Watt & Shand

Last updated
Watt & Shand
Industry Retail
FateAcquired by The Bon-Ton
Founded1878 (1878)
Defunct1992;27 years ago (1992)
Headquarters Lancaster, Pennsylvania
ProductsClothing, footwear, bedding, furniture, jewelry, beauty products, and housewares.

Watt & Shand was a department store that operated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1879 to 1992.

Department store Retail establishment; building which offers a wide range of consumer goods

A department store is a retail establishment offering a wide range of consumer goods in different product categories known as "departments". In modern major cities, the department store made a dramatic appearance in the middle of the 19th century, and permanently reshaped shopping habits, and the definition of service and luxury. Similar developments were under way in London, in Paris and in New York.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Lancaster is a city located in South Central Pennsylvania which serves as the seat of Pennsylvania's Lancaster County and one of the oldest inland towns in the United States. With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities. The Lancaster metropolitan area population is 507,766, making it the 101st largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and second largest in the South Central Pennsylvania area.


The facade of the former Watt & Shand building in 2012 Watt n Shand Lancaster PA.JPG
The facade of the former Watt & Shand building in 2012


Mercantile apprentices Peter T. Watt, 28, Gilbert Thompson, 32, and James Shand, 29, of Hartford, Conn., opened the predecessor of Watt & Shand, the New York Store, on March 9, 1878. The New York Store featured lines of foreign and domestic dry goods as well as upscale merchandise. The first item sold was a 100% wool plaid shawl for $5. [1] Known for their customer service, the New York Store was said to have an unwritten policy of remaining open until the last customer had finished shopping. [2] During the New York Store's first year of operation, partner Gilbert Thompson died.

Soon after Thompson's death, Peter Watt and James Shand changed the store's name to Watt, Shand and Company. In 1880, the store moved into a building located at 8-10 East King Street in Lancaster. In 1885, the store name was shortened to Watt & Shand, and the store was expanded to include space in the building at 6 East King Street. In 1889, the store added a ladies' ready-to-wear department which included coats, suits, dresses, and underwear.

In 1905, Watt & Shand acquired three adjoining buildings at 23 Penn Square, eventually absorbing Rohrer's Liquor Store, Shenck's Hotel and Marshall and Rengier's Hardware Store. In January 1959, Watt & Shand acquired Appel & Weber, a jewelry store, and in June 1968, it acquired Hager's Department Store. In August 1984, the downtown store completed a $1 million, three-year renovation. By 1991, the downtown store was 220,000 square feet (20,000 m2), cobbled together from seven different buildings.

In 1970, a second Watt & Shand store opened at Park City Center as one of the anchor tenants, which enabled the company to survive the exodus of large department stores in downtown Lancaster. By 1991, the Park City store generated 65% of sales, and virtually all of the company's profit. [3]

Park City Center shopping mall in Pennsylvania

Park City Center is a shopping mall located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is the largest enclosed shopping center in Lancaster County. It is situated at the intersection of U.S. Route 30 and Harrisburg Pike. The mall has over 170 stores and is anchored by Boscov's, JCPenney, and Kohl's. The shape of the mall resembles a snowflake, with its stores occupying 8 corridors extending from the center. The roof in the center of the mall is a large white tent, and encloses the octagonal Center Court. The mall underwent a major renovation in 2008, which took 18 months and included updates to every part of the mall. During its early years Park City was also called "Mall of Four Seasons" because of the seasonal names given to the 4 corridors leading to each anchor. Going clockwise from west to east was JCPenney in the two-story Winter quadrant, Sears in Spring, Gimbel's in Summer and Watt & Shand in Autumn. The high tech mall located in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country was one of the first to have its own closed-circuit television. Studios for Park City Communications and Lancaster/York/Harrisburg CBS affiliate WLYH-TV 15 were located on the first floor in the Winter wing alongside an ice skating rink.

The Bon-Ton purchased Watt & Shand in 1992, for about $10 million, and the downtown Lancaster store officially closed in March 1995. [4]

Bon-Ton Holdings Inc. is an American online retailer and former department store chain founded in 1898. After rapid expansion in the 1990s and early 2000s, the original company had financial troubles, ultimately filing for bankruptcy in 2018 before being sold and liquidated. In September 2018, its new owner began operating as an online retailer headquartered in Merrillville, Indiana, with plans to open brick and mortar locations. Other brands operated by The Bon-Ton are Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's, and Younkers.

The Watt & Shand Building

The Watt & Shand building was on the southeast corner of Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Done in the Beaux Arts style, the building was four stories of buff brick with elaborate terra cotta and marble ornamentation. The oldest section of the building, facing East King Street, dated from 1898 and was designed by C. Emlen Urban. In 1916 and 1925, major additions extended the building toward South Queen Street. [5] In 1999, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. [6]

Beaux-Arts architecture expresses the academic neoclassical architectural style

Beaux-Artsarchitecture was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century. It drew upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporated Gothic and Renaissance elements, and used modern materials, such as iron and glass. It was an important style in France until the end of the 19th century. It also had a strong influence on architecture in the United States, because of the many prominent American architects who studied at the Beaux-Arts, including Henry Hobson Richardson, John Galen Howard, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan.

C. Emlen Urban American architect

Cassius Emlen Urban was a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based architect. He was the leading architect in Lancaster from the 1890s to the 1920s.

The structure was demolished in 2006. [7] The Beaux Arts facade was preserved and incorporated into the Lancaster Marriott Hotel at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center complex which was built on the site of the former department store. [8]

Marriott Hotels & Resorts Flagship brand of Marriott International

Marriott Hotels & Resorts is Marriott International's flagship brand of full-service hotels and resorts. The company, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is repeatedly included on the Forbes list of best companies to work for, and it was voted the fourth best company to work for in the UK by The Times in 2009.

Lancaster County Convention Center

The Lancaster County Convention Center (LCCC) is a publicly owned convention center in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA. With initial site preparation in late 2006 and completion in the summer of 2009, the Lancaster County Convention Center is one of several projects intended to help revitalize downtown Lancaster.

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  1. Lancaster New Era. KNOW WATT - AND SHAND Pg. D2 November 17, 2006.
  2. LancasterHistory.org. Watt & Shand Collection, 1934-2003 Retrieved on 4-11-2010.
  3. Wall Street Journal. "Watt & Shand Is One Midsize Store Still Thriving Despite Credit Crunch." Apr 9, 1991. pg. A14
  4. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. "Park City plans $5M expansion" Sep 5, 2006. pg. 1
  5. City of Lancaster Watt & Shand Building Retrieved on 4-11-2010.
  6. National Register of Historical Places PENNSYLVANIA - Lancaster County Retrieved on 4-11-2010.
  7. Pidgeon, Dave (1 June 2006). "Buildings torn down at Watt & Shand". LancasterOnline. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  8. Harris, Bernard. "New landmark becomes old...again". LancasterOnline. Retrieved 4 August 2017.