Black and white photographic print, taken from the southwest side of Woodward Avenue, and looking toward the Woodward Avenue entrance of The J.L. Hudson Company Department Store. A large Christmas sign is affixed to the exterior of the department store and features holiday ornamentation; the sign reads, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” C. 1941.
Photo courtesy of the Detroit Historical Museum
Say the word “Hudson’s” and most Detroiters will be able to share a story about visiting the elegant downtown department store or shopping at one of its suburban locations. Opening on Thursday, November 18 at the Detroit Historical Museum, Hudson’s Holidays will bring back the memories and magic of Hudson’s in pop-up exhibitions throughout the museum, just in time for the holiday season.
Founded as a humble clothier for men and boys in 1881, J.L. Hudson Company reportedly racked up an average of 100,000 sales per day by the 1950s, and its 25-story building was the world’s tallest department store until 1961. Visitors will learn what made Hudson’s so popular, like its huge selection of merchandise and full-service approach, which went beyond in-store restaurants, salons and alterations departments to offer amenities like a circulating library, a writing lounge and an in-house dry cleaner.
The exhibition will feature a selection of must-see items from the Detroit Historical Society collection, including the toys and decor that made the holidays at Hudson’s so magical, the fashions and accessories that made the store a year-round shopping destination and some artifacts from the downtown store that evoke the massive building’s distinctive features. Revisit traditions enjoyed by generations of Detroiters, like seeing the World’s Largest Flag, visiting Santa in Toy Town and shopping for deals in the Basement Store.
Throughout December, the museum will offer Free Holiday Sundays to showcase the Hudson’s Holidays exhibition. Visit during museum hours (1 – 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, 12, 19 and 26) for free general admission with special holiday shopping opportunities and programming. For details, visit detroihistorical.org.
The Detroit Historical Society is an independent non-profit organization that manages the Detroit Historical Museum in Midtown and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, while caring for an outstanding collection of 250,000+ historic artifacts. The Society presents hundreds of educational tours, programs, workshops and lectures annually. Founded in 1921, Detroit Historical Society has worked for 100 years to foster an appreciation of our region’s rich history, telling Detroit’s stories and why they matter.
The Detroit Historical Museum is located at 5401 Woodward Ave. (NW corner of Kirby) in Midtown Detroit. The Detroit Historical Museum is currently open to the public with abbreviated hours (Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.), with enhanced health and safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Historical content and virtual tours and exhibits are available at detroithistorical.org. Permanent exhibits include the famous Streets of Old Detroit, the Allesee Gallery of Culture, Doorway to Freedom: Detroit and the Underground Railroad, Detroit: The “Arsenal of Democracy,” the Gallery of Innovation, Frontiers to Factories, America’s Motor City and The Glancy Trains.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day otherwise regular hours at both Detroit Historical Museum and Dossin Great Lakes Museum.