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December 7, 2013

HISTORICAL TREASURE: Christmas on Wabash Avenue

TERRE HAUTE — As the weather turns cold and the snow makes its inevitable return, the holiday season is upon us. Though most shoppers will find their holiday deals online and in the malls, it wasn’t too long ago when downtown Wabash Avenue was the epicenter of the shopping experience.  

Christmas on Wabash Avenue was as much of an event as it was a part of everyday shopping for local residents. Shoppers filled the sidewalks as cars and trolleys lined Wabash, making it one of the busiest areas in all of Terre Haute.

While many stores offered shoppers a variety of merchandise, no shop was more iconic to the downtown Wabash shopping scene than Meis. Opening its doors in 1924, Meis offered shoppers fine clothing and other wares to bustling holiday shoppers. Its Boulevard Room was a mainstay in high fashion for area women, offering elegant dresses for holiday parties.

Other stores, such as Schultz’s, are most remembered by their toy department. Dolls, model cars, tinker-toys and tea sets would be displayed and demand the attention of youngsters passing by. While shoppers were busy bustling from store to store, the street would also be lined with area charitable organizations; the Kiwanis Newsy was an annual newspaper showcasing the charitable work the organization had done. The sale of the newspaper would help in the coming year’s charitable work. In addition, there were organizations that conducted clothing drives and brought awareness to their cause, such as the American Lung Association.

Visitors to the Vigo County Historical Museum can be transported back in time during the “Christmas on Wabash” exhibit (currently on display) which features toys, dresses and other store products from the many shops that lined Wabash. Additionally, visitors will delight in seeing photographs from the various storefronts and street scenes on Wabash Avenue during Christmas time. For all this and more, visit the Vigo County Historical Museum.

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