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Object Record

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Catalog Number 1975.138.001
Description Levy Brothers Centennial Banner, 1972. Cream felt background with green printed outer border with green bold painted text that reads "A CENTURY OF SERVICE / A FAMILY TRADITION". In center, inside rectangular border, isgreen bold painted text that reads "LEVY BROS / 1872-1972". Has stylized fleur-de-lis on each side of the oval shaped banner. Text and pattern not visible on back.
Object Name Banner
Collection 3D - Documentary Objects
Title Levy Brothers Centennial Banner, 1972
Date 1972
Creator Unknown
Role Fiber Artist
Inscription Text "A CENTURY OF SERVICE / A FAMILY TRADITION" (Painted green bold text on the outer border of the banner)

"LEVY BROS / 1872-1972" (Painted green bold text in an inside rectangular border)
Notes "Levy Brothers, one of the most successful business operations on the Peninsula for over 100 years, closed its doors in 1986.

The store had been founded by French-speaking Jewish immigrants who migrated to this area from Alsace and are no relation to the author.

Alsace is a province sandwiched between France and Germany along the Rhine. For centuries the two large countries had argued over possession of this land. Alsace was culturally French when the treaty ending the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 ceded it once again to Germany. In 1872, Fernand and Joseph Levy, sons of a wealthy merchant in Alsace, arrived in Half Moon Bay. Some say the young men had fled conscription into the military.

The Levy brothers rented a space and bought out a general store, carrying everything from groceries to farm equipment. They operated the post office and the Wells Fargo Express Agency. They routinely offered to extend credit to their customers. In 1877, their brother Adrien joined them, and another brother, Armand arrived in 1882. In time they all married. Three of the brothers married sisters from the old country.

In 1879, they expanded by opening a branch in San Gregorio. Fernand took over that operation, acting as postmaster and saloonkeeper. Later Adrien replaced him. Joseph moved his family to Pescadero and opened another branch there. He offered door to door sales to the rural community. He would visit the various farms on horseback, taking along goods on pack animals. The three stores were linked by telegraph, so orders could be filled within 24 hours from the stock at any location.

Armand opened cheese factories near the three towns, supplying them from a herd of 600 cows. In 1891, the brothers opened a lumber mill near Pescadero. They also owned hundreds of acres of land and operated the first Coastside telephone exchange. By now they were the leading merchants on the coast.

Around the turn of the century, they sold their holdings and moved over the hill to open a large general store in San Mateo. This coincided with the time the oldest of their children were ready for high school.

There was no high school at that time on the Coastside. They continued their pattern of modernization and expansion in business. In 1910 they bought their first delivery truck. Telephone orders became common, especially among their more elite clientele.

In 1916, the Levy Brothers opened Buick dealerships in San Mateo and Burlingame. John Bromfield joined the firm in 1920, as Edmund Levy was the only son of the family then active in management. After Edmund's death in 1933, operations of the business were handled by Bromfield, and the remaining members of the Levy family sat on the board of directors. Bromfield's son Geoffrey followed his father into business with Levy Bros. In 1952, the Levys moved their San Mateo store from Third Avenue to larger quarters at Fourth and Ellsworth avenues. It was equipped with San Mateo's first escalator. For the first time since opening in 1872, Levy Bros. had no grocery or hardware departments.

Finally, in 1986, Levy Bros. stores went out of business. It was reported that the cause was unsuccessful expansion. At the height of its operation, there were branches again in Half Moon Bay, Burlingame, South San Francisco, Redwood City, Foster City and Vacaville."
[ 3/21/2017]

Dimensions H-20 W-24.375 inches
Medium Textile
Search Terms Centennial
Levy Bros.
Levy Brothers
San Mateo
San Mateo Businesses
Subjects Banners
Business enterprises
Centennial celebrations
Department stores
San Mateo