Backstory and Context
Prior to the construction of the current building, a disastrous fire took place in 1900 that destroyed two buildings, one building being known as the Wilen building. In 1902 the current building was constructed. The building is one of the tallest building in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It is a three-story brick building that curves from North Queen Street to East Martin Street. A panel in the corner bay is stone with the “1902” date. The building was also the first building in Martinsburg to have an elevator in the store. The building is known as the “1902 building” and also known as “The Katz Building.”
In 1910 one of the first Jewish Department stores was opened. The store was called “Katz & Lipsic’s Department Store” which was owned by George Katz and Louis Lipsic. When the store opened in November of 1910 the Martinsburg Statesman paper reported that thousands of people visited the store. On the first-floor store sold dry goods and notions in the front and in the back of the store housed a men’s clothing department and a furnishings department. On the second floor the shoppers found ladies coats and millinery. On January 1, 1911 Louis Lipsic retired and the stores name changed to George Katz & Company Department Store and later George Katz & Sons
After the death of George Katz in 1932, the three sons along with their mother continued to operate the store and expand it. The entire Katz family worked at the store. The department store contained the Women’s clothing and millinery department, furniture and home furnishing department, women’s clothing and ready-to-wear department, and women’s shoes and millinery hats department. The store even had a vault for fur coat storage.
The corner became known as Katz Corner. During the 1940s the department store held fashion shows with the latest fashions with the shows being held at the Apollo Theater and also in the floor length windows on the second floor. From the 1930s to the 1960s a shopper could find taxi cabs lined up outside the store.
The Katz & Sons Department store remained in business and operated by the family until 1960 when the business was sold to Rosen & Sons of Hagerstown. Today the building is an event venue known as “1902 on Queen.”
Bailes, Marc . Country Roads Took me home to West Virginia, Foward.com. April 2nd 2015. Accessed May 18th 2020. https://forward.com/culture/217410/country-roads-took-me-home-to-west-virginia/.
Berkeley County Historical Society. Loose papers from the "Local History Jewish History" archival files.
Berkeley County Historical Society. An Architectural and Pictorial History of Berkeley County. Volume II. Martinsburg , WV. Berkeley County Landmarks Commission, 1992.
Photo by Susan Crowell
Berkeley County Historical Society