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New Castle Dry Goods/Troutman's - New Castle PA

The R. S. McColluch Company, a small dry goods firm, was founded in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1905. The company, located at the southwest corner of Pittsburg Street (later East Washington Street) and Croton Avenue, was a typical dry goods store dealing in clothing, small household items, sewing supplies, and various notions (sundries). B. F. Langdon served as the manager of the business, which shared a building with the C. Ed Smith Hardware company that was later home to The Sporting Goods Store beginning in 1930. In about early 1912 the successful company came under the control of the well-known Boston Store of Erie, Pennsylvania, and was rebranded as the New Castle Dry Goods Company with plans to expand its operations.

The Boston Store purchased property which included the old McCandless Building, just across the intersection from the McCulloch store and along the Neshannock Creek. The McCandless Building and several smaller adjoining businesses, to include a restaurant and an old livery stable, were razed beginning in April 1912. At that location the company began work on a three-story retail store/office building known as the Mercantile Building, which came to be referred to as the New Castle Dry Goods Building. The start-of-the-art structure had a modern sprinkler system, drinking fountains, lavish restrooms, a waterproof basement, and various other amenities. D. L. Cole was sent down from Erie to help co-manage the store with Langdon, and the two were later joined by H. S. Forbes to form a managerial triumvirate.

The store opened on Wednesday, May 14, 1913, and a story on the front page of the New Castle News had this to share, “So great was the interest of the people of the city in the new building that crowds were on hand before the opening of the doors at 10 o’clock. Attracted by the beautiful window displays many proceeded from the outside to inspect the handsome new store, which at present occupies the entire first and mezzanine floors. In less than five minutes after the store had been thrown open it was filled with admiring crowds and business was soon underway.”

The New Castle Dry Goods Company occupied the entire first floor and part of the second floor, while the basement was utilized as a stock room. A portion of the second floor and the entire third floor was leased to other businesses, but eventually the Dry Goods store took over the entire building as it enjoyed considerable success. While most of its aging competitors such as Brown & Hamilton, Euwer’s, Clendenin’s, and Stritmater’s were soon closed, the New Castle Dry Goods Company survived the Great Depression and kept its doors open. By 1930 the store, which started with just a handful of sales people in 1905, had over 125 employees. The retail side of the business came to use the moniker of “The New Castle Store.” When that change happened seems difficult to nail down, but the new name is very prominent in print ads beginning in early 1940.

Business continued to decrease over the years especially with the growing popularity of suburban shopping malls in the post-World War II era. In early 1966 the name New Castle Dry Goods was dissolved as the Boston Store and all its assets came under the ownership of the powerful Allied Stores Corporation. The New Castle store was renamed as Troutman’s as it became a branch store of the A. E. Troutman Department Store chain of Butler. Like so many other downtown department stores its business slowly dwindled to a point where in October 1984 it was announced it would be closed after the holiday season. The Troutman’s in New Castle, along with company stores in Greensburg, Butler, Indiana, and Latrobe, were closed in early February 1985. Two other Troutman’s stores in Greensburg and Washington were converted into Pomeroy’s, one of nineteen department store chains then under the Allied Stores Corporation umbrella. The New Castle store, managed by Robert Stroble, had actually been bringing a slight profit for several years, but was nixed due to an overall cost-cutting measure. The fifty-five employees affected in New Castle were given the option to transfer to another Allied store.

The building sat abandoned until it came under the crosshairs of a downtown revitalization program beginning in 2002. Local investors and state grants/loans helped the city renovate or establish such locations as Riverwalk Park, Zambelli Plaza, Grant Street Park, and the East Washington Street Bridge. Work of restoring the old New Castle Dry Goods Building began in late 2007 at a cost of $4.9 million. The building was owned by a group that included developers Tom George and Robert Bruce in conjunction with the New Castle Area Transit Authority.

The renovated structure reopened in early December 2008 as the Pier I Complex and the majority of it was leased to become the new home of a call center (helpdesk) of the InfoCision Management Corporation. The large telemarketing firm, founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1982, had previously been leasing space in the Cascade Galleria since 2002. The company has since expanded operations and currently employs about 350 people at its New Castle location. Various reports say the building is listed on the National Parks Service’s (NPS) National Register of Historic Places, however a search of the NPS website does not reveal such a listing. The building, fortunate to escape demolition, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.



