Bexley History Programs

From Retail to Public Service The Madison’s

by Local History Librarian David

For over a century downtown Columbus was home to numerous clothing retail stores with a common story, they were founded by Jewish immigrants escaping the anti-Semitism of Europe. Simon Lazarus established the Lazarus Department Store in 1851, The Union was opened in 1891 by S. M. Levy, and The Fashion in 1924 by Allen Gundersheimer Sr. Then in 1930 Louis Madison, born in Russia in 1893 and immigrating to Albany, New York in 1903, opened Madison’s.

Madison’s by Kris Harrison via

A success Madison’s, which specialized in women’s fashion and accessories, expanded from its four story building at 72 North High Street to Upper Arlington, Akron, Lima, Mansfield, and at least seven other cities. One year before its founders’ death in 1957, Louis Madison’s son David began working alongside his father. Following in his father’s footsteps, as he was expected to, David became an executive vice president with a clear path to being the corporation’s president, however by 1975 he wanted out of retailing.

In need of a challenge and having grown tired of retailing David Madison built on his eight years of service on the Bexley City Council and ran for mayor. Thirty two years later in 2008, after being elected to and serving eight terms since 1976, Madison retired from the job he loved. By then Madison’s in downtown Columbus had closed, however his legacy was in Bexley. At the community pool that bears his name and in the numerous improvements to the community achieved during his thirty years of service.

Lifelong friend of David Madison and classmate at Columbus Academy, I. David Cohen, will share the story of Madison’s downtown, the Madison family, and Bexley’s former Mayor while discussing his new book, Dreams Can Come True The Merchant Prince of Madison’s at Bexley Public Library on Thursday October, 7 at 2 PM.