Maas Brothers was a leading Tampa department store founded by Abe and Isaac Maas in 1887. It grew from a small 23' by 90' dry goods store to a chain of 39 stores across the state of Florida.
Abraham Maas, c1922
Isaac Maas, c1922
|The Maas Brothers Gather Together in Georgia
The building of the Maas empire in Florida begins in Georgia with brothers Solomon Maas (born 1850) & Jacob Maas (born 1848), natives of Dolgesheim, Germany near Hessen-Darmstadt. Solomon and Jacob came to New York in 1870, with nothing in their pockets and not knowing a word of English. For a while they worked there with a German friend , learned a little English and saved a little money. With the south recovering from the Civil War and reconstruction, the cotton market had become a wide market. Sol and Jacob thought this sounded promising and took a train for Cochran, Georgia. Here they opened a general store under the name of Maas Brothers. They sold general merchandise, food stuffs, groceries and feed, and they dealt in cotton. Soon they were a solid part of the small community of cotton-raising farmers.
Abraham Maas, a brother of Sol and
Jacob Maas, was born on May 22, 1855 in Dolgesheim, Germany near
Hessen-Darmstadt. When he was a child in grammar school, he longed to be a
doctor. But before he finished school, his older brothers Jacob and Sol
Maas had left for the US. Abe came to the US at age 20 in 1875 and like many Germans
who came to America at this time, it is said that he came to escape
conscription in the army. His parents, Joseph Maas and
Bacherach Maas, had scraped together
what money they had from their small farm and sent young Abe by steerage to
find freedom and success like Sol and Jacob. Abe joined his brothers and
worked for Sol for 7 years as a traveling salesman and merchant.
With the success of the Cochran store, Sol opened a second store in
Dublin, Georgia which Abe was sent to run. By 1880 Abe had settled in
Dublin, Georgia, not far from Cochran.
Abe's 1880 census in Dublin, GA shows he was single and living in the home of farmer David Ware and his family, along with several other unrelated persons.
|Isaac and Julius Maas
arrive in Cochran, GA
Isaac Maas (b. Sept. 11, 1866 in Dolgesheim, Hessen, Germany) came to the US in 1877 and joined his brothers Solomon Maas and Jacob Maas in Cochran, GA. On Sept. 25, 1881, their youngest brother Julius Maas arrived in the U.S. on the SS Elbe from the port of Bremen, Germany, and joined Solomon, Jacob and Isaac in Cochran, Ga. Isaac and Julius became clerks in the business and learned English and gained experience in business.
Isaac, Solomon and Jacob Maas on the 1880 Census
The Maas Brothers Scatter
In 1881, Sol, who was the helm and rudder of the whole business, was involved in a shooting resulting in paralysis of his legs. Undeterred, he ran the business from a wheelchair until his death due to pneumoniaand with him went his business. The brothers were scattered in all directions.
In 1882, Abe accepted a position as traveling salesman out of Macon, Georgia, and was on the road for 2 years. In 1883, Abe travelled to Cincinnati where he married his childhood sweetheart, a beautiful red-head, the lovely Philabena Wolf, on Sept. 19, 1883. "Bena" was born on March 9, 1863 in Gundesblum, Germany, the 2nd of 10 children of Joseph Wolf and Johanna Maria Koch.
Isaac first moved to Savannah where he operated a dry goods business for a year. He then came to Ocala for a couple of years and operated a millinery shop and in 1885, operated a store selling men's wear, dry goods, and groceries in the Tuscawilla Park district.
Julius moved to Savannah and was listed on Savannah city directories from 1888 through 1897 at 107 E. Jones St, working as a clerk for a wholesale dry goods firm by the name of "Frank & Co."
It is not known who Oscar Maas was, he was living at a different address and was probably unrelated.
Around 1881, Jacob married Addie and went into the wholesale grocery business in Macon, Ga., with S. B. "Daisy" Price, later mayor of Macon. Their business was named Price and Maas. By 1897, Jacob and Addie lived at 802 Cherry and had started J. Maas & Co. and were the proprietors of "The Bazar," a millinery store at 517 Cherry.
