Then and Now

Macy’s Madonna window

Christmas decorations put up by retailers or retail groups have been a historical part of the downtown holiday scene. In 1956, the C.C. Anderson department store chain, based in Boise, completed a new 10-story building at Main Ave. and Wall St. in Spokane for their new store, called the Bon Marche after their Seattle store. And the store immediately commissioned a landmark holiday decoration which became the Madonna and Christ child simulated stained glass window for front of the store, which is now Macy’s.


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Image One Photo Archive The Spokesman-Review Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

Christmas decorations put up by retailers or retail groups have been a historical part of the downtown holiday scene. Wreaths, lighted silhouettes, painted windows and window displays at stores like the Bon Marche, the Crescent and other bygone businesses were traditional heralds of the coming holiday season. The Paulsen Medical and Dental building used to illuminate window lights in the shape of a giant cross. In 1956, the C.C. Anderson department store chain, based in Boise, completed a new 10-story building at Main Ave. and Wall St. in Spokane for their new store, called the Bon Marche after their Seattle store. And the store immediately commissioned a landmark holiday decoration which became the Madonna and Christ child simulated stained glass window for front of the store, which is now Macy’s. The 12’ by 48’ backlit painted plastic sign, built by Baldwin Sign Company, is lifted into position above the main entrance of the store every year around Thanksgiving since 1957. The design was changed, from a very traditional rendering to a modern, Cubist-influenced image in the 1960s. Baldwin updated the display by replacing some 500 incandescent bulbs with more than 1000 LED lights, cutting the operating cost by more than 90 percent, according to Joel Baldwin of Baldwin Sign, who’s been helping to install the sign since he was a teenager. The 1956 department store building was built to align with the adjacent Welch Building, built in 1914 on the corner of Main and Howard, and a unified facade was installed.


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