Department Store Architecture: Select Monographs and Articles

Introduction | General Reference Resources | Art and Architecture Resources | Architecture Resources | Selected Monographs and Articles

This section contains selected sources drawn from the reference sources in the previous two sections.


Here are sources on department store architecture that speak directly to the theme of this research.

Clausen, Meredith L. “The Department Store—Development of the Type.” Journal of Architectural Education 39, no. 1 (1985):20-29

The first section is about the precursors of the department store. Next is the development of the Bon Marche, The first modern department store and a few aspects of the building, the glazed court and the grand staircase are shown as influences in the design of subsequent stores in France and the United States (Avery shelf location: AB J8241).

Clausen, Meredith L. Frantz Jourdain and the Samaritaine: Art Nouveau Theory and Criticism. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1987.

An important work for the foundations of modern architecture as well as the beginnings of the department store, Clausen revises Pevsner’s formalist history of Art Nouveau as drawn from the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Clausen argues that the movement was alive and well in France prior to British experiments with the formal element of the whiplash curve. She states also that it is equally important to consider what the style was used for, of what it was made and who made it. New materials were made to function in new ways, hence, the term Art Nouveau. (Avery shelf location: AA 632 C571)

Hitchcock, Henry-Russell. The Architecture of H.H. Richardson and His Times. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1936.

Includes discussion of Richardson’s Marshall Field Wholesale Store, Known as an exemplary work that balances the functional with form. (Avery shelf location: AA 737 R3 H63)

James, Kathleen. Erich Mendelsohn and the Architecture of Modernism. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Discusses how Mendelsohn was influenced by expansion of progressivism and scientific theory, (relativity and social action), urbanism (automobile), economic integration (department stores) new entertainment (movies), as a form of dynamic functionalism.

O’Gorman, James. H.H. Richardson: Architectural Forms for an American Society. Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1987.

Covers a lengthier discussion of Richardson’s Wholesale store than in Hitchcock’s book. Discusses Richardson’s architecture as his preoccupation with architecture as image and expression of social program, and then his influence on the next generation. (Avery shelf location AA 737 R3OG6)

Pevsner, Nikolaus. A History of Building Types. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976.

A survey of 17 major building types, including shops, stores and department stores. Pevsner shows their succession as the evolution of the department store building type. The section on department stores is the most thorough, from the peddlers of pre-revolutionary France to the twentieth-century International styles. Illustrations are abundant. Each chapter is accompanied by a bibliographical essay. (Teachers College shelf location: fNA4170.P48)

Siry, Joseph. Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store. Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1988.

Compares Louis Sullivan’s store to stores by Erich Mendelsohn. Also traces aspects of Sullivan’s works tate preceded Carson’s as they emerged in the store’s design. The most important influence was not the vertical shaft of the skyscraper, but was the Transportation Building, an exhibition hall of the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893. (Avery shelf location: AA685 Su5 Si79)

Stern, Robert A.M., Gregory Gilmartin and David Fishman. New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age. New York: Monacelli Press, 1999.

Discusses the development and origin of Department Stores in New York City, in relation to the rest of growth in the rest of the city. (Avery shelf location AA735 N4St449)

Stern, Robert A.M., Gregory Gilmartin, Thomas Mellins, David Fishman, Raymond Gastil. New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between Two World Wars. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.

Section on department stores discusses the relocation and renovation of many stores into an modern classical (art deco) style. For example, Bloomingdales relocated from is Third-Avenue cast iron store to its present location on Lexington Avenue, which was designed in classical modern. Discusses changes in display windows to more theatrical lighting. (Avery shelf location: AA84 St453; Personal library)

Welch, Kenneth C. “Department Stores.” In Forms and Functions of 20th Century Architecture. Vol. 4. Ed. Talbot Hamlin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1952.

Contains criteria for identifying a building as a department store. Includes photography, floor plans and sections of such early buildings as the Bon Marche, Wanamaker’s, Marshall Fields, and Carson Pirie Scott, and Wertheim, Berlin. Also diagrams aspects of merchandising strategy with aspects of buildings, —why a particular kind of merchandise is placed in a particular place, and other functions of a store. Includes bibliography.

Zukowsky, John, ed. The many Faces of Modern Architecture: Building in Germany between the World Wars. Munich: Prestel, 1994.

