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New at Parkleigh, a Bright Piece of Rochester Retail History?

August 26th, 2014

This chandelier at Parkleigh once hung inside B. Forman Co. in downtown Rochester, NY. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Here’s a fun little history mystery that I could use your help with. Jeannine Klee, owner of Parkleigh on Park Avenue recently acquired this Venetian glass chandelier from a friend who claims it once hung inside the original B. Forman Co. department store in downtown Rochester. The fixture, now on display above the candy counter at Parkleigh, is quite beautiful. But, could it really be from B. Forman Co.?

A view of the B. Forman Co. store at 46-50 Clinton Avenue South. Christmas decorations are visible. c.1930. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
B. Forman Co. first opened in 1912 at 46 Clinton Avenue. Later the founder’s son, Maurice Forman, took over the business, expanded it and moved the downtown store into the new Midtown Plaza which he co-developed with Gilbert McCurdy of McCurdy & Co.

Collectively, McCurdy & Co., Sibley, Lindsey & Curr Co., and the B. Forman store created a downtown shopping mecca that was unparalleled for decades. The stores were lavishly decorated, and according to old advertisements buyers for B. Forman Co. regularly hunted for items in Europe to be sold in its stores. Venetian chandeliers might not be out of place in an establishment like this.

The chandelier is in fairly good condition except for one broken arm, now being held together with string. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
The chandelier is in fairly good condition except for one broken arm, now being held together with string. Jeannine tells me it was broken during its move to Parkleigh external link.

If you have any information related to B. Forman Co. and this chandelier, please leave a comment. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
My attempts to find old photos of the B. Forman Co. interior have all but failed. Searches at the Rochester Public Library, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Landmark Society and the Rochester municipal archives turned up nothing. Very unusual. So my next move is to turn to you, RochesterSubway readers.

If you have any memories or photos of B. Forman Co. or this chandelier, please leave a comment below, or email me at info@rochestersubway.com.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 at 7:41 am and is filed under Art + Culture, Rochester Destinations, Rochester Images, Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

10 Responses to “New at Parkleigh, a Bright Piece of Rochester Retail History?”

  1. Ruth Nederlk says:

    Sorry have no pictures. Remember shopping at McCurdy and CO. Not born when old Foreman was pictured.

  2. Mark says:

    Sorry can’t help with the chandelier… Was B. Foreman also in Long Ridge Mall? I remember some giant chandeliers in that place. Contemporary globes made up of hundreds of individual lights.

    Among other thing’s like the wierd freight elevator to the second floor.

  3. Tom LaChiusa says:

    Yes, that was from the Midtown store, and hung in the cosmetics dept. near the front Mall entrance.
    I worked for B. Forman Co. for many years.
    I do have pictures of the store as well. Probably not many ex-employees left I’m sorry to say

  4. Laurie Hannan says:

    I worked as an assistant buyer at B.Forman Midtown and later as an assistant part time manager at LongRidge. Sorry I can’t remember the lighting. And I remember the elevator. This was in the 80’s.

  5. Carl says:

    I have no memories of the lighting fixtures at Forman’s, but I do remember that it was a very classy upscale store: a chandelier like this would have fit right in. As an unrelated thought, the building immediately to the left is the old Lyceum Theatre; once Rochester’s most important playhouse. It opened in the 1880’s and was demolished (I think) in the early 1930’s. It would be nice to see a post about that!

  6. @Tom LaChiusa, thank you! Now was this in the original store, pre-Midtown Plaza?? If you have photos I would love to see them. If you can, please email to info@rochestersubway.com

    @Carl, I may do a post on the Lyceum soon. In the meantime, here’s full view of it.

  7. Tom LaChiusa says:

    I can’t really say where it was pre-Midtown Plaza, because where the Mall entrances were (there were 3 on the first floor) was the back of the building, so it would probably not be there. The back, in fact, was Cortland Street, where their loading dock was. Formans, McCurdys,the National, all backed up to this street for delivery purposes. All those stores still got there deliveries in the same place right up till there closings. That became the ‘truck tunnel’ under Midtown mall.

  8. @Tom, this may be a dumb question, but was the B. Forman building the same building before and after the mall was built? The facade changed, but B. Forman didn’t build a new building, right?

    Also, what years did you work there?

  9. Tom LaChiusa says:

    Yes, it was the same building, but other adjoining buildings were incorporated, and became ‘additions’ to the original, especially on the Clinton Ave. side, and on the south side. What was B.Forman Co,
    was really about 5 buildings put together. Of course in the 1980’s the store space shrunk as they rented out space to Lincoln First, and other business’s, including the 5th and 6th floors to WBBF radio. I believe the station was once owned by B. Forman (hence the BF in the call letters)
    I worked there from 1972-73, and again from 1978 to until they closed in 1994.

  10. AJ Mann says:

    This specific Venetian chandelier hung on the main floor where the ceilings were particularly high, over the Home Gifts Department near the Clinton Avenue entrance. The much smaller chandelier mentioned by a previous commenter was hung in a short ceiling end alcove adjacent to a Midtown Plaza entrance that featured rotating featured seasonally-tied boutique merchandise.
    The large chandelier in the gift department was a ingenious and exquisite visual cue to shoppers because the very finest home furnishings were displayed there..all the merchandise one can now find at a place like Bergdorf Goodman’s ‘Home on 7’
    in Manhattan. Rochesterians didn’t need to shop Manhattan, because B.Forman had the finest..Richard Ginori, Royal Copenhagen, Bernardaud and Flora Danica porcelains, Baccarat and St.Louis Fine Crystal,Christofle and Buccellatti Silver,Fine handmade French Bouillotte and Chinese lamps, custom order Pratesi sheets, high end strikingly beautiful home furnishings regularly featured in the
    NY Times,Architectural Digest,House Beautiful…It was magnificent,all beautifully displayed.


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