Field Trip: Gimbel Corner in Vincennes, Indiana

Information and pictures sent in by Maria Burkett.

318 NE corner of Main and 2nd Streets. Photograph by Maria Burkett.

I went to the very sad town of Vincennes, Indiana a few weeks ago and photographed the buildings here (in the project area) it is located on the corner of Main and N. Second Streets and is called Gimbel Corner. Think Gimbels Department Store from Miracle on 34th Street. Around before Macy’s Department Store, Gimbels is credited with the oldest  Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Old Gimbel Corner, Vincennes, Indiana. Photograph by Maria Burkett

The very first Gimbels opened in Vincennes, Indiana, formed by Adam Gimbel,  a Jewish Bavarian immigrant who started out as a pack-peddler in 1842 and opened the first store as dry goods in 1857.  Gimbel moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and opened a large, successful department store in 1887. In the 1890s, Gimbels grew to Philadelphia and in the early 1900s, to New York City.


Photograph by Maria Burkett.


The short version of the ending is: after merging and being bought by other companies, Gimbels closed in 1987.

You can read more about Gimbels from the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Or at the Department Store Museum blog. The only source with lots of information seems to be the Wikipedia Gimbels article — without citations — does anyone have a good online source for Gimbels history?


Photograph by Eric Fischer on Flickr. Click for original source.

Also, to explore Vincennes, Indiana, check out this flickr set by Eric Fischer. Vincennes seems so sad, but with so much potential, don’t you think? Scan through the photos and you’ll see that there is some kitschy roadside architecture around Vincennes. What a great combination!