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Finding aid for the Coulter Dry Goods Company records

1996 May 20

Summary Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
Coulter Dry Goods Company records
Collection no.
circa 1870s-1960s
4.0 Linear feet, 6 boxes
Family history of B. F. Coulter, photographs, business correspondence, clippings; photographs of window and counter displays. The family business was founded in 1878 in Los Angeles and flourished until the 1960s.

Preferred Citation

[Box/folder# or item name], Coulter Dry Goods Company records, Collection no. 0008, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

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Historical note

B. F. Coulter was one of the earliest merchants in Los Angeles. The Coulter Dry Goods Company business dates from 1878 and later was called Coulter's. Coulter was an ordained minister and founded the Broadway Christian Church. The business was continued by B.F. Coulter's son-in-law, R. P. McReynolds, and his son, James McReynolds.


Adventures in Business Vol. V October 31, 1947 No. 14

copyright 1947 by Adventures in Business By Nichols Field Wilson

back to Coulter's Dry Goods Collection

Whether one is a spellbound tourist or a resident ordinarily indifferent to movieland glamour, a tour of the fashionable Wilshire district of Los Angeles proves an electrifying experience.

Conspicuous among the smart shops is the splendid five-floor Coulter Dry Goods Co. at 5600 Wilshire Blvd. Let us leave our sedan in the spacious park and stroll through the store's broad aisles between fascinating displays.

Would you suspect that this ultra-modern 144 x 176-foot emporium had its humble beginnings in a little 18 x 50 foot shop?

Truly, when B. F. Coulter first opened his simple shop in 1878 Los Angeles was just emerging from the Mexican pueblo chrysalis and unfolding its wings as a brisk modern city.

Mr. Coulter started in the place in town suitable for store purposes. Since then the company has thrilled and clothed four generations of Los Angeles womanhood --- maids, clerks, skilled operators, professional women, co-eds, debutantes, and matrons. Coulter's ever has been a store where ladies of fashion and refinement could shop with ease and grace.

At all times Coulter's has led the mercantile development of Southern California --- ever since Mr. Coulter first opened his doors with merchandise worth a thousand dollars on display.

Invariably Coulter's has supplied the best merchandise and adhered to its basic principles of TRUTH, HONESTY and FAIR DEALING.

Constantly Coulter's has grown. Briefly, here are traced the movements and expansions:

1878. The first store (18 x 50 feet) is established at Temple and Spring Streets --- the present site of downtown Federal and Postal buildings.

1879. Larger quarters (20 x 110 feet) are taken in the Baker Block, 332 N. Main St.

1885. Coulter's pioneers to Hollenbeck Hotel Block on Spring Street south of Second; a 60 x 140-foot store.

1892. The firm is incorporated with B. F. Coulter as president and his son Frank (who has been with the firm since 1878) as vice president and general manager.

1898. The company leads city-expansion by moving into a 120-foot frontage on Broadway south of Third Street.

1906. The firm moves into its own three-floor building on Broadway between Second and Third.

1917. The company building takes four floors and occupies a quarter city block at Olive and Seventh Streets.

1928. The Golden Anniversary is celebrated.

1938. Coulter's moves to its present edifice in The Miracle Mile on fashionable Wilshire Boulevard.

Control of ownership and management has always been vested in the immediate family. The three presidents have been B. F. Coulter, his widow (who was his second wife), and his son-in-law, R. P. McReynolds, M.D. The latter married Mr. Coulter's only daughter, Frances--the child of his second marriage. Frank was a son by Mr. Coulter's first marriage.

Before coming West Mr. Coulter sold dry goods in Tennessee. His first western venture was a hardware store. Later he invested in the Coulter Woolen Mills on Figueroa near Fifth (whose waterpowered machinery wove native wool into blankets to be distributed coast to coast) and the Arrowhead Hot Springs Hotel Co. Coulter gave the Arrowhead region its name.

As an ordained minister, Mr. Coulter was founder, pastor, and chief benefactor of the Broadway Church of Christ. He also established thirteen missions.

In spite of its seventy years, the Coulter Dry Goods Co. is not a store of yesterdays. It is a store of tomorrows. It grows, expands,and serves the public with increasingly greater usefulness.

