News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 12, 2013

Abundance of shoe stores existed downtown

Kimberly Smith
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Spring to me means putting away heavy winter sweaters and bringing out fun lighter sundresses. It also means the possibility of shopping for a new dress or even new shoes.

Recently, the Vigo County Historical Museum’s assistant director, Barbara Carney, created a display of shoes from the museum’s textile collection. It showcases shoes from the late-1800s up to the 1980s, and highlights changes in style.

While viewing the display and thinking of a possible future purchase of spring shoes, it brought to mind the images of a bustling downtown Terre Haute. The thought occurred to me, “How many shoe stores were open to spring shoppers?” That question led me to discover the abundance of shoe stores downtown.

According to city directories, the majority of the footwear stores lined Wabash Avenue and seemed centered around the 600 block. Stores such as Ben Becker Shoe Co., Dan Cohen Co. Inc., The Root Store and The Herz Store Inc. were listed; some prominently with bold lettering. One store in particular stood out: Hornung and Hahn’s.

Established in 1893, by Otto Hornung, it was located at 653-655 Wabash Ave. and by the early 1930s, the store moved to 28 S. Seventh Street. Hornung’s was known for their high quality “brands” of men’s and women’s shoes. In1939, Ray Hahn joined the business, opening a children’s department below Hornung’s; in 1945, Hornung acquired additional store space at 26 S. Seventh St. allowing for the children’s department to move up to street level. In 1952, the store front was remodeled and the store incorporated creating Hornung and Hahn’s. An additional store front was added in 1956 and was located within the (then) newly constructed Meadows shopping center. Eventually, the store became known only as Hahn’s and by all accounts was a premier place to shop. Hahn’s remained in business until the 1980s.

While styles come and go, a great pair of shoes last forever! Excuse me while I step out for some shopping …

Historical Treasure

• The Vigo County Historical Society’s museum is at 1411 S. Sixth St. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through