Losing a Liverpool legend: Lewis’s department store

Lewis's department store, Liverpool

Lewis’s department store, Liverpool

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.

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