illinois Digital News

Illinois Pioneers – Department Stores


Illinois Pioneers – Downtown Department Stores
by Illinois Public Media

Kyle Robeson, grandson of the founder of Robeson’s Department Store, and Gordon Tracy, general manager of Joseph Kuhn’s and former employee of W. Lewis and Company, discuss the the rise and fall of the downtown department stores in Champaign. Opened in 1865, Kuhn’s was the first, and still exists. Others went out of business or moved to moved to Marketplace Mall once it was built.

Funding for Illinois Pioneers — Champaign @ 150 is made possible, in part, by the Noel Foundation, and by donors to the Champaign 150th Anniversary Celebration Fund. More information on the city’s 150th Anniversary is at


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