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Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
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IHS Press Publishes a Glimpse at 150-Year History of Jewish Merchants in Indianapolis

January 28, 2022

In the latest release from the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) Press, “Looking Forward, Giving Back: The Jewish Merchants of Downtown Indianapolis,” author Kenneth L. Turchi traces the 150-year history of the Jewish merchants, offering a glimpse of a more genteel time when shopping downtown was a special experience.

Jewish business owners came to America from eastern and central Europe before the Civil War. Many started out as peddlers, selling pots and pans in the Jewish neighborhoods of Indianapolis. By 1900, these enterprising peddlers opened storefronts along Washington Street, and their businesses grew with the city.

From bargain-priced selections at the Star Store to the gleaming marble arcade at Block’s, downtown offered something for everyone.

At the same time, the city’s Jewish merchants — Gustave A. Efroymson, Louis P. Wolf, Leopold Strauss, William Herman Block and others — never forgot their gratitude to the people of the city that made them successful. The stores they owned have faded into history, but their founders’ generosity lives on in the 21st century.

Author Kenneth Turchi developed an interest in retailing while working for a clothing store in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Ind. He worked for L. S. Ayres & Company while attending Wabash College and later earned a law degree.

“Looking Forward, Giving Back: The Jewish Merchants of Downtown Indianapolis” is available through IHS’s Basile History Market and other places books are sold. For more information about the book or the IHS Press, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.

In addition, IHS’s newest exhibit, Jewish Merchants of Downtown Indianapolis, opened January 15 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. The exhibit expands on the history of Jewish merchants and how their stores played a significant role in offering Indianapolis an innovative shopping experience on par with some of the largest department stores around the world.

For more information about this exhibit and other IHS offerings, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.

About the Author
Kenneth L. Turchi developed an interest in retailing while working for a clothing store in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Ind. He worked for L. S. Ayres & Company while attending Wabash College and later earned a law degree. He spent most of his career in marketing and management in banking and higher education. He is also the author of the books “L. S. Ayres & Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America” and “Indiana University Auditorium: 1941–2016.”

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Title:                           Looking Forward, Giving Back: The Jewish Merchants of Downtown Indianapolis

Publisher:                  Indiana Historical Society Press

Pages:                         176

Size:                            9 x 12

Cover:                         Hardcover

Publication Date:        December 2021

Cost:                            $29.95

ISBN:                           978-0-87195-458-9

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