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Humble Beginnings

First partnered in 1857, Aaron Meier and Emil Frank opened the first Meier & Frank on Front Street in what is now Downtown Portland in a humble 25’ x 100’ storefront. Emil’s brother, Sigmund, was hired only two years later and would eventually replace Emil as Aaron’s business partner. The two families were officially joined in 1885 when Sigmund married Aaron’s only daughter, Fannie.

Through the turn of the century, Meier & Frank would continue to expand, eventually settling in an expansive five-story building on Fifth Avenue in 1898. Considered one of the first true department stores, the 200’ x 100’ building featured modern amenities unheard of at the time, including two elevators. Later expansions, including a ten-story tall annex cemented Meier & Frank into Portland history as the first “skyscraper” in the region.

In 1915, the store’s original five-story building was demolished to make room for a bold new sixteen-story store that provided shoppers with eleven-acres of total retail space. Now being led by Abe & Julius Meier (sons of Aaron Meier), Meier & Frank expanded its influence with a dedicated New York buying office and a radio broadcaster centered atop its new Highrise. In 1931, Julius Meier was elected as governor of Oregon where he established the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the Oregon State Police, and paved the way for the development of the Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams.

In 1937, Julius Meier died, leaving Aaron Meier Frank (son of Sigmund & Fannie) as president of the store. For nearly three decades, he successfully led Meier & Frank through the challenges of World War II and the industrial surge of the 50s and 60s.

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Aug 2