By Brittainy Perry, Madhavi Prasad, David Brown, Tanmay Wagh, and Jermaine Brown
Title: Foley's Department Store Records, 1845-2006
Primary Creator: Foley's (Firm)
Extent: 117.0 Linear Feet
Date Acquired: 02/08/2007
Subjects: Advertising, African Americans - Segregation - Texas, Building, Dundas, Robert, Fashion - 20th century - History, Foley's (Firm), Foley's (Firm) - Finance, Foley's (Firm) - Marketing, Foley's (Firm) - Public relations, Parade floats, Storefronts - Exhibitions, Store hours - Law and legislation, Sunday legislation, Transportation
Forms of Material: Advertisements, Agreements, Annual reports, Architectural records, Bylaws (administrative records), Charters, Correspondence, Financial records, Legal documents, Memorabilia, Minutes, Newsletters, Newspapers, Photographs, Plans, Reports, Scrapbooks
Foley's Department Store Records comprise 42 record cartons, 16 oversized boxes, 32 bound ledgers and real estate records that are open to the public. In addition, there are 32 scrapbooks that are too fragile for public viewing. Records begin with the first stockholders' meeting held in 1911, preserved in a bound journal. Each year (primary organizational series) of the collection is divided into sub-series including Finances, Management, Marketing, Public Relations, Publications, and Oversize.
Several topical motifs recur throughout the collection. One prominent area is architectural design, represented by the construction of the modern Main Street store in 1947, followed by expansion with suburban branches in the 1960s. Suburban expansion required studies of transportation, consumer habits, as well as architectural design.
Advertising is another major theme and covers fashion, appliances, furniture, and special events. Management and public relations records reflect issues of social concern including depression era issues, war bond sales during the Second World War, and desegregation during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Preserved newspapers reveal Foley's publicity and advertising, while photographs feature coverage of the parades, Christmas windows, desegregation protests, and construction and grand opening of the Main Street store as well as the branch stores.
Pat and James Foley opened their Dry Goods Company in 1900, moved three times, and by 1922, Foley’s was the largest department store in Houston. Much more than a retail business, Foley’s Department Store became a fixture of Houston’s community, offering philanthropy, employment, entertainment, and fashion.
By 1927, Foley’s store included an auditorium that that substituted for a civic center and served as a rehearsal hall for the Houston symphony. During the Bank Holiday of 1933, Foley’s replaced patrons’ personal checks with Foley’s checks which were accepted at stores around town. When the banks reopened, and Foley’s deposited the personal checks, every check cleared. During World War II, Foley’s supported war efforts with bond drives and an overseas canteen. After the war, Foley’s became the “store of tomorrow” with a new building at 1100 Main Street, the first store in the south with escalators. Designed by Kenneth Franzheim, Foley’s signature store became a beacon for post-WWII consumerism.
In 1950 Foley’s sponsored Santa’s ride from Union Station to Foley’s. The following year, it became a full-fledged parade (Thanksgiving) that continued for 44 years. Photographs from the Foley’s collection include images of the segregated Fountain and civil rights protests at the Main Street entrance which was a major Metro bus stop. In 1961, Foley’s opened its first branch store in Sharpstown. In 1970 women marched on The Men’s Grill at Foley’s commemorating 50 years of right to vote – and suddenly the name changed to “The Grill.” Foley’s has a long history of philanthropic effort in the Houston community, honored in 1996 by Sheltering Arms as the single largest corporate contributor in the non-profit organization’s history.
Foley’s history as a local community partner ended in September 2006, when Macy’s assumed store operations and rebranded with the Macy’s name and logo. Many Houstonians, however, will never forget the annual Thanksgiving Parades and the Foley’s Christmas windows.
African Americans - Segregation - Texas
Fashion - 20th century - History
Foley's (Firm) - Finance
Foley's (Firm) - Marketing
Foley's (Firm) - Public relations
Storefronts - Exhibitions
Store hours - Law and legislation
Access Restrictions: Open for research.
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Photocopy decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis. Patrons are responsible for obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders.
Acquisition Source: Donated by Macy's South, LLC
Preferred Citation: Foley's Department Store Records. Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries