On OETA, the PBS “Masterpiece Classic” series “Mr. Selfridge” is following the life and times of the creator of London, England’s first department store.
Selfridge & Co. was envisioned and built in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, an American businessman who learned the merchant trade in Chicago, Ill.
A comparison could be made to Oklahoma City’s Baum Building, built in 1909 and opened in 1910 by Moses J. Baum.
M.J. Baum, born in Mississippi of German parents, arrived in Oklahoma City in 1897 at the age of 18. He is described in the June 15, 1915, edition of The Oklahoman as a “pioneer merchant of Oklahoma City and the first dealer in women’s exclusive garments in the southwest ...”
“Coming to Oklahoma City eighteen years ago, Mr. Baum established what was known as the ‘Bazaar,’ the first exclusive women’s garment house in the southwest, there being no similar business in Wichita, Dallas or any of the other cities in this section.”
His business was doing so well that in 1909, at the age of 30, Mr. Baum secured a 99-year lease from the Henry Overholser family for the northeast corner of Grand (Sheridan) and Robinson, acquired the services of architectural firm Layton, Hawk and Smith, and began construction on a five story building, which cost $140,000. It was completed the following year.
The Baum Building had stone cupolas on all four corners, as well as towers, arched windows, and marble and terra-cotta decorations, making it one of the most ornate buildings in Oklahoma City. It was modeled after the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy.
The new building attracted tenants and Baum’s flourished on the first three floors for several years judging by the many advertisements appearing in The Oklahoman.
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