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Rubenstein’s ‘The Famous’: Century of the latest fashions

This picture postcard was created after The Famous moved from 217 Broadway to 101-103 Broadway in 1910. Robert Spaun collection.


The fashion word was, in the late winter of 1907, that hats for spring and summer would lean to simplicity. Mary Dean, fashion writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, explained:

“This is the day of the small hat, which means money in the pocket of the hairdresser; for a synonym of ‘small hat’ is elaborate coiffure.

“The picture hat always has a vogue. Some fashionable women who have found this type particularly becoming cling to it without regard to the different changes as the seasons come and go.”

Mary Dean noted: “There is a simplicity about the hats for this spring that will prove one of their chief attractions. The types displayed even in the exclusive shops are easily followed by a clever person, and many a woman will be the proud processor of several hats made by herself.”

In vogue

Hats were very much in vogue in Hannibal in 1907, as well as on the east and west coasts. Louis Rubenstein, a New York native who first opened a ladies’ wear store in Hannibal circa 1902, had recently moved his small store from 211 N. Main to 217 Broadway.

At the time the city directory was published for 1907, Rubenstein had five milliners in his employ:

Mss Harriett Wagner, residing at the Conklin Hotel;

Miss Bertha Knadel, who lived at 510 N. Fourth;

Miss Nola Arnold, 807 Broadway; and

Miss Ethel and Miss Nina M. Stoops, making their home with their parents, John M. and Sara Stoops, at 1015 Bird.

He also had four female clerks:

Miss Marie Kelly, 600 Rock; 

Miss Lulu Hottinger, 1610 Broadway;

Miss Bertha Capella, 1610 Broadway; and

Miss Lula Bright, 1610 Broadway.

Max Rubenstein was a clerk at the store, and made his home at 213 Broadway.

The Rubensteins

Louis and Max Rubenstein were married to sisters, Phoebe and Mamie, daughters of Judah J. and Julia Isaacs of Kansas City, Mo.

Louis Rubenstein and Phoebe Isaacs, 22, exchanged wedding vows on Feb. 26, 1890, during an evening ceremony at the home of her parents,  at 1311 East Fifteenth Street, in Kansas City. 

For a time, Louis and Phoebe Rubenstein lived on North Fourth Street in Hannibal, but by 1907, they were boarding at the Union Depot Hotel.

217 Broadway

The two-story brick building which housed Rubenstein’s expanding business was located adjacent to and west of the alley which divides the 200 block of Broadway. On the second floor was the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Co.

Prior to Rubenstein’s occupancy of the building, Joseph Lesem operated a clothing store at that location. Earlier, it housed the E.P. Bowman Dry Goods Co., and before that, Edward Drescher operated a dry goods store at that same site.

Louis Rubenstein’s nephew, Morris Goldstein, a bachelor, came to Hannibal circa 1909. 

“The Famous” at 217 Broadway, was so successful at garnering its share of business, that the management looked toward expansion. The building across the street, located at 101-103 N. Main St., was vacant, and the decision was made to lease that space.

An advertisement in the Hannibal Morning Journal announced that “The Famous” would open at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 14, 1910, at its new location, in the key business building, located on the northwest corner of Main and Broadway.

With the business up and going, according to The Modern View newspaper in its June 18, 1915 edition, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Rubenstein of Hannibal relocated to St. Louis, residing at the Buckingham Annex, Kingshighway and West Pine boulevards.

The Goldsteins

In August 1914, Morris Goldstein traveled to New York City to join Mr. and Mrs. L. Rubenstein  in the selection of a fall and winter stock for The Famous. 

On June 30, 1915, Morris Goldstein and Miss Mildred Morris, of Louisiana, Mo., were married.

They would later have two daughters, Marjorie Jane (Cissy) and Helen Sybil Goldstein. They made their home at 303 Virginia.

Louis Rubenstein ultimately moved to New York, starting a wholesale business originally named Apparel Alliance Inc., from which The Famous purchased merchandise.

In Hannibal, Morris Goldstein became active in civic affairs. He was a charter member of the Hannibal Lions Club, and was elected president in 1931.

In 1932, Goldstein served on a committee to boost the move for a new high school through securing passage of a $230,000 bond issue. Dulany Mahan was chairman of that committee.

Morris and Mildred Goldstein operated the business together. In 1939, their daughter, Marjorie Jane (Cissy) Goldstein was married to Harry Cohn, and in 1946 the Cohns became affiliated with the business. Harry and Cissy’s daughter, Marilyn, assumed management of the business in 1985.


A devastating fire occurred in the early hours of Jan. 12-13, 1930, destroying the building housing The Famous and all of its contents. The fire was described by the Quincy Herald Whig as “One of the most disastrous fires in many years.”

Every available Hannibal fireman responded, and fought the fire from 11:30 p.m. Jan. 12, until 5:30 a.m. Jan. 13.

At the time of the fire, the management of The Famous was conducting a “removal sale.” The lease on the building, according to the Quincy Herald Whig, had expired, and management of the retail store was preparing to move to a building just across the street.

The S.S. Kresge Co., was planning to move into the building at 101-103 N. Main.

A new building ultimately replaced the building historically known as the Settles Building at 101-103 N. Main, and Kresge’s would later occupy the new building.

The Goldsteins did move to the building across the street, and reopened The Famous at 104 N. Main.

Despite repeated flooding, The Famous remained in business on North Main street, at first at 104, and later at 110, until the store permanently closed in 2006.

Note: Some information for this story was obtained from Hannibal Courier-Post stories published on Feb. 22, 1999, and June 15, 2006, accessed via

Note: Louis Rubenstein’s original Hannibal store is now in use as the sales center for Java Jive.

This is an advertisement from the Sunday, April 10, 1910, edition of the Hannibal Morning Journal, announcing the move of The Famous from 217 Broadway to 101-103 N. Main. Advertisement from Mary Lou Montgomery’s collection.

The Famous was advertised in the 1907 Hannibal City Directory. At the time the store was located at 217 Broadway. Directory accessed via the Hannibal Free Public Library’s website.

Before he moved to Hannibal, Louis Rubenstein operated “The Famous Store” in St. Mary, Mo. Advertisement from the Sainte Genevieve Fair Play, Jan. 9, 1897. Conformation that the store was conducted by L. Rubinstein was from the same edition of the newspaper.

The Famous advertised Easter hats in the April 2, 1922, edition of the Ralls County Record.

Hannibal Courier-Post photo of the awning of The Famous store, taken in June 2006.

The interior of The Famous, June 2006, as the store was preparing to close permanently. Courier-Post file photo.

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’ and the newest book, “Oakwood: West of Hannibal.” Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at

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