that people assumed it would be here forever. Alas, after 153 years, the downtown Lazarus department store closed in August of 2004.
Many Happy Returns to Lazarus, an hour-long documentary on WOSU.TV, celebrates the end of the venerable store and examines what it has meant to the generations of Ohioans who have shopped and worked there.
“Lazarus wasn’t just a store to shop at downtown,” says Ming Sickles Fisher, a long-time customer. “It was the store we shopped at.”
Many Happy Returns to Lazarus tells how Simon Lazarus came to Columbus from Prussia and opened a store on High Street in 1851 and shows how the Lazarus building, in the heart of the city, would find a place in the hearts of generations of Central Ohioans. More than a department store, Lazarus became the place of milestones: first haircut, summer job, first bus ride alone, prom dress, interview suit. It’s even the place where countless men and women met—usually as workers in the store, though occasionally as customers—and became husband and wife.
The documentary, and this accompanying Web site, stands as a video scrapbook of the downtown store and features interviews with dozens of customers and former employees, many of them sharing photos and mementos. “I don’t think there’s one person who doesn’t have a happy memory. It was just the best place to be,” says shopper Jayne Bell. “It was just a classy place. I can remember only happy memories since I was a child.”
Your support enables WOSU to produce quality programming about Ohio culture and history. Become a friend of WOSU.
We are indebted to several institutions for sharing the wonderful images that bring this story to life: The Ohio Historical Society, WBNS, and The Columbus Dispatch. In addition, we are grateful to The Columbus Foundation for supporting this production.