|By 1899, Jacob was joined by his brother Julius from Savannah, and the company became "J & J Maas".|
|On the 1900 and 1910 censuses, Jacob was listed as a millinery merchant and proprietor of a millinery store. Jacob died between 1920 and 1930; Addie was a widow on the 1930 census. Jacob and his wife Addie had daughters Regina (b. June 1882, GA) and Edith (b. Oct. 1884, GA). Edith married and divorced by 1930, and had a daughter named Adelade L. Angier.||Below: 1900 Census of Jacob Maas and family at 802 Cherry in Macon, GA. They had been married for 19 years and Addie was the mother of 2 children. Addie was from Pennsylvania with both parents from Germany. Jacob indicates he came to the US in 1870, had lived here for 30 years, was a naturalized citizen and was a merchant in the millinery business.|
Maas Comes To Tampa
On July 4, 1884, Abe and Bena had a son and named him Sol after Abes beloved brother and later they had a daughter named Jessie. In 1886, Abe's business in Dublin, Georgia was far from successful and he decided, like Isaac, to try his luck in Florida. He visited several towns in Florida and decided to open his store in Tampa, which back then was thought to be not much more than a fishing village. However, the railroad had already moved its terminus from Cedar Key to Tampa and the first cigar factory had moved here from Key West. Abe thought that someday Tampa would have a fine port and develop into a big city. He had been quoted as saying to his brother Isaac, "It's a waterfront town. Who knows? It may amount to something someday." Abe loaded his entire inventory into a railroad box car, and from this inventory would soon rise a multi-million dollar empire.
later, Bena told her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sol Maas, "We didn't close at 5, we
closed when the last customer departed and that might be at midnight."
In years to come, when the shop no longer needed her help, she poured her
energy into her cherished project, the Children's Home of Tampa. It then
was supported only one day a year so Bena went from one wholesaler to another
begging for funds. She became the home's president emeritus and
during her 25 years of leadership it was put on a firm, progressive
Abe & Bena Maas' 1900 census in Tampa shows they were living at 508 Marion St, near Madison St, with their children Solomon and Jessie. Abe owned the home free of mortgage.
|On April 13, 1887, Abe and Bena had a daughter, Jessica "Jessie" Maas.
(Jessie married Jules Winston, a New York jewelry merchant who was never affiliated
The Maas family circa 1891, Tampa
L to R: Solomon Maas, Abraham Maas, Philabena Wolf Maas, Jessie Maas
Isaac Maas Joins Abe in Tampa
Attracted by the promise of Tampa, Isaac moved here from Ocala in 1887, bringing a handful of hats and ribbons from his Ocala shop. He formally joined his brother in business on September 15, 1887. Abe sent out notices to all his customers and ran ads in the newspaper announcing "My brother Isaac has joined me, and the business henceforth will be conducted under the name of Maas Brothers."
|In 1895, the brothers pooled their resources and were able to arrange to bring their 15-year-old cousin Ernest Maas (b. Nov. 6, 1880, Dolgesheim) from Germany. He arrived on the SS Trave from the port of Bremen on Sept. 15, 1895 and promptly came to Tampa. Abe put him to work as a porter in the shop and his main job was to drive a two wheel cart and pony to deliver goods. Ernest could not speak a word of English.|
1910 Census, Tampa
Fredericka "Ricka" Maas, Sister of Abe & Isaac
Above: The 1900 Census of Tampa shows Ernest and Isaac Maas (lines 79 & 80) living at 221 Hyde Park Ave. in the household of Benjamin and Ricka Brown (lines 75 & 76). Ricka was Fredericka Maas, sister of the Maas brothers. Ernest and Isaac were both single. Ernest's listing shows he was born in 1878 and immigrated in 1889, but this is incorrect, possibly information provided by someone else in the household. Ernest's application for a passport in 1905 and future censuses indicate 1895. Ernest was a clerk in a dry goods store and Isaac was a dry goods merchant. Relationships were to be given with respect to the head of house; Ernest and Isaac were listed as cousin and brother, indicating that Ricka may have provided the information for this listing.
Left: Fredericka Maas, sister of Abe and Isaac Maas, around the time of her marriage, circa 1888. She married Benjamin A. Brown, postmaster at Bartow. Ricka and her husband Benjamin Brown had sons David Maas Brown (b.1891) and Joseph T. Brown (b.1896) as seen in the above census record image.
Right: David Maas
Brown, circa 1895,
David married Esther Elson in 1918 and they had a son, David Maas Brown, Jr. (b. circa 1919) and a daughter named Ricka E. Brown (b. circa 1925). This family lived in Lakeland.
Left: David Maas Brown, Jr. with his mother Esther Elson Brown (middle), 1923. Woman at right is Annie Samuels of unknown relationship.
Right: Navy ensign David Maas Brown, Jr, 1945, served in the Pacific aboard the USS Livingston.
The Wolf Brothers, Morris
and Fred Wolf
Morris C. Wolf was born Mar. 16, 1871 and Fred W. Wolf was born Aug. 26, 1873 in Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. In 1883 they came to the US with their parents, Joseph and Hannah Wolf, locating in Louisville, KY where their mother died on Nov. 11, 1898. Morris secured a position in a clothing store at Greenville, OH by his uncle, Michael Wolf of Cincinnati. Morris was only 12 years old at the time and his compensation was $1.50 per week, besides board and clothes. He spent a year and a half at this concern, and though he did not profit monetarily, he gained valuable experience. The ensuing 8 years he was in Louisville, KY, variously employed, but chiefly as a clerk in the dry goods store of his uncle Samuel Jacobs. In 1893 he came to Tampa, where his brother Fred had preceded him in 1889. The brothers were familiar with Tampa due to their father having spent some time here for the benefit of the weather for his health. Fred had spent some time in school and graduated as a clerk in a store.
