|Shoppers at the State Street store in Schenectady, ca. 1940s. |
Photograph from the Carl Company Collection.
In 1906, the Carl Company shuttered several of its smaller stores to open a store in Schenectady, and Charles W. Carl, Sr. and his wife, Lily Swick Carl (d. 1976), moved to the city. The Schenectady department store was initially located in the Kinium Building at 256 State Street (now 240 State Street) before the Carl Company constructed a new building at 430 State Street in 1916, where the store remained until closing in 1991. The downtown store was further expanded in 1925, as the Carl Company acquired property on Smith Street across from the rear of the store for a warehouse and expanded the store west on State Street. In 1972, the building was renovated and modernized. By the following year, after the closure of the H.S. Barney Co. and Wallace Co. stores, Carl’s became the sole Schenectady-based department store downtown.
|The Carl Company store at 288 Saratoga Road, the first of the|
Carl Company's suburban branch stores, ca. 1954.
Photograph from the Carl Company collection.
Charles W. Carl, Sr. served as president of the Carl Company until his death in 1940. Subsequently, his wife, Lily Swick Carl, served as president until 1957. Their son, Charles W. Carl, Jr. (1924-2001), served as president of the company from 1957 until 1984, when the family sold its stores to General Atlantic Corporation, a New York City-based private-investment banking firm. Charles W. Carl, Jr. chose Joel Helfman as his successor as president. Helfman served as the president of Carl Company until its stores were closed in 1991.
After 100 years of business, the Carl Company announced in February 1991 that it would cease operations. All stores were closed by May 1991. The State Street store closed on May 25, 1991. The closing of all area stores and its distribution center left 597 people out of work.
The Carl Company collection is comprised of memorabilia and records of the Carl Company chain of department stores. The collection includes a number of photographs, mostly dated from the 1940s through the 1980s, showing employees of the store at 430 State Street, annual anniversary sales, and exteriors and interiors of area Carl Company stores. The collection also includes material related to the closure of the Carl Company stores in 1991, including entries in store memory books, letters, and newspaper clippings. A finding aid for the collection can be found here.