YESTERYEAR: Schear’s Department Store

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Schear’s Department Store

by PAT SIDES

The Schear’s store, seen here ca. 1960, was one the last of downtown’s grand old department stores. The firm had opened as the New York Bargain House in 1906 after Leo Schear, a Russian immigrant, moved to Evansville from Cincinnati. After his death in 1925, his children owned the store for nearly four more decades. 

In 1936, Schear’s moved into the building seen here at 21-23 SE Fourth Street. An extensive renovation expanded the storefront and added 47,000 more square feet, enabling the creation of new departments such as millinery, chinaware, and men’s clothing.

In 1961, Schear’s joined the elite 50-Year Club, a national group of businesses that had operated for at least fifty years. It was also the largest locally owned retail establishment. Later that year, however, the department store closed due to the exodus of shoppers to the East Side. The building was razed and replaced by a parking lot.

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