From the Archives: Remember Brandeis?

Since I received so many enthusiastic comments on Facebook after I posted the downtown storefront windows blog, I decided a trip down Memory Lane via the Brandeis store was in order. I think anyone who grew up in Omaha (before 1980) will enjoy this. Several people in the Newsroom told me of their fond memories after seeing the photos I loaded into our system.


August 4, 1963

A passer-by gazes at this window display which features The Fair Store, which was the original name when it opened in 1881. It wasn’t until 1888 that the store was named J.L. Brandeis and Sons.

July 26, 1920

The Brandeis Building once featured a library and reading room. Did you notice that are only proper ladies are utilizing the space?

October 19, 1969

Brandeis was the place for fashion, and they held several trend-setting fashion shows every year. In the fall there was an international based show featuring a selected country. In 1969 they featured the U.S.A. in honor of the moon landing. Mini skirt, go-go boots – what every well-dressed astronaut was wearing, I guess.

August 8, 1944

Speaking of fashion shows, here’s a great one! This one features styles of the 1920′s, only modeled by the young male employees at the company picnic at Peony Park. Here Bill Russo is modeling the latest “Scraperelli” collection.

October 15, 1925

Everything at Brandeis was always the biggest and the best. This flag, on the building’s north face, was “the largest in the world” in October 1925. The 90 x 165 foot flag was made by the Scott-Omaha tent and awning company.

The late 1920's - early 1930's.

This undated photo (we estimated the time period based on the type of printing for the caption) is of the award winning window display featuring the story of Ak-Sar-Ben. It took “most original” from the Window Display Men’s Association and was won by the head of the window display department at Brandeis. Not only did stores have window display departments, they had entire associations devoted to the craft.

November 4, 1931

Thought this one was a bit creepy looking. In honor of Brandeis’ golden anniversary the 10th floor was turned into a wedding cathedral, complete with piped in music and wax figures wearing wedding fashions from 1881.


May 5, 1965

Workman installing the signage at the Fourth Street location in Council Bluffs showed a little bit of humor upon discovering the “D” globe had been broken in transient from Denver. They improvised to prove they did know how to spell!

September 11, 1980

A sad day for many of us. The start of the closing sale at the downtown location. It was truly the end of an era. Thanks Brandeis, for all the fond memories!


Jolene McHugh

About Jolene McHugh

I was a graphic artist prior to coming to the Omaha World-Herald in 2007, and now I’m a photo imaging specialist, which means I prepare photos to print properly in the newspaper. I also have the incredibly fun task of restoring old photographs from our massive library. My favorite part of my job is getting lost in the history and stories behind the photographs. Many of the archive photos have little or no information attached, so I need to properly date and identify the people and places in them. Researching the stories is a bit like being on a historical scavenger hunt. The largest challenge I face is restoring photos we run in our books. Our newest book, “At War, At Home: The Cold War” is filled with hundreds of old photographs, and most of them small and in poor condition. I live in Omaha with my husband, one of my daughters and three very furry Maine Coon cats.
This entry was posted in Viewfinder, Viewfinder - carousel, Viewfinder - Featured and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sandy Dimitrov says:

    Love all the Nostalgic Photos!

  2. Dianna Eveland says:

    I remeber Brandeis well!! Thanks for the memories.

  3. Roger Sindelar says:

    Would love to see a photo of Brandeis 10th floor Santa Land. Remember visiting every year during my grade school years in the 50′s. Loved the photo of the train running on the 1oth floor. Still was running in the 50′s. A wider vista shot of the 10th floor would be on the money in memories. thanks for your hard work. Brandeis lives on in memories like your work.

  4. Lanora Johnson says:

    One of the greatest things of growing up in Omaha in the 60′s was Brandeis. I was forever staring in amazement at the window displays. It was a great company. Having gotten to see Buffy and Jody from Family Affair at Brandeis and receiving my Mrs Beasley doll from Buffy is one of my fondest memories. My heart broke when they closed and I was terrified when I first heard they might tear it down like so many other beautiful buildings. I am so happy that it still stands.