After Morris' arrival in Tampa, the brothers were employed with their brothers-in-law, the Maas brothers, until 1898 when Morris Wolf resigned and embarked in business for himself with the scant capital of $200. His location was half of a small business room near the corner of Franklin & LaFayette. On Feb. 17, 1899 he moved to the next door and in March of the same year, Fed Wolf resigned from Maas Brothers and entered into partnership with his brother. This was the beginning of the prosperous business of Wolf Brothers. In March of 1901, they moved to fine quarters at 808-810 Franklin St. where they sold men's fine clothing and furnishings. Fred married Thekla Strauss of Louisville, KY, in 1898 and they had a sons Joseph L. Wolf and Harold S. Wolf. Morris married Caroline Baer around 1912 and had children Bernice, Mildred & Dolly.
|The Wolf bros. and sisters
L to R:
Maas and Wolf family, 1917
Morris' wife Caroline Baer
M. Henry Cohen
Morris and his family lived at 901 S. Delaware
Front row: Marcus Cohen,
Johanna Cohen (m. Mr. Goldberg) - children of M. Henry and Julia Wolf
Cohen; Bernice Wolf (m. Mr. Harris) and Mildred Wolf (m. Mr.
Weischelbaum), children of Morris and Caroline Wolf.
The Wolf brothers in their new store at 808 Franklin Street, circa 1920s.
Wolf Bros. at 808 Franklin St., March, 1932
|The Second Maas Bros. Store
By 1898, the Dry Goods Palace had outgrown its space, so the Maas brothers moved their business from the small Palace store at Franklin & Twiggs to two, 50 ft. x 90 ft. floors of the Krause Building on the southeast corner of Franklin and Zack streets.
In 1907, Maas Brothers was incorporated and Abe became its president.
Julius Maas, the youngest Maas brother, also had a store at the 700 block of Franklin St., which in 1902 sold clothing and men's furnishings as "Maas the Haberdasher."
The Maas family and employees in front of the Krause bldg store, circa 1898.
Maas Bros. in the Krause building with American National Bank across Franklin St., circa 1910
Photo from Tampa: The Early Years, by Robt. J. Kaiser
Above photo shows a World War 1 Fourth of July Liberty parade in 1918 on Franklin St., looking north toward the intersection of Franklin and Twiggs St. The original Palace Dry Goods in the Field Building was located between the 2nd & 3rd lamp posts from the right, at the corner of Franklin and Twiggs. The large painted Maas Bros sign is the Krause Building on the southeast corner of the 600 block of Franklin St., at Zack, where Maas moved into in 1898. The tower-like building with pointed roof to the left of it is on the north side of Zack Street, and the building just beyond that (to the north) is where Julius Maas operated his haberdashery, on the 700 block of Franklin St.. The next building to the north of the Julius Maas' store is where the Tampa Theatre was built in 1926.
Maas Brothers ad in Rinaldi's Guide Book of Tampa and South Florida, 1920
During the 23 years in the Krause building, the dry
goods business expanded and the
Maas brothers added more product lines to their
inventory, which included ready-to-wear clothing, furniture, and carpeting.
1920 - Construction of the new 8-story Maas Bros. store and the offices of the Florida Citrus Exchange building (far right of photo at 201 Twiggs) as seen from the intersection of Zack and Tampa St. The American National Bank bldg. can be seen to the left of the construction site, and the Krause bldg. can be seen across Franklin St. at the far left of this photo.
|In 1920, Maas Brothers
purchased the American National Bank Building across Franklin St.,
which was built in 1904, and contracted the construction of a new
eight story building. Construction began
in 1920 on the new 8-story tower at the southeast corner of Zack and
Tampa Street adjacent to the four-story American National Bank
building. The store, known as "the big store", opened in October
1921. The expansion of Maas Brothers, its
acquisition of lands and buildings continued unabated.
The business acumen and untiring energy of Isaac Maas was instrumental in the growth of the business from 1,100 square feet to 25,000 square feet; from a sales force of three to more than 100, from capital of $625 to $250,000; from one of the smallest to the largest exclusive ladies furnishing goods houses in the state.
|Above: Maas Bros. store circa 1922 in the former American National Bank building, built in 1904, and the newly built 8-story building at Zack and Tampa St.. Photo at right shows mid 1920s and two floors added to the American National Bank building. See a night photo in color of this building circa 1956 with neon sign lit up.|
|Maas Brothers delivery trucks, 1925|
The Maas Brothers Sell to Hahn Department Stores
By 1929, Maas Bros. had become Florida's largest department store south of Jacksonville. Maas Brothers dominated Florida's West Coast and was known as "Greater Tampa's Greatest Store." That year, Abe and Isaac sold their interests in the store to the Hahn Department Stores but continued on as president and chairman of the board, respectively. Maas Brothers gained the buying power of 28 department stores while Hahn gained the addition of another successful chain with a loyal customer base. In 1935, Hahn Department Stores changed its name to Allied Stores Corporation. Despite being owned by a national company, Maas Brothers was still operated by the Maas family.
