John Bressmer Co.

The John W. Bressmer Co. was founded as a dry goods store in 1861 and later expanded into a full-fledged department store, selling men’s and women’s clothing, furniture and household items. With Myers Brothers, it was one of downtown Springfield’s best-known retailers.

bressmer johnThe founder, John Bressmer (1833-1914), came to Springfield in 1848, according to the Portrait and Biographical Album of Sangamon County (1891), “poor, unacquainted with the language and customs of America, but ready to do any honest work and keen to take the advantage of an opportunity to advance.” Bressmer became a dry goods clerk in the mid-1850s, and after partnering with others for a decade, became sole owner of his own store in 1868.

Bressmer fire (Sangamon Valley Collection)

Bressmer fire (Sangamon Valley Collection)

For most of its existence, Bressmer’s was at 613 612 E. Adams St., although the store had to move into temporary quarters for 18 months following a spectacular fire on May 2, 1948.  Among amenities in the rebuilt Bressmer’s was the first escalator in a downstate department store. 

Bressmer’s was purchased by the Ayers Corp. in 1958 and then by Stix, Baer & Fuller in 1976, but continued to operate under its own name until 1979. The downtown store closed in 1980.

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Bressmer-Baker House

The home John Bressmer built at 913 S. Sixth St. is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Queen Anne-style home, now known as the Bressmer-Baker House, recently has been used as law offices.

Hat tip: To Doug Mayol of The Cardologist for pointing out SangamonLink’s error regarding Bressmer’s address.

More information: Department store summary, Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library. See also the Bressmer’s entry in The Department Store Museumbridge

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This entry was posted in Architecture, Business, Department stores, Disasters, Historic Sites, National Register, Prominent figures. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to John Bressmer Co.

  1. Lola says:

    I have acquired a flow blue “Lincoln Home Springfield ILL. 1860” dinner plate marked Made in England for the John Bressmer Co. It has Etruria England Wedgwood also marked on it with the artist number and other markings that I cannot read. I am wondering what value can be placed on it. I have no way to attach pics.

  2. Lola says:

    This plate is dated 1910 and measures 9-1/8in.

  3. Douglas Mayol says:

    How could it have spent most of its existence at 613 E Adams when it was almost always, except during the post-fire redo in 1948, on the south side of Adams Street…which is the even numbered side of the street? Did the address numbering flip?

    • editor says:

      Because I have fat fingers, Doug. Two of the great things about online publishing are (1) that readers can point out the editor’s stupid errors and (2) that the editor, blushing, can then correct them. Thanks for pointing this out, and thanks for being a careful reader. My apologies to all.

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