Apr 7, 2022
This show will follow up previous Hoosier History Live programs in two ways. We showcased the founding and evolution of the legendary Indianapolis-based department store L.S. Ayres & Co. during a show in 2013. And just last week, we focused on Jewish immigration to Indiana from 1840 through the 1920s.
Our follow-up show will spotlight the two department stores that rivaled Ayres for about 100 years: William H. Block Co. and H.P. Wasson & Co., known conversationally by generations of Hoosier shoppers as “Block’s” and “Wasson’s”. In addition, we will explore L. Strauss & Co., which also was based in downtown Indy and specialized in high-quality clothing. Jewish merchants founded or built all three retailers in the late 1800s, with multiple generations of Jewish families overseeing the businesses for much of the 1900s. (The Ayres family was Protestant.)