Remembering Lowell’s Bon Marche at “Forgotten New England”

This is a cross-post from Dick Howe’s blog.

March 6th, 2012

Lowell’s Bon Marché Store Remembered by “Forgotten New England”

by Marie

So many of us have fond  and quite personal memories of the Bon Marché store –  longtime anchor for retail business on Merrimack Street in downtown Lowell. The store’s founder Frederic Mitchell opened his first store on Merrimack Street in 1878. The Bon Marché – as we knew it – was brought by Allied Stores in 1976 and made into a Jordan Marsh. After extensive renovations, it became home to the Lowell School Department’s main office. Today, the building and annex houses the central operations  of the state’s second largest community action agency – Community Teamwork, Inc.

Today in “Forgotten New England” – using some examples of the store’s newspaper advertising – readers get a real sense of the Bon Marché – once touted as ” The Bon Marché Dry Goods Company – the largest department store in New England.” The store is truly entwined with the history of  the Lowell community. Here’s an exerpt from the article:

A few years later, as the Bon Marché and the rest of the downtown community lived through WWII, the store instituted wartime hours and again offered war bonds and stamps to its customers to support the war effort.  Lowell experienced a brief economic boom in the war years, mostly from the increased need for clothing produced by its remaining textile mills and its involvement in munitions manufacturing.

Read the full article here at

Do you have memories to share about the Bon Marché?

The Bon Marché building in downtown Lowell during a “festive” time.

5 thoughts on “Remembering Lowell’s Bon Marche at “Forgotten New England””

  1. From 1969 – 1971, I attended Rogers Hall, a small girls’ boarding school in Lowell, MA. I am not sure why; but some boys called us “the girls on the hill”.

    I was from Ohio, and during the school year I only went home a few times. So when I needed a new dress for a party or a dance; Bon Marche is where I shopped. We were allowed to walk from our grounds on Rogers Street, to Bon Marche in downtown Lowell. We had to have our parents’ written consent to leave the school for shopping; we could not go alone; we had to sign out; and we were only allowed to walk one, very specific route. I remember thinking it was the best department store in Lowell, but not as big or grand, as Higbee’s, Halle’s and Bonwit Teller’s in Cleveland. For the girls of Rogers Hall, going to Bon Marche was always more about the adventure of walking downtown Lowell, then the shopping experience. Every trip included a stop at Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop, and the hope of fliritng with some “townies”. This is my “pg” version of our Saturday shopping excursions. As boarding school girls in the late 60’s, we were on the verge of turning in our white gloves and party manners. I will save that version for my screenplay.

    We are planning a Rogers Hall Reunion for all classes, in the fall of 2013. Thinking about returning Lowell…somehow led me to this post.
    Thank you Marie.

    1. I grew up on Fort Hill Ave, near the Moody School. I remember as a kid riding my bike through the grounds of Rogers Hall from Rogers St. to Fort Hill Ave. as a short cut. One day as I was cutting through on my bike, the “head mistress” was out with her Irish Setter dog. He chased me and bit me on the leg! I still have a scar. Back then it was considered a “you get what you deserved” mentality, so there was no sympathy for me. LOL
      I also remember all the chestnut trees on the grounds, and how we would collect them in paper bags like treasures.

  2. Going through my grandmother’s old letter’s she received one from The Bon Marche
    Dry Goods Company 153 Merrimack St Lowell, Ma March 30th 1928. She had her art work framed there and the letter requested that her artwork was ready to be picked up. The letter was typed and very polite.

  3. I was born in Lowell Hospital (my parents lived in Billerica at the time) but never actually lived in Lowell until just a few years ago. When I recently took a baby photo of myself out of it’s frame so I could copy it for my grand-daughter’s baby book, I was amused to find that the back read: “Order additional photographs by giving number appearing on back or front of photograph. THE BON MARCHE, Lowell, Mass.”

  4. Anyone remembers People’s Market, Clermont’s on Textile Avenue, East Merrimack Street and at the site of Giant Store. How about Brockleman’s at the
    square and the Rex Center ? Can anyone pinpoint eh location of FORD STREET in Lowell ?

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