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Foley's (Firm) | University of Houston Libraries

Name: Foley's (Firm)
Variant Name: Foley's Department Store; Foley's

Historical Note:

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.

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