Maas Bros. delivery trucks parked on the Tampa Street side of Maas Bros. department store. Oct. 1935
First National Bank building at far right
This 1895 fire insurance map of Tampa has been modified to show various locations of the Maas stores.
1. The Field building (blue) where Abe Maas opened his dry goods Palace.
2. The location of the Krause Bldg. (green)
3. The location of the American National Bank Building.
4. The newest location, 8-story building that also housed the Citrus Exchange.
J. Julius Maas' store
Click map to view larger
Photo above left shows the east side of the 700 block of Franklin St. in 1926 while the Tampa Theatre building was being constructed. See the stores that were demolished to build Tampa Theatre. Julius Maas' store was in the building just to the right of it.
|This is the Krause building in 1925 after the Maas brothers moved across Franklin St. to the former American National Bank Building and their new 8 story building they shared with the Citrus Exchange. Signage indicates "Maas Clothier and Haberdasher". This is the southeast corner of Franklin & Zack, at 621 Franklin St. Notice the Exchange Bank Building at the far right and the Federal Courthouse on Florida Avenue on the far left.||Place your cursor on the photo at left to see the Franklin Exchange Plaza that was the location of the Krause building.|
In the 1950s, the Krause building became the location of Liggett's Drug Store, having moved from the northeast corner of Twiggs and Franklin Street, and Haber's Dept. Store, .
The southeast corner of Franklin St. and Zack Street, Sept. 18, 1953.
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library
During the 1920s, Isaac Maas was secretary and general manager of Maas
Bros. He was also vice-president of the Citizens-American Bank & Trust
Co., and was interested and closely identified with other leading Tampa
concerns. He was a Shriner, a Mason, an Elk, a Rotarian, a member of the
Tampa Yacht and Country Club, and other organizations. During WW1, he
took a very active part in conducting Liberty Loan and other war work
campaigns. He was intensely patriotic and progressive and never failed
to respond to a call for work or financial assistance to a good cause.
Isaac traveled extensively and made several tours of Europe. He was a
patron of fine arts and owned a valuable collection of paintings and statuary.
Issac Maas remained single until late in life, marrying Fanny Blouenstein of Washington, DC on Oct. 9, 1924. He died on March 8, 1935 at age 72, leaving no children. At the time, he was serving as chairman of the board of Maas Bros. Abe Maas, who was president, became chairman, and their nephew, Jerome Waterman, became president.
|Abe Maas was always active in public affairs in Tampa and was recognized as one of the most valuable citizens movements for the advancement of Tampa. He was a member of the Tampa Board of Trade (predecessor to the Tampa Chamber of Commerce) since 1886 and a director of it for all that period with the exception of one year. In early 1900, Abe Maas was the founder of the Tampa Lodge of Elks and was affectionately spoken of as the "father of the lodge." He was the first member initiated into the lodge, Cardholder #1 and its first Exalted Ruler of Tampa Lodge #708. He was largely instrumental in the building of the handsome Elks home at Florida Avenue between Lafayette and Madison St. Besides being president of Maas Bros., he was vice-president of the Morris Plan Bank, a director in the National City Bank, the Bank of West Tampa and the Thompson Cigar Company. He was also one of the first directors of what was known as the Old People's Home.|
He was measurer of the Hillsborough Lodge of Masons for 26 years and for
25 years was president of the Jewish Congregation Schaarai Zedek. He was
a prominent member of the Shriners, the Knights of Pythias and charter member of the Rocky
Point Golf Club. He was active and influential in the various WW1
activities and in the 1920s served a second time as chairman of the European
Relief campaign in Tampa, raising funds for the starving children of
distressed countries. Abe was also an owner of the Floridan Hotel, built in
1927, along with prominent residents Tampa residents T.N. Henderson and
On Friday evening, June 6, 1941, Abe left the store feeling fine. He attended the high school graduation of his grandson but later at home, Abe became very ill. As the evening progressed, Abe's health declined. Finally, at two o'clock, Saturday morning on June 7, 1941, Abe died at the age of 86.
Bena Wolf Maas died on June 22, 1947 in Tampa, she was one of the founders of the Children's Home and was its president for 25 years. During her long residence here she engaged in many other charitable and welfare projects, undertaking most of them anonymously. She always took an active part in the Community Chest and other civic and benevolent projects. Many older residents remember her going from door to door throughout the city in appeals for Tampa orphans. She was the last surviving charter member of the Order of Eastern Star here.
