Liverpool has lost a significant city-centre icon now that the first and last Lewis’s store has closed.
The business was founded in 1856 as a men’s and boy’s outfitters by David Lewis (1823-1885), an entrepreneur and philanthropist of genius who was one of the UK pioneers of what became known as the department store.
The existing building, a post-war replacement of the bombed-out 1910-23 building, was designed in 1947 by Gerald de Courcy Fraser. Its dominant feature is Sir Jacob Epstein’s bronze statue, Liverpool Resurgans [“Liverpool rises again”] (1954), the subject of much ribaldry, especially in wet weather.
Epstein also provided three relief panels of scenes of childhood in fast-setting ciment fondu. The emblems that decorate this elegant classical building – a virile man striding forward and a celebration of the generation we now call the “baby boomers” – speak of a post-war optimism for a future that turned out rather differently.
The Lewis’s building reopened as Britain’s first Adagio Aparthotel in June 2013: http://www.adagio-city.com/gb/united-kingdom/index.shtml.
For details of Mike Higginbottom’s lectures on Liverpool architecture, please click here.