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Rudy's Department Store

Rudy’s was established in Paducah in 1883, and became known as "the Macy’s of Paducah." Many of today’s older residents remember the awe that struck one when visiting the department store for the first time.

"It had everything, just everything imaginable….cosmetics, beautiful hats, fine clothing, tasteful household furnishings, just everything!" said a one time customer. The store provided a lounge for the shoppers, with courtesy telephones, even ice water in crystal decanters for those that were thirsty. And the ladies’ restrooms were the most elegant ever seen. Terrazzo tile, porcelain fixtures, marble columns, gilded mirrors, and bone china spigots at the lavatories. "Everything was so plush that you wanted to stay there forever," sighed the woman.

It had started as a modest establishment, however. James A. Rudy started the store on the west side of South Second Street, growing steadily to become a large, state of the art emporium in the 300 block of Broadway. The store boasted two Broadway entrances, as well as one around the corner on North Fourth. This was by the year 1919.

James Rudy died that year, leaving J. Henry Rudy and William H. Rudy to run the facility. However, J Henry died, falling to the influenza epidemic in 1922. This left William (and the two grieving widows) to run the store.

Their front windows were unbelievably attractive. An artist from New York came to Paducah six times a year to personally arrange the vignettes that shoppers delighted in viewing. Each display was professionally photographed before being unveiled to the public!

The store continued to thrive, until the great Depression hit. Even through that, it survived, through careful management. But it was the 1937 flood that spelled the end to the great establishment, and with it, the death of the last managing Rudy.

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