Solomon Maas, son of Abe and Bena Maas
Sol Maas was born in Dublin, Georgia on July 4, 1884 and came to Tampa with his parents in 1886. After graduating from the University of Florida, he became affiliated with Maas Brothers and took an active part in various civic undertakings in Tampa. In 1922 he was department manager of Maas Bros. and served in various capacities at the department store before becoming secretary in 1933. Besides being secretary of the department store, he was president of Maas Realty Company and a director of Morris Plan bank. He was a member of Temple Schaaral Zedek, the Elks, Masons, and Shrine. Sol had been in ill health since he suffered a stroke in 1943 and had gone to North Carolina with his wife to spend the summer. He died September 21, 1944 of a stroke at Patton Memorial Hospital, Hendersonville, NC.
Abe & Bena's daughter, Jessie, married Jules Winston of New Rochelle, NY. Mr. Winston was in the jewelry business of the firm Andrews & Winston, 5th Ave., NY.
Sol Maas and wife Julia, whose nickname was "Blizzard" because she was born in one, had two children, daughter Frances, and Joseph Morton Maas of Decatur, GA.
Joseph M. Maas was born December 3, 1922 in Tampa, FL and married Myree Elizabeth Wells
of Stone Mountain, GA. They met working at Rich's Department Store. A
graduate of Agnes Scott, Myree Wells was his boss in the handbags department,
wrote articles on fashion in magazines, and was a buyer who traveled to NY.
Once married, she left her job. They eventually invested in a few of the first
Casual Corner stores for which she did the window displays. Joe served in the United States Army
Air Corps in World War II, and later graduated from Georgia Tech in 1947. He
worked in the retail clothing business his entire career and owned Casual
Corner stores in Decatur. He was an active member of the Decatur Kiwanis Club.
Joe and Myree had 2 children, a son and daughter.
Abe's daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sol (Julia Cahn) Maas, remembered Abe as a humble man. "He never seemed to realize his importance to the country nor what he had accomplished. He never was a snob. He was Uncle Abe to everyone. Isaac was aristocratic and restrained. I do not think that Abe expected my husband to become associated with Maas. Sol was a graduate of Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago and came to Tampa as an electrical engineer with the Tampa Electric Co. Ultimately, he joined Maas and was put in charge of merchandising of the small ware departments. Later he was elected secretary and treasurer of Maas Realty and was its president when he died. Maas Realty became known as Maas Beneficiaries."
Mrs. Ashby (Emily) Moody, granddaughter of Abe, was born in Tampa to Jules Winston and Jessie Maas, the only daughter of Abe and Bena. Emily had charming recollections of the elder Maases. "Grandfather was a darling, he was gruff on the outside but all mush on the inside. He was the leader of the family and the worst fall guy in the world. Besides his own family, he brought many Jews to this country during Hitler's regime. He spent much money to help them get a new start in life. He also contributed generously to the Sacred Heart Catholic church in Tampa. My mother was very pretty. When she visited the Maas store, everyone would stop working and talk to her because she was so cute. I was her only child." Emily and her husband Ashby owned an antique shop which they named "Grandma's Place." It was the old homestead of Abe and Bena Maas.
Abe Maas and family, 1915
Left to right
In front: Emily Winston, daughter of Jessie Maas and Jules Winston
Emily married Ashby Moody
From 1910 through 1930, Abe and Bena Maas lived at 601 South Blvd at Horatio St.
the Maas Cousin
Ernest Maas, Abe and Isaac's cousin, had a daughter named Audrey Louise Maas who
married Mark Shine.
Mr. Shine owned Kirbys Men's Wear in Tampa. He and Audrey had three
children--Stephen, Martin and Barbara.
Ernest Maas came to Tampa in 1895 and was 15 when he began working for his cousins Abe and Isaac Maas; he earned 25c a week. Ernest lived in the store, he cleaned it, opened and closed it. He also drove a two-wheel cart pulled by a pony to make deliveries to customers. Family lore was that he promised to teach German to some of his fellow deliverymen if they would teach him how to speak English.
Within three months, he was speaking English and soon afterward, he was handling customers from behind the counter at Maas Bros. on Franklin Street. Eventually, he became the buyer in the ready-to-wear department. In 1910, the successful 30-year-old was well-established in Tampa religious and fraternal circles. That January he married Maude Alice Baer of Washington, D.C.
As the years passed, Ernest Maas Sr. became a director of Maas Bros. and expanded his role in Tampa civic life. He was active in the Tampa Elks Lodge, serving as exalted ruler and later as president. He was also president of the Tampa Merchants Association.
Ernest helped organize the University of Tampa and served as treasurer in its early years. He was chairman of the Young Men's Hebrew Association, a forerunner of the Jewish Community Center.
