History buffs and shopaholics will want to visit the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society on Wednesday when writer Leslie Goddard stops by to discuss the history of Chicagoland's first major department store, Marshall Field’s.
Goddard's lecture, which will be held at the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society, 361 E. Westminster, will begin at 7 p.m. and last about one hour. Admission is $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers. To make a reservation, call 1-847-234-5253 or register online.
An acclaimed writer, researcher, and performer, Goddard received a doctorate in history from Northwestern University in 2001. Since that time, she has pursued several independent research projects and often visits local museums and learning institutions, sharing her research with others.
In 2011, she published her first book, Remembering Marshall Field’s, a nonfiction account of the enduring success of the retail giant. Goddard intends to talk about this book and the research that led up to it Wednesday.
According to Goddard, whose grandfather worked at the Marshall Field’s flagship store on State Street for most of his life, the department store is almost as old as the city of Chicago itself.
"Chicago was incorporated in 1837, and Marshall Field’s was established in 1852," she explained. "At the time, there were only 80,000 people living in Chicago, and the city was considered a tiny outpost on the western frontier."
The store and the city grew together, and many people came to think of the flagship store as an enduring Chicago landmark, like the Sears (now Willis) Tower or Navy Pier.
Goddard noted the Lake Forest branch of the store helped cement the company's continued popularity.
"Marshall Field’s opened its first suburban store — in downtown Lake Forest — in 1928."
At the time, the company was on the verge of expanding into other cities and states, and the early establishment of the Lake Forest branch proved the company capable of succeeding on a national and international level.
The Lake Forest store is, of course, no longer in business, but many residents still fondly remember its elaborate window displays, luxe interiors, and unparalleled customer service.
In fact, some staunch Marshall Field’s fans still gather outside the old State Street location once a year, to protest Macy's 2005 acquisition of the Marshall Field’s name.