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Scope and Content

This collection includes correspondence, clippings, photographs, family history regarding B. F. Coulter, and the history of a family-owned enterprise (including family portraits, store window displays).

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

USC Libraries Special Collections
1996 May 20
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California, 90089-0189

Revision Description

 Finding aid imported and encoded by Sue Luftschein, October 2010

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use


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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Coulter Dry Goods Company (Los Angeles, Calif.). -- Archives


  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Realia

Geographic Name(s)

  • Los Angeles (Calif.)--Archival resources
  • Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--Archival resources

Personal Name(s)

  • Coulter, B. F., (Benjamin F.), 1832-1911 -- Archives


  • Display of merchandise--Archival resources
  • Retail trade--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources
  • Stores, retail--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources

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Collection Inventory

 Several business letters from various years. Mementos & Business souvenirs. 

Scope and Content

Frances Coulter, daughter of founder, appeared on all company checks around the turn of the century.


 Approx. 25-30 letters to John L. Cooke, Window Display Manager, Coulter's 1920-1935 


 Social invitations, wedding, dinner, etc. 


 Thomas Evans Estate 


 Miscellaneous Correspondence 


 Family Newspaper Clippings: all dates 


 Magazine and Newspaper Clippings: Window Displays 


 Broadway Christian Church 


 Family History and Biography 



Scope and Content

Coulter's Dept. Store-7th & Olive, 1926

Broadway between. 4th & 5th, circa 1900

Spring Street- looking North from 8th St., circa 1900

Main Street Post Office, 1892

North of Broadway from 3rd St.

2nd & Broadway- looking south at 2nd St. can see old City Hall on the left, circa 1890

Opening first electric railway line in Los Angeles, 1886

Temple St. cable railway, circa 1885

Broadway Church decorated for Frances Coulter / R.R. Reynolds wedding, 1908

North on Main from below 2nd St., 1884

Diamond Jubilee display picture, 1953

Southern Pacific Depot & Spring St. Railway, circa 1880

Coulter's Dept. store window - display of Colorfast linings, 5/1/23

Coulter's Dept. store window - display of Fall 1923 dresses

McCall's Pattern Dept. 4/24/23

Spring Opening 1923 (6 various images)

Coulter's Dept. store window - display of Fall 1923 dresses, hats, jewelry, and other miscellaneous items

Men's cut silk neckties, 5/1/23

Men's cut silk bow ties, Fall 1923 (1 of 2)

Nemo Corset Week 1924

Kenwood blankets, 1923, 1925, & 1930 (6 images)

Omar Pearls, 1923 & 1928 (3 images)

Notions dressmakers and supplies, 9/22/23

A mannequin with a white silk jacket and dress, circa 1920

L.A. buildings-Coulter Dept. Store - former site

L.A. buildings-Dept Stores- old Coulter Store (Broadway between 2nd & 3rd)

Holeproof Hosiery, 1925 to 1931 (16 images)

Display of various roll of ribbons (1 of 2)

Jantzen's swimsuit collections, 1930 (1 of 2)

Display of Due Sheer Hose 6/21/30

Display of crib and other baby accessories, circa 1930

Holeproof EXX: The new silk hose for men, circa 1930

Phoenix Sox: A style to meet the preference of every man, 5/12/30

Arrow Trump Shirts, 1928 & 1930 (6 images)

Arrow Aistone Shirts 1929

Ballroom dresses 1929

Sleeveless dresses, Fall 1929

Men's Grad underwear and shorts, June 1929

A picture of Col. Lindoergh on display, circa 1928

Luxite silk lingerie, 3/12/28 (1 of 2)

Horse riding wear and accessories, 1928 (1 of 2)

Grayco Gray's men collections, 1927 & 1928 (2 images)

Diamond Jubilee Display Picture, 1953 of various dresses (13 images)

Dresses with wool coats, circa 1920

Kayser's silk gloves display, 5/16/19

Swimming suits "Knit to Fit", circa 1925

Various women and men eating on to of a haystack, circa 1900-1910

Senior class of Summer 1895

Various fall dresses, 1924 & 1930 (16 images)

Silk gloves, circa 1925

Coulter's linen section, 1927 (1 of 2)