Audrey remembered her father, Ernest Sr., as a tall, handsome man with a sharp business sense. "He was with Maas until 1929 when it sold out to Allied Stores at which time he opened a ladies ready-to-wear store, Ernest Maas, Inc., at 509 Tampa Street, where the Redwood Restaurant later stood." The Spain Restaurant and Toma Bar are located in the three-story building today.
In the early 1930s, Ernest was Deputy District Governor of the Lions Club of Tampa. In 1936 he received the Tampa Civitan Club's Citizen of the Year award for his role in organizing a fundraising drive that saved Boy Scout Camp Owen Brorein. A Tampa Morning Tribune editorial called it "largely a one-man job." In 1938 Maas, Jr. served as Exalted Ruler of Tampa Elks Lodge #708.
In 1937, Ernest Maas joined with cousins Julius Maas and Julius Weil, who owned Maas the Haberdasher. The combined store opened at Franklin and Madison Street.
Ernest Maas remained active in the business until he sold his interest in Weil-Maas in 1946. By then he was fighting cancer. He died on Sept. 17, 1947, at age 66.
In addition to his daughter Audrey, Ernest Maas had a son on Nov. 4, 1910, Ernest Maas, Jr. In the late 1930s and 1940s, he served as a Chief Clerk commodity pricing specialist for the district OPA (Office of Price Administration) in Tampa. He and his wife Mary Virginia, a native of Nebraska, had a daughter Melinda in Tampa. Ernest Maas, Jr., died Feb. 27, 1995.
|Ernest Maas 1910 Census, 234 Hyde Park Ave, Tampa|
|Ernest Maas married Maude A. Baer in 1910, their 1910 census shows they were married "0" years and Maude had no children yet. Maude was born in Washington DC, her father was French from Alsace-Loraine, and her mother from Maryland. Ernest and Maude were renting this home. Note Ernest's immigration year of 1895|
|Ernest Maas 1920 Census, 835 S. Edison Ave, Tampa|
|Ernest and Maude Maas owned this home on S. Edison Ave, clear of mortgage. Ernest's immigration year is listed as 1895 and naturalized 1900. Their son Ernest Jr. was 9 and their daughter Audrey was 9 mos. They also had a 23 yr old servant, Florence Curley.|
|Ernest Maas 1930 Census, 817 S. Edison Ave, Tampa|
|Ernest & Maude Maas in their
home at 817 S. Edison Ave, which they owned. Along with their
children, there is Ernest's mother-in-law, Fannie Baer, widowed, age
70, and a female servant Antomese Holsey.
Ernest & Maude Maas, along with their son and daughter, and Fanny Baer, are listed on the 1935 Florida State Census at the same address. They are at the same location on the 1945 Fla. State Census, except Ernest Jr. and Fanny are not listed there.
This 1911 photo of Franklin St. looking north
from Zack shows Julius Maas the Haberdasher (far left) was originally on the west
side of Franklin St on the north side of Zack.
By 1926 Maas moved across the street into the building 2nd from the right.
Julius Maas clothier/haberdashery on Franklin St., 1927. Note the Tampa Theater Building at the left edge.
|"Maas the Haberdasher" in downtown Tampa on the east side of Franklin St. A nephew, Julius Weil, was also with Julius as a salesman in the early days. The stores combined and its name, to avoid confusion, was changed to Weil-Maas.|
In 1937, Julius and Ernest united in business and moved into this building. "Maas the Haberdasher" at 516 Franklin St. on the SW corner of Twiggs.
Ernest Sr. died in 1947 after having sold his part of Weil-Maas the year before.
|This building was destroyed in a fire on June 28, 1951. A new building was built for Madison Drugs which later became Walgreens. It is now stores and offices.|
The Maas Sisters
Mrs. Isaac (Rosa) Hyman was a niece of the older generation of Maas brothers. Her home was the mecca for the Maas sisters who came to the U.S. The widowed Rosa lived with Audrey for many years as did Rosa's mother, Betty Maas Weil, another Maas sister.
Other sisters of Abe, Isaac, Julius, Sol and Jacob Maas were Fredericke "Ricka" Maas and Henrietta Maas. Sisters Regina and Caroline remained in Europe.
|Good-hearted Henrietta Maas
(b.1857) came from Germany in 1875 to keep house for her
bachelor brothers during their first struggles in Cochran, Georgia. Ten
miles away in Hawkinsville, GA, lived Morris and Henry Waterman, operators of
a livery stable. Each week Morris would travel by horse and buggy to
court the lovely Henrietta Maas. They married in 1881 and had four
children, one of whom was Jerome A. Waterman, born in 1883 in Georgia, who became a giant figure and
business wizard in the Maas empire.
Henrietta Maas and husband Morris Waterman with their children, circa 1891.
