmon Halle was the oldest son of Cleveland merchant German Jewish immigrant Moses Halle, who arrived in Cleveland in 1848. Salmon Halle and his brother Samuel Horatio Halle started Halle Bros. by purchasing T. S. Paddock & Co., a furrier in downtown Cleveland, in 1891. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection
Halle Bros. Store in 1894 Halle Bros. Co. started in 1891 when Samuel and Salmon Halle bought out a furrier and hat repair shop on the north side of Superior Avenue near Seneca (W. 3rd) Street, now the site of the Sherwin-Williams headquarters. The brothers' store soon outgrew the space and moved across Public Square onto Euclid Avenue in 1892. The store, which appears at right in this photo, was in the building east of the Arcade, which had been built just two years before. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: 1894
Sterling & Welch and Higbee Co. Stores After Halle Bros. announced its move to the Pope Building on upper Euclid, two other major stores planned their own moves from lower Euclid Avenue to keep up with the expected eastward movement of retailing. Sterling & Welch, a rug, carpet, and home furnishings store that would later merge with Lindner & Davis to form the Sterling-Lindner department store, built the building at center in this photo. The Union Club appears to the left. The Higbee Co. department store moved to the building at right, on the corner of East 13th Street. Eventually Higbee's moved west again to be close to the new Cleveland Union Terminal. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Creator: Louis Baus Date: 1915
The Newly Expanded Halle Bros. Store In 1913, architect Henry Bacon designed an addition that was identical to his original building for Alfred A. Pope, who died that same year. The Halle Bros. store expanded into its doubled space in 1914. Today few people probably know that the Halle Building was originally two buildings side by side. Only the vertical seam in the middle hints at this fact. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: 1914
Euclid Avenue at Huron Road, Looking West The Halle Bros. store looms behind the Point Building, a two-story "flatiron"-style commercial structure that was demolished in the 1990s to build what is now the Crowne Plaza hotel. At that time Huron Road was reconfigured to curve into East 13th to the north. The reconfiguration enabled a portion of Huron to be remade into a triangular plaza at Euclid and East 14th. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Date: 1920
Halle Bros. Delivery Truck This Halle Bros. delivery vehicle sits in front two suburban houses. Even before suburbanites came to rely on the convenience of shopping malls in later years, they could avail themselves of the store's home delivery service, which had started in the 1890s as part of Halle Bros.'s mail-order business. In 1910, Halle Bros. converted to a fleet of motorized delivery vehicles and auctioned off its team of horses, seven delivery wagons, and related accoutrements. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: 1930
Shoppers in Front of Halle Bros. Store, 1940 Shoppers stroll past the west Euclid Avenue entrance to the department store. The Walgreen's Drugs sign in the background was on the ground-floor of the Cleveland Athletic Club Building, now The Athlon apartments. Source: Ohio Guide Photographs, Ohio History Connection Creator: Frank Jaffa, Ohio Federal Writers Project Date: 1940
Jewelry Counter on First Floor This undated photo, possibly from the 1930s, shows the interior of the first floor of Halle Bros. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection
Entrance to Men's Row Before the Men's Store opened in the new Huron-Prospect Building in 1927, Halle's Men's Row was located in the main store on the first and second floors. As one 1925 ad pointed out, "Men's Row is easily accessible from the West Euclid Avenue Entrance at Twelfth Street without passing through any other department of the store." Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Date: ca. 1920s
Mr. Jingeling at Halle's Halle's introduced Mr. Jingeling as Santa's Keeper of the Keys in 1956. Originally played by Max Ellis, by the mid '60s Tom Moviel was Mr. Jingeling. Here he appears in front of a display of shiny silver castles with animals and elves. Halle's was just one of a number of Cleveland department stores that had fanciful holiday attractions. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Rebman Photo Service Date: ca. 1965
Boarding the Halle's Special In 1955, after the Cleveland Transit System (CTS) opened its rapid transit line through the Union Terminal, it cut back bus service on Euclid Avenue. Concerned about the impact on the Halle store, Walter M. Halle (Samuel Halle's son) started a special Halle's bus from Public Square to his store in 1956 and worked behind the scenes to urge building a subway line to enable transit riders to reach the store more easily. The subway was never built, and Halle's continued to subsidize free buses fifteen years later, even after Walter Halle died and the store was operated by Marshall Field's. Ultimately, even with free buses every 20 minutes, suburbanites were not traveling downtown to shop in sufficient numbers, leading the Chicago retailer to sell off its Halle's stores in 1981. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Herman Seid Date: 1971
Halle Bros. Parking Garage The department store continued to grow in the 1920s. To make room for additional departments in its ten-story main building on Euclid and Huron, Halle Bros. Co. turned to Walker & Weeks to design a new building to run from Huron to Prospect. Opened in 1927, it housed the new Men's Store as well as home furnishings. In the 1950s, as downtown parking became a growing concern, Halle's consolidated these departments back into the main store and converted the Huron-Prospect Building into a parking garage. Today it remains so, and its blade sign is the lone outdoor vestige of the Old English font logo that was otherwise retired when Marshall Field's of Chicago took over the Cleveland retailer in 1970. Creator: J. Mark Souther Date: May 23, 2020

Location

1228 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115

Metadata

J. Mark Souther, “The Halle Building,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 2, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/960.