To read about D. L. Cole of Erie being sent to New Castle to help manage the newly acquired store in 1912 click on: TO ASSIST MANAGER ARTICLE. To read more about the death of a construction worker at the site in March 1913 click on: WIMER DIES ARTICLES. To see a full page advertisement from March 1913 posted by the New Castle Dry Goods Company as they prepared to move into the new building click on: SALE AD. To read about the grand opening of the New Castle Dry Goods Building in May 1913 click on: DAYLIGHT STORE OPENS ARTICLE.


The three-story Mercantile Building, built at the south end of the East Washington Street Bridge along Croton Avenue, opened for business in May 1913. It was built by – and home to – the New Castle Dry Goods Company, which occupied the bottom floor and parts of the second floor. Many smaller businesses rented out the remaining office space in this start-of-the-art building. (c1915) Full Size


The New Castle Dry Goods Company, formed from the R.S. McCulloch Company, was in operation at this location for many years. It was later rebranded as the New Castle Store and in 1966 became part of the Troutman’s department store chain. Troutman’s closed in February 1985 and the building sat vacant until it became part of a downtown revitalization project in the mid-2000’s. The East Washington Street Bridge (and one its lamp posts)is slightly visible at the extreme left of this old postcard. The red car is motoring east along Croton Avenue. (c1915) Full Size


The New Castle Dry Goods retail store was later restyled as The New Castle Store, possibly in late 1939 or early 1940. Full Size


The store became part of the Troutman’s chain in 1966. (c1984) (Photo courtesy of Don Jenkins) Full Size


Troutman’s Department Store not long before in closed down in early 1985. (c1984) (Photo courtesy of Don Jenkins) Full Size



The old New Castle Dry Goods Building shown here a few years after Troutman’s closed its operations in early 1985. (Photo by Dee Dee Laird) (c1987) Full Size


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Comment

  1. I am now 92 years old. To think I used to run the elevator for passengers around 1941,
    served as store walker assistant, and met my wife in the store.

    Robert Rapp · 01/07/2014 05:00 PM · #

  2. When I was 8 yeas old, my father died. (1950) Mother had never worked out of the home prior, however with 3 of my 7 siblings still at home she needed a job. She worked in the Hosiery Dept. at New Castle Dry Goods. She did not drive a car but walked a mile to the Harlansburg Rd. and got a ride with Mrs. Kneram from Harlansburg. The store was open on Monday’s till 9:00. Before Christmas it was open every night till 9 and many winter nights she waded snow to get home to our farm house. She worked a 40 hour week at $4.00 an hour. That was before taxes and Social Security was taken out. Then she came home to a family and farm chores! What a woman!

    Lois Henneman · 01/07/2014 11:19 PM · #

  3. I grew up in New Castle. My grandfather, Howard Duff, had an autobody repair shop on Jefferson St. in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was Duff Auto body or Duff’s auto body. Do you have anything in your archives, a picture of the shop, the sign…anything? I have been searching for years. He may have started his shop in the 1940’s Any help would be sooo appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    Brian Duff · 02/05/2014 07:58 PM · #

  4. I was born and raised in New Castle. We left in 1959 for CA.
    I see a familiar class mate of my late mother, Robert Rapp. I would like to get in touch with him. Someone please give him my email address. I must update him on my parents. shalldncr@aol.com
    Thanks,
    Sherron Hall

    Sherron Laurito Hall · 02/08/2015 08:19 PM · #

  5. I’ve always wondered about the ‘Troutman Building’, why it was built to overhang Neshannock Creek. Was it to gain more floor space?

    Rick Leasure · 01/29/2016 12:55 AM · #

  6. When I worked at A.E.Troutmans in the eighties, the building had a lot of interesting interior details that had been covered up by the false facades in decades of cheap remodeling.
    They were glorious examples of the craftsmanship of gracious living. Ceiling treatments and pendant light fixtures that drew your eye rather that flat, drop ceilings and fluorescent panels. A mail drop of glass & cast brass. An extensive pneumatic cash delivery system from the wonderful cashiers cage on the third floor. The mechanicals and elevator operator controls on the freight and passenger elevators were magnificent. Even the handrailing details so rudely encrusted below dozens of paint layers were so far beyond what can be had at any price today.
    Most of the most interesting were no longer visible to the public or even most of the employees. You had to be in maintenance to explore the beauty buried under the garish layers of functional remodeling.

    Brian McC · 03/22/2017 09:24 AM · #