Ladies Lounge: The Evolution of Block’s Branding

Written by on February 18, 2013 in Ladies Lounge - 12 Comments
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photoDoes your heart skip a beat when you chance upon an old hometown brand while out vintage shopping–especially when it’s a long-time favorite like Block’s or Ayres? With a beloved company such as Block’s that lasted almost 100 years, let’s look back at the evolution of their branding through the decades. The above is one of the earliest found, from 1898, when the original storefront was still on Washington Street.


By 1940, this cursive script represented the brand, and much of the marketing images included a sketch of the entrance to the store (on Illinois Street)


And in 1951


This was also from 1951:


Abbreviated full name: the Wm H. Block Co.

And here is 1965:

photo 2

The tags inside the clothes weren’t always consistent either; note this one from inside a 40’s or 50’s fur wrap:


There are more out there, undoubtedly, but which is your favorite?

And do you call it/ remember it as Block’s or Wm H. Block & Co?


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12 Comments on "Ladies Lounge: The Evolution of Block’s Branding"

  1. Joe February 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm · Reply

    Blocks is what I will always remember it as.

    I still love the fact that they tried to have everything, including Blocks Auto Care and Collision Centers.

  2. Pat Shepperd February 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm · Reply

    Does any one remember the womens dresses in the news papers From Blocks and Ayres? You could just call and order them.

  3. Kevin February 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm · Reply

    I worked at Block’s LaFayette Square all through college in the ’70’s. It was a great place to work….lots of wonderful people. Mr. Block and his wife would come to dinner every night in the restaurant. They would enter through the Garden Shop door and head toward the elevator. They would always stop and visit. One evening Mrs. Block pulled a dress shirt from a bag and handed it to me. She told me to find Jack, the tailor, and have him get the same shirt in all available colors and “sew them up” and she would pick them up on their way out. Turns out Mr. Block wanted all of his dress shirts stitched closed from the second or third button down. He preferred to slip them on over his head. Go figure. The store hosted many high profile stars endorsing products.

    • Tiffany Benedict Berkson February 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm · Reply

      Wonder which Mr. Block this was…a son or grandson of William H?

      • Sharon Butsch Freeland February 19, 2013 at 1:24 am · Reply

        It would most likely have been a son of the founder. William H. Block’s sons were named Meier, Harry, William H., Jr., Rudolph, and Edward. I’m not positive, but I think all were deceased by the 1970s except the youngest, Edward. If the Mr. Block that Kevin knew had a very attractive and somewhat younger wife with a French accent, then it was Edward. Madame Jeanine Sebastian was the French teacher at Park Tudor School before becoming Edward Block’s wife in 1969. Her daughter from her first marriage was my sister’s good friend and sometimes roommate in the ’70s.

        • Kevin February 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm · Reply

          Yes, I believe she had a French accent and WAS very pretty!

  4. Michael February 19, 2013 at 7:56 am · Reply

    Definitely remember the Block’s entrance logo on my mother’s shopping bags and their label in her coat collar. It was fun as a kid in the 70’s and 80’s to go to the downtown store with my parents. I remember being impressed with the art deco escalators at Block’s and they had a clearance department called “Pot Luck”. I still have a ceramic bank in the shape of a Victorian house from there and my pocket change still ends up in it.

  5. Thomas Brown February 19, 2013 at 11:57 am · Reply

    My Momma retired from the store in 1960 after 25 years of service. I never heard her call it anything but Block’s.

  6. Rnate Swope February 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm · Reply

    I was born in Erlangen/ Nuernberg Germany been in Indianapolis since 1970 I remember taking the Bus from Washington Street Down Town and it was always a Day to remember . I have a Bed and Breakfast on Lynhurst drive my house was built in 1930 . I restored and updated the Property in 2005 I would like to be your host for any upcoming Lunchings in the near Future . My Gardencozy seats 35 People.

    Thank you Renate

  7. Dawn Olsen February 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm · Reply

    These are all so very different from the 1898 branding effort. That branding is quite literal; it looks as if one could get a splinter from the very letters. I prefer the more cursive brands, my favorite being the one from 1951. It’s fanciful, and I think it suits the “glamorous” aura for which the mid-century ads were aiming. It’s interesting how the brand was never just “one” thing–it was Block’s and William H. Block, Co. And now the building has a TJ Maxx, right? And I think it is called “The Block.”

    • Tiffany Benedict Berkson February 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm · Reply

      The apartments are called “The Block.” I’ve been lucky enough to have friends live there and gotten to tour the seldom seen spaces throughout the building. You’d love it, Dawn. The art deco escalators are still there- frozen in time. Weird, but cool…

  8. Kathleen Lynch April 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm · Reply

    If I think of the store, it’s William H. Block — but if I’m just telling a friend about a sale, we’re going to Block’s! We used to make the same distinction with L. Strauss, but not, for some illogical quirk, for Ayres!
    Remember the wonderful bridal shows? I was married in the bride’s dress from a show in the mid 1960’s.
    But this article also reminded me of the wartime Block’s. My mother was working in the art department on the top floor. Probably because of labor shortages, they had constructed a playroom there where employees’ children could spend an hour or two in emergencies, surrounded (at a distance) by mannequins and parts of mannequins, display pieces waiting for the right season, and stacks of signage. It must have been 1943 or 1944. I can visualize that floor, and the coffee and sandwich shop on the first floor in the southwest corner where Mr. Quick used to be the manager, but most of the departments have disappeared into oblivion. Thanks for reminding me!

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