New colors in Holeproof Hosiery, 1927

Men and women standing in front of a train playing various instruments

Theodore Roosevelt & the Rough Riders, copyrighted 1901

A picture of John Edwards 1st U.S. Senator 1748-1837

Jewelry cases, perfume stands, and other women accessories inside Coulter's store with Christmas decorations, Christmas 1949 (6 images)

Purse cases and linen cases with white flower vases along side them in Coulter's store, 1917

Glove and jewelry cases with white flower vases standing alongside and on them in Coulter's store, 1917

Cosmetics and lingerie cases inside Coulter's store, circa 1930

North of Fourth Street, first auto on the street, 1902

Elegant dresses and purses, circa 1930

Men shirts with neck ties, circa 1930 (1 of 2)

Clothing for the perfect getaway to Lake Arrowhead, June 1931

Swimming suits and other accessories for the summer, circa 1930

Various spring dress, 1926 to 1930 (7 images)

Pajamas, circa 11/29/30

New robes, circa 1930 (1 of 2)

Shouldaire sun-suit, 1930

Clothes and jackets for the cold winter, circa 1930

Dresses with mink coats and shawl, 1930 (1 of 2)

Candy dept. inside Coulter's store, 11/17/23

Fashion display featuring Butterfield quality fabrics, circa 1930 (1 of 2)

Kayser's knit under garments, circa 1930

Silk fabric, circa 1930

Dresses with laces, circa spring 1930

Cameron shirts for men, circa 1930

Dresses with matching gloves and purses, circa fall 1923 (1 of 2)

Diamond Jubilee display picture in 1953 of B.F. Dry Goods Store located in Hollenbeck Block southwest corner of Spring and Second

Diamond Jubilee display picture in 1953 of B.F. Dry Goods Store located at the corner of Temple and Spring Streets

Diamond Jubilee display picture in 1953 of Coulter woolen mills at 439 S. Figueroa

Diamond Jubilee display picture in 1953 with a mannequin in a sleeveless spring dress

Cotton printed patterns, 5/19/34

Balkan luggage, 8/3/33

Neckwear and lingerie, 1933

Coulter's desert wear, 1933

Desert resorts wear, 1933

New spring modes, 1933

New printed silk crepes, 1933

Phoenix children's hosiery, 6/7/32

Arrow shirts, May 1931

Father's Day- Ties Day, 6/21/31

Wedding dresses

Cannon towel for the beach, 7/6/31

Queen Make everyday dresses, circa 1925

Blankets, circa 1925 (1 of 2)

Beach wear and accessories, circa 1925

Perfume display, circa 1925

Sports apparel, circa 1925

Winter apparel with matching hats and gloves, 1945 (1 of 2)

Various fabrics on display in Coulter's store, circa 1925

Grayco Cravat's shirt and polka-dot ties for men, circa 1925

Paris garters and suspenders, circa 1925

Grayco Cravat's soft collar shirts, circa 1925

McCall printed patterns, circa 1925 (1 of 2)

Lingerie store, circa 1925

Helena Rubenstein beauty preparation case, circa 1925

Children apparels and accessories store, circa 1925

Pequot sheets and pillow cases, circa 1925

Rolls of various fabric patterns, circa 1925

Beacon's robing, 9/29/24 (2 images)

Fall black sleeveless dresses and hats, circa 1924 (1 of 3)

Black and white dresses, shirts, hats, purses, and other accessories, 2/21/24 (1 of 2)

Pictorial review, circa 1925

Bridesmaids dresses

Spring opening-dresses, 2/21/24 (1 of 3)

White spring dresses, 2/21/24

Londie Blue's collections of women's dresses, 2/21/24 (1 of 3)

A picture of a mannequin with a black lacy dress sitting down on a marble bench

Van Raalte's hosiery, circa 1925

Butterfield Quality fabrics, circa 1925 (2 images)

Women with tailored dresses, circa 1925 (3 images)

Fruit of the Loom shirts, Spring 1926

Various flowery spring hats, 1926 (1 of 2)

Contemporary prints, 3/4/31

Linen and lace cases in Coulter's store with flower vases on top of the cases and along the side, 1917

