Daniel Henry Holmes Establishes D.H. Holmes Department Store
April 2, 1842
This advertisement, which ran in the March 28, 1924 Times-Picayune, announced D. H. Holmes Company's
upcoming 82nd anniversary. The pictorial time-line included Holmes' first store at 22 Chartres Street which opened on
April 2, 1942, as well as the first widespread usage of the telegraph in the United States, and womens' fashion of the day.
Elias Howe's invention of the sewing machine in 1845) is included as is Cyrus McCormick's development of the reaping machine,
the placement of the Andrew Jackson memorial in New Orleans, the building of the Custom House on Canal Street, and the French
Opera House fire of 1919 -- all of which had taken place since Holmes opened his first store.
In 1849 Holmes moved his headquarters to Canal Street, where he developed his first department store, patterned
after the finest stores of Paris and New York City. His store offered customers fine and unique products and services and
become one of the most successful retail establishments in the nation. By the end of the 19th century, it was the largest
department store in the South, with customers served by more than 700 employees.
The April 2, 1938 advertisement on the right welcomes shoppers to celebrate Holmes' 96th birthday by enjoying
a piece of a 400 pound cake which depicted the store and its famous clock, under which New Orleanians gathered -- "Meet
me under the clock" had become a part of our city's vernacular.
the years, the Holmes company added new stores, becoming a regional chain. The Canal Street store was a landmark for
140 years, until Dillard's Department Store chain bought Holmes' stores in 1989.
After Dillard's closed the Canal Street store, the City of New Orleans with Historic Restoration Inc. converted
the building into a luxury hotel which opened in 1995 as the Chateau Sonesta. It was renamed Chateau Bourbon when it joined
the Wyndham Chain in 2008. It became the Hyatt French Quarter Hotel in early May 2012.
In his Pulitzer prize winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole's character Ignatius Reilly
meets his mother under the clock in the opening pages. The clock was stolen when D.H. Holmes closed but was returned to the
hotel in 1995 by thieves who purported that they took it for safe-keeping -- and became local heroes. Under the clock now
is a life-sized sculpture of Ignatius Reilly which was financed by Chateau Sonesta and the Downtown Development District.
"Holmses" is gone forever but New Orleanians can still meet under the tiny but beloved clock.