Monday, April 30, 2012

Cherry & Webb, Gladdings, and Shepard

The Tri-Store Bridge: Cherry & Webb, Gladdings, Shepard
I walked by this alley off Westminster Street in Providence last week, and spied "The Tri-Store Bridge".  Seeing these logos brought me back to my childhood, and shopping in these large and well-known department stores with my mother (with a snack or lunch--maybe chicken croquettes!--at Shepard's Tea Room).

The bridge was built shortly before 1900, and allowed the ladies who shopped to move from one store to another without having to step outside into the rain, snow, or mud.

Gladdings was the oldest of the three stores--it started in Providence in 1766 under a different name (using a bunch of grapes as its trade sign), but was sold to Watson & Gladding in 1807.  Watson left the business in 1815.  The store was originally located at 6 Cheapside (now North Main Street) but moved to 93 Westminster in 1878, and to this location at 291 Westminster in 1891, where it continued to use the bunch of grapes sign. Gladdings declared bankruptcy in 1972; the building is now used by Johnson & Wales University.  According to the Rhode Island Historical Society, the use of the bunch of grapes sign by Gladdings and its precursor owners constitutes the longest use of a trade sign in American history.

Shepard opened in 1880 at this location (corner of Westminster and Clemence) and was the largest of the 3 stores.  It went bankrupt in 1974, and the beautiful historic building is now used by the University of Rhode Island.

Cherry & Webb was a Massachusetts chain, founded in 1888, that went bankrupt in 2000.

Interestingly enough, this alley served as one of the filming sites for an episode in the first season of Body of Proof.  The show is set in Philadelphia, but it was filmed in Providence the first year, and in Southern California after that.  When they shot this scene with all these logos visible, it seemed to me that someone on the production team wasn't being very careful about not giving away the location!

Illustration Credits and References

Photo by author.

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  1. Thanks for this...I have such fond memories of the great Providence stores and lunches with my grandmother at Shepard's Tea Room...
    Welcome back !

  2. Cheryl--thanks for your post--Shepard's Tea Room was such a wonderful spot! I will do another more extensive post soon on Cherry & Webb--stay tuned!