A book about the “forgotten buildings” of Germany. Puts to rest the myth that modern building influenced by the BauHaus stopped with Hitler. Discusses traits of Mendelsohn’s Stores, particularly the rounded corner in relation to the placement of the front entrance. Compares to other stores, mainly Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott. (Avery shelf location AA656 M319)


What follows are important sources that explain the relation of informal education to the functions of a department store, and how department stores functioned formally and informally as educational institutions.

Cremin, Lawrence A. American Education: The Metropolitan Experience. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

Contains the history of education as it occurs across American culture. Directly related because it includes department stores and how they trained their employees with in-house vocational education Cremin also discusses how consumer needs and tastes are embedded in cultural consumerism. (Personal Library.)

Keppel, Frederick P. “The Arts in Social Life.” In Recent social trends in the United States. New York: McGraw Hill, 1933.

A primary source that includes department store merchandising and display, along with commercial graphics as a source of modern art, and what Keppel terms “indirect education.” (Personal library)

Material Culture/Cultural History Methodology

Here are exemplary sources of material culture method and theory, which are germane to the method of this research.

Ewing, E. History of Twentieth Century Fashion. London: B.T. Batesford, 1974.

An account of the entire process of the fashion industry, from the independent designer to the mass manufacturer, along with boutiques, shops and department stores. The Author draws out the social and economic conditions that have shaped the industry. Two World Wars and the youth movements of the 1950s and 1960s were significant influences. Useful to this study to show the broader landscape in which the department store has become an intricate part. (Barnard College Library GT596.E9 1992)

Harris, Neil. “Museums, Merchandising, and Popular Taste: The Struggle for Influence.” In Neil Harris, editor. Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1990): 56-81.

Discusses the similarities of the department store Marshall Fields and The Museum of The Art Institute of Chicago. During the Interwar years these two institutions rivaled for patronage. Shows similarities of the display of art exhibits and of merchandise, and their use of fixtures (cabinets, pedestals, etc) from the same or similar vendors. The museum and the department store began to resemble each other. (Columbia University Butler shelf location NX180.S6 H325 1990)

Lubar, Steven. “Machine Politics: The Political Construction of Technological Artifacts.” Lubar, Steven and W. David Kingery, Eds. History from Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. (1993): 197-214.

Discusses how objects are shaped by the society that uses them. Lubar argues that machines mediate relationships as part of culture, not determine relationships, because they are physical part of physical structures. It is also arguable that Architecture can mediate relationships in this way, as well (personal library).

Prown, Jules David. "“Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method."” Winterthur Portfolio, 17, no. 1 (Spring 1982): 1-19.

Argues a case for using objects as evidence for the study of history. Prown outlines a succinct, stepwise methodology for the beginning researcher, from the making of an hypothesis to the recording of data. He substantiates how objects are evidence of mental structures—intelligence in action at the time of design and making of objects. Analyzing architecture with these considerations, I will adapt Prown’s method to my study. (Personal Library)

Schlereth, Thomas J. Cultural History and Material Culture: Everyday Life, Landscapes, Museums. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1992.

Contains exemplary essays on methodology for material culture and cultural history. Includes history of Worlds Fairs and their contribution to material culture. The Department store building type was drawn from the exhibition halls used at World’s Fairs. (Personal Library)

Retail History

These histories will cover the business of Retail more than the history of department store architecture. Particular developments in the retail business will parallel changes in the department store building type, which will amplify economic, cultural and social reasons that can be paralleled with changes in department store buildings.

Ferry, John William. A History of the Department Store. New York, Macmillan, 1960.

Discusses the changing patterns in department store development, with thumbnail histories of various major stores. (Columbia Business shelf location: HF5461.F41)

Hendrickson, Robert. The Grand Emporiums: the Illustrated History of America’s Great Department Stores. New York: Stein and Day., 1979.

Covers the history of retail from the French peddlers to the American shopping mall. Includes anecdotal details of store operation and personnel. (Columbia Business shelf location: HF5465.U5 H46 1979)

Huxtable, Sally-Anne. “Seduction of Liberty: a Nineteenth Century Parlour Game.” Make 73 (December 1996-January 1997): 6-9.

About the history of the London department store. Draws upon Jean Baudrillard’s theory of ‘seduction,” in discussion of the store as a part of the Aesthetic Movement. Discusses how the store drew upon the popular concern of this period for appearances. Shows also how Liberty developed new strategies as other stores followed the trends Liberty’s innovations. (Interlibrary Loan).