From left to right: Unknown child, Henrietta Maas Waterman, Joseph S. Waterman, Maurice (Morris) Waterman, Regena Waterman (in front of Maurice), Jerome A. Waterman
Photo courtesy of Jerelyn Spross Fyvolent, granddaughter of Joseph S. Waterman.
After Jerome's father died, his mother Henrietta wanted Jerome to come to Tampa to live near his uncles, Abe, Isaac and Julius. They urged him to join the firm, and in 1907 he started as an assistant bookkeeper. He worked day and night and learned all phases of the operation, having just about every job there was in the store. This was of great value to him later in the development and modernization of Maas. Jerome became president of Maas Brothers in 1935 upon the death of Isaac Maas who was then serving as chairman of the board. Abe took Isaac's position and Jerome took Abe's position. His office was on the 8th floor of the downtown Tampa store; a wonderful place filled with books, family pictures, huge files of newspaper clippings, his own beautiful poems and writings, and his awards in frames and on the shelves.
Jerome recounted some memorable times. One of the first things he did
was establish a "one-price policy" in the store. Same price for every
customer. The next day, a customer came in to buy 10 yards of black
peau-de-soie priced at $2.50 a yard. (It took 10 yards to make a dress
in those days.) She offered $20.
Waterman refused to sell, saying "We have just one price to everybody; we sell as cheaply as possible and treat everyone the same.
|The lady said "I'll go elsewhere" and out she swished. Abe told Jerome, "Now you see, we've lost a sale!" Jerome told him that she would be back because their price was right. And back she came within an hour and paid the $25. Afterward, Abe never doubted the "One Price" policy.|
Another thing that bothered Jerome was the exorbitant comparative values
used in advertising, such as "Worth $6 a yard, only $1.98." Jerome told
Abe it was impossible to build a business on misrepresentation and exaggerated
comparison. Jerome said, "One day I came to work and found all the
paraphernalia Abe used for advertising--paper, eraser, crayons, dumped on my
desk with a cryptic note, 'You are so blankety-blank smart, from now on, YOU
are advertising manager.'"
|See photo gallery links at the end of this page to view many more interior photos of Maas Brothers from the 1920s to 1960s and Wolf Brothers as well.|
Jerome incorporated into his new advertising policy, an inspirational column he wrote to run alongside regular Sunday ads. Known as "My Column," its non-commercial approach became so popular the newspaper quit charging him for the space. It ran for 12 years until he joined the Air Corps in WWII. Upon his return from service, he collected his most helpful items and published them in a book called "An Inspiration a Day."
|Jerome Waterman, far right, seated next
to his uncle Isaac Maas. Circa 1930s
Others are reported to be Julius Maas (on the left), Sol Maas and Julia "Blizzard" Maas (wife of Sol Maas)
Jerome was one of the first businessmen in Florida who learned to fly. His early lessons were taken at Drew Field and his pilot's license is signed by Orville Wright. During National Air Mail Week in 1936, he was commissioned for a day to fly mail from Plant City to Tampa. He organized Gulf Airlines which later merged with National Airlines, and became the advisory director of National. Waterman was also instrumental in the building of many of Tampa's fine theatres.
|As a family man, Waterman allowed nothing to come between him and his
daughters, Regena and Cecile, not even his business. His wife, Daisy
whose passion was helping the blind, died in 1945 of cancer at age 49.
Ten years later, the [Daisy G. Waterman] Lighthouse for the Blind
opened. In 1971, the organization changed its name from the
Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind
to the Hillsborough
County Association for the Blind .
But its building, at 1106 W Platt St., still bears Waterman's name. Jerome was father and mother to his girls. Regina
married Stephen Bragin and Cecile married Marvin Essrig. Jerome's
grandchildren are Lee, Marvin and Kathy Essrig, and Janet Lee Bragin.
In 1948, Maas Brothers opened its first full line branch store in downtown St. Petersburg. Other branch stores opened in downtown Lakeland in 1954, downtown Sarasota in 1956, downtown Clearwater in 1961 and one in Ft. Myers. Maas Brothers opened its first mall store, in 1965, in the Edison Mall.
Jerome Waterman hosting a Maas Brothers fashion show "Fashionolia", 1947
Maas Bros at
Westshore Plaza, circa 1980s During Jerome Waterman's tenure with Maas, he saw the organization grow
from one store in Tampa to 17 stores in Florida, and sales increased from $1.2
million in 1929 to an excess of $50 million in 1966.
In 1966, Jerome was a magnetic, versatile and lovable
man of 82 and was still chairman of the board of Maas Brothers. He was
at the time, with the organization for 50 years, 23 of them as president.
