Bonwit Teller

Bonwit Teller, an exclusive ladies apparel store, was founded by Paul J. Bonwit who, born in Germany in 1862, came to the Unites States in 1883. Bonwit spent time working in Nebraska before returning to New York and joining Rothschild & Company.

In 1897 he partnered with Edmund D. Teller and located their store, Bonwit Teller, in New York at Sixth and 23rd. The store, noted for the quality of its merchandise and the salaries that it paid, would relocate several times including the corner of Fifth Avenue and 38th Street in 1911, and Fifth Avenue and 56th Street in 1930. By 1930, there were also stores in Paris, Philadelphia and London.

In addition to carrying custom made pieces, and French models including duplicates of Lanvin, Patou, Maggy Rouff and Vionnet; Bonwit Teller also sold American garments including those by Nettie Rosenstein.

By 1930, Bonwit Teller was in need of capital, which was brought to the company by Floyd Odlum, who eventually bought Bonwit out in 1934. Hortense Odlum, wife of Floyd Odlum, brought publicity to the department store when in 1938 she was named president, making her the first female president of a major department store in the United States. After 1946, Bonwit Teller had numerous owners including the Hoving Corporation, Genesco, Allied Stores Corporation and lastly the Hooker Corporation in 1987. Bonwit Teller closed permanently in May of 1990 when Donald Trump demolished the Fifth Avenue department store to make way for Trump Tower.


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