During the department store era of historic downtown Jacksonville, each store was known for its own niche. And perhaps none better occupied the “upscale” niche than Levy’s.
Levy’s Department Store was founded by Benjamin S. Levy in the early 1910s. It occupied a three-story building initially, constructing its brand around offering high-end apparel with departments for men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories.
After just over a decade, the store’s original location proved inadequate for its success. It commissioned noted local architecture firm Marsh & Saxelbye to design a new building at Hogan and Adams, across the street from fellow upscale retailer Furchgott’s. Levy also hired the firm to design a new house for his family around the same time.
Levy’s occupied all four floors of its new building upon its completion in 1927. The new building featured two entrances, one with a large awning, and ornate terra-cotta designs between its window bays. A large, vertical corner sign with “Levy’s” on it was added to face the Hogan-Adams intersection.
Over the years, Levy’s came to be trusted by Jacksonville’s elite shoppers for its curated selection. The store was a fixture in downtown Jacksonville for several decades, both as Levy’s and later as Levy-Wolf following a rebrand.
As the downtown shopping scene gave way to suburban shopping malls, Levy-Wolf joined several of its peers in creating satellite locations in places like Regency Square Mall. Unfortunately, the move to the suburbs was crippling for the store – and its local peers – who struggled to keep up with the various fast-emerging national department store chains.
Levy’s closed permanently in 1984, a victim of both changing shopping patterns and the rapid decline of downtown Jacksonville in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The Levy building still stands in downtown Jax; it was converted into office space not long after the store went out of business. While the building is now occupied by law offices, a dentist, and an eyewear shop, reminders of Levy’s can still be found – including on its ground floor, where a plaque commemorates the store’s founder, B. S. Levy.