Flowery fabric with a display of hats, circa 1925

A stack of self-addressed envelopes

Mink scarf and coats, 2/21/24

White lacy dresses with bows tied along the waist, 2/21/24

Two piece dresses with matching handbags and hats, circa 1925

2 piece black dresses with accessories, circa 1930 (1 of 2)

Cool white dresses for the spring, 1927 (1 of 2)

White sleeveless with sparkling embroideries, circa 1925 (1 of 2)

New wool dresses, circa 1930

Hats with flower embroideries and beads, 1926

A mannequin in a sleeveless dress with sparkling embroideries and a shawl, circa 1925

A new collection of mink coats, spring 1927

Various ribbons of all sizes and fabrics, circa 1925

Fall opening dresses, circa 1925

Dresses for all occasion, circa 1925

White flowery dresses that cuddle the body

Spring apparel for the night out, 1926 (4 images)

Black sleeveless with matching jewelry, 1924 (1 of 2)

Home of B.F. Coulter, 219 N. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA(1 of 2)

Children's dresses

The interior of one of Coulter's store with employees standing by the display cases

Opening Coulters Dry Goods Store in Laughlin Building on Broadway

The exterior of Coulters Dry Goods Store

Fall Opening 20th Anniversary 1878-1898

The employees of the Coulters Dry Goods Store (1 of 2)

When Coulter was at 3rd and Broadway (1 of 4)

A side view of Coulter's Dry Goods Store with the display of fabrics

Various linen collars

Salute to the 4th of July

The interior of Coulter's store with employees standing around the fabric display cases

The interior of Coulter's store with employees standing in front of bins of fabrics

The interior of Coulter's store with different fabric patterns lying on top of the counters with employees standing behind them.

Rolls of fabrics lying on top of counters and alongside the walls

20th Anniversary of the opening of Coulter's store

The beads and fabric department inside Coulter's store

Various white fabric patterns lying on top of counters with bins of fabrics and boxes on each side of the store

The Homer Laughlin Building, with Coulter Dry Goods Company on the main floor, 315 South Broadway

The interior of Coulter's store with shelves of boxes contain various materials on each side of the store


 Memorial to B.F. Coulter from his employees 

Scope and Content

6 parchment pages, bound in suede leather encased in cloth bound box, accompanied by two letters: one-from Mrs. A. Coulter to employees Committee-two, from committee to Mrs. Coulter.


 Two program of dedication, Sunday March 20, 1927, Arlington Avenue Christian Church 1927 March 20 


 Four address delivered at the funeral of B.F. Coulter L.A., CA. 1911 October 9 


 Fifteen sermon of B.F. Coulter, Broadway Christian Church 1909 January 3 


 B.F. Coulter "Adventures in business", Oct. 31, 1947, vol. V no. 14 1947 October 31 

Scope and Content

4 copies.


 Coulter Dry Goods Co. 50th Anniversary folders, 1878-1928, Oct. 22-Nov. 5 1878-1928 

Scope and Content

13 copies


 Justice McReynolds dedication 


 75th Anniversary folders 

Scope and Content

11 copies.


 California Stylist magazine, May 1955 issue 1955 May 


 The Holy Bible of John C. McReynolds and Ellen M. McReynolds 


 The Pastor's Record for study, work, appointments, and choir 


 Framed miniature of B.F. Coulter 


 Directory of Christian Church in Los Angeles 


 B.F. Coulter Dry Goods notebook 


 Pocket-size New Testament and the Psalms 


 Pocket-size New Testament 


 Glass paper-weight, picture of B.F. Coulter 

Box Box

 Coulter's 75th Anniversary buttons 

Scope and Content

3 buttons

2 2

 A picture of B.F. Coulter in platinums and carbons 

2 2

 Red leather vest wallets 

Scope and Content

Two wallets.


 B.F. Coulter's family album 


 Frances C. Coulter (about 5 or 6 years old) 


 City resolutions to Coulter's Dry Goods 

Scope and Content

Two resolutions.


 Folio of Historical papers and old newspapers 




 Photo of Hollenbeck Hotel, south-west corner of Second and Spring Streets, built in 1884 

Scope and Content

In 1885 B.F. Coulter opened a 60 x 140 foot store in this building.


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