Filed Under Architecture

Lewis Department Store Building

This Beaux-arts style building was constructed in 1916.

Matched only by the F.K. Robeson Company, W. Lewis Department store was a solid anchor of retail in Downtown for over sixty years. Started by Wolf Lewis, who followed his father and immigrated from Poland in 1897, it began as a small dry good store at 109 North Neil Street called “The Economy”. The stock for this store was so small that most would fit easily on the Neil Street sidewalk. When the business boomed he quickly moved into the neighboring Illinois building that was constructed in 1902. However, on St. Partrick’s Day 1915 the Illinois Building was destroyed in one of Downtown’s most memorable fires. The fire raged so large that it not only destroyed the Illinois but jumped Neil Street and heavily damaged the buildings at 110 - 124 North Neil which survive to this day. Although Wolf’s entire stock was destroyed he persevered and opened the current building less than a year after the fire.

Like many others, W. Lewis and Company finally closed its doors for good in 1967. Today the building is occupied by various offices and owned by Busey Bank.

Images

View of a Portion of the Downtown Champaign Mall and Canopy, Champaign Taken from a vantage point on the east side of Neil Street a distance north of the intersection with Chester Street, looking north. Also, visible are business signs (Household Finance, Taylor Printing Service). The building with the awnings houses Lewis Department store. Source: Champaign County Historical Archives
at The Urbana Free Library, Urbana, Illinois
115 N. Neil Street
View: Facing South on Neil St. Source: Sam Logan Photography Creator: Sam Logan Photography Date: 26 March 2016
Miller St. Pat's Day Fire Source: Champaign County Historical Museum Date: 1915
Lewis & Co. Source: Champaign County Historical Museum Date: 1915
Neil Street looking North from Chester Street Source: Champaign County Historical Archives Date: 1930s
115 North Neil Street, W. Lewis and Company. Southwest Park and Neil Street Source: Champaign County Historical Archives
W. Lewis and Co Main Entrance Source: Sholem Family Date: Undated

Location

115 North Neil Street

Metadata

T.J. Blakeman, “Lewis Department Store Building,” ExploreCU, accessed June 30, 2022, https://explorecu.org/items/show/363.