He died in Tampa in May of 1970, at age 86. Jerome A. Waterman, 1965
Maas Bros at Westshore Plaza, circa 1980s
During Jerome Waterman's tenure with Maas, he saw the organization grow from one store in Tampa to 17 stores in Florida, and sales increased from $1.2 million in 1929 to an excess of $50 million in 1966. In 1966, Jerome was a magnetic, versatile and lovable man of 82 and was still chairman of the board of Maas Brothers. He was at the time, with the organization for 50 years, 23 of them as president. He died in Tampa in May of 1970, at age 86.
Jerome A. Waterman, 1965
Abe Maas, the penniless lad who sat in the puffing train on the way to join his brothers in Cochran, GA, would never have imagined he was on his way to founding a multi-million dollar empire such as this.
Maas Bros. home furnishings store at 4130 Gandy Blvd. - 1957
Maas Brothers Charge-A-Plate and leather pouch from the 1950s, front and back views. Name & address digitally distorted for privacy.
|In 1986, Maas Brothers celebrated its 100th anniversary. It was in the same year that Canadian real estate developer Robert Campeau completed his takeover of Allied Stores Corporation. As part of liquidation and cost cutting, Maas Brothers was consolidated with the weaker Jordan Marsh Florida franchise on Florida's East Coast in 1987 (Allied's Jordan Marsh had expanded from New England in 1956, later forming a separate Allied division). The plan was that the stronger Maas Brothers would help the weaker Jordan Marsh. This brought the total number of combined stores to 39 throughout Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.||In 1988, Campeau launched a successful takeover battle with Macy's for Federated Department Stores. Ironically, Federated would acquire Macy's in 1994. With the acquisition of Federated, Maas Brothers' formal rival, Miami-based Burdines, became its sister store. As with the Allied acquisition, in order to cut costs, several back office operations for Maas Brothers, Jordan Marsh, and Burdines were consolidated.|
By 1989, Federated and Allied were struggling to make its debt payments
incurred from the takeovers. On January 16, 1990, Federated and Allied filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Several underperforming stores were closed,
including the flagship downtown Tampa store in February 1991.
"It affects me emotionally," not
businesswise, said Fred Wolf, manager of Wolf Bros. "I'm part of the
family." As part of its
plan of reorganization, the Florida operations would be consolidated and
several stores would be closed. The Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh headquarters
was closed and consolidated with Burdines in July 1991. On October 20, 1991,
the Maas Brothers stores officially became Burdines. The majority of the
former Jordan Marsh stores were sold off since they competed with Burdines.
Burdines, along with the other Federated division except Bloomingdales, would
be converted to Macy's.
|The last sales staff at Maas
Brothers downtown in 1991.
Photo courtesy of Megan Weber, seen on the left in green blouse.
Move your cursor on the photo to see the names of others.
After the store closed, the
89-year-old building sat abandoned as downtown withered. People haggled
over whether to refurbish it, but condo developers who originally bought
it to restore the building instead decided to build a 33-story condo.
The old Maas Brothers building was demolished in late March of 2006.
The building in the forefront was built in 1904 and was the American National Bank before Maas took it over. It originally had only 4 floors; the top 2 floors were added on in the 1920s. The taller building on the right was built in 1920 for Maas and was also home to the Florida Citrus Exchange offices.
|In 2006, the lot sold for $11 million. The high-rise condo project never left the ground, and ICI Shopping Centres bought the lot in December 2009 for $2.7 million. Once it's completed, the old Maas Bros. site will be downtown's latest parking lot, accessible from Zack, Tampa and Twiggs streets to open in July 2010. Seven One Seven Parking Enterprises will operate the lot. Jason Accardi, president of the parking company, said he is in discussion with TECO Energy Inc. to feature charging stations for electric vehicles. Ultimately, the lot will be sold or redeveloped.|
The lot where Maas Bros once stood. The former site of the Krause building is off camera to the left.
Be sure to visit "Maas Brothers Recollections", a 2006 TBO.com article that contains Maas Brothers shopping memories from various readers.
Downtown Tampa Store Directory
Men's Shop Men's Furnishings Men's Sport Shirts Men's Sweaters Men's Sportswear Gear Shop Boys' Shop Gear Shop
Second Floor of Fashion
Former Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh Florida stores
Georgia - Savannah
The Maas family tree at Ancestry.com, by Anna Maas
Biography of Abraham and Isaac Maas Memoirs of Florida, Volume 2, 1902
Memoirs of Florida, Vol II, 1902, The Wolf Brothers
City Times "Enduring House of Maas Appeals"
Maas Brothers at Wikipedia
Jewish Virtual Library (Wolf Bros info)
City of Ocala "Tuscawilla Park Historic District"
Homes of Sol Maas and Morris Wolf
An Immigrant's Life In Tampa, (Ernest Maas) by Leland Hawes
The Department Store Museum
Maas Family memorials
State Library & Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Photographic Collection
Anna & Ben Maas, family photo collection, Martin-Maas family
tree at ancestry.com
Maas Brothers photo collection at Flickr, Jeff Lourde