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tline3open  William Kerr - JCK 1919

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Author Topic:   William Kerr - JCK 1919
Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 04-26-2019 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
February 5, 1919

Wm. Kerr, 1866
Wm. Kerr & Son, 1919

The history of the jewelry trade in Boston probably does not furnish a more interesting and varied career than that of the business of William Kerr & Son, established in 1855 by William Kerr on Hanover St., then one of the principal jewelry thoroughfares.

The building in which the founder first exhibited his wares for sale has long since disappeared, but its memory is naturally enshrined in the heart of the present principal and owner of the Kerr jewelry concern, Albert R. Kerr, the popular and energetic secretary of the Boston Jewelers' Club, whose activities in this capacity alone have put his name on everyone's lips. Strictly speaking, William Kerr was not a jeweler when he first started in business in Boston. Actually, he was a vender of daguerrotype albums, then in public demand.

Demolition of his original stand compelled William Kerr to move across the street into a small place which was popularly known as "The Hole in the Wall." So diminutive was it that two persons could not pass one another. It was a one-man thoroughfare. Here he em barked in the picture business which he carried on for two years. Then Mr. Kerr moved into a larger store (now 11 Hanover St.), dealing in fancy goods and musical instruments. This developed soon afterward into a regular jewelry store, in point of time a little more than 50 years ago.

At this juncture, Hanover St. was the business location of a notable group of jewelers, among whom were N. G. Wood, George Maynard, E. B. Horn, Captain Seabury and Alvah Skinner. All of these worthies (except George Maynard, a nonagenarian, resident in Waltham) have long since passed away. There was keen but friendly rivalry between these gentlemen and Mr. Kerr, who held his own well and built up a prosperous business. Then in 1876, Mr. Kerr deemed it wise to transfer to Washington St., but unfortunately this proved to be a bad move, the only one in his long career. And so he hurried back to Hanover St., setting himself up at 39, the location of the present business.

It was about this date (to be exact 1S75) that Albert R. Kerr, a bright, energetic, ambitious boy, eager to help his father, made his first acquaintance with the jewelry trade. The boy grew up, and as he developed the business also expanded. Gradualy the father relied more and more on the son until 1906, when William Kerr died, since when, Albert R., or "AL," as he is generally called, assumed complete charge and has maintained it ever since with increasing expansion of custom.

When the British Grenadier Band came from London on the occasion of the Peace Jubilee, William Kerr was treasurer of the reception committee, and when the famous Dan Godfrey band, as it was more generally known, visited Boston, Mr. Kerr was their host. In fact, his was the only private house to entertain these regimental musicians of world-wide fame.

Commenting on the difference between trade 50 years ago and now, Albert R. Kerr says:

"At that time Hanover St. was known as the jewelry center, which enjoyed the trade of the best class of people in Boston. The quality of jewelry we sold in those days was of the highest. Changes in the transportation system and in the residential district came in time, and with them changes in the character of our business. While, of course, we retain a portion of our old-time custom, we also have to deal with a large foreign element of medium class, who naturally do not demand the quality of articles we carried 50 years ago.

"The illumination of stores half a century ago bears no comparison with the brilliancy of today. We did not rely so much upon the attractiveness of the front window to draw trade. The hours of business, too, have changed. Then it was from 7 a. m. to 9 p. m., and in the holiday seasons until 10 and 11 o'clock at night. Today the hours have been reduced, although to some extent we retain the evening trade."

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iconnumber posted 04-27-2019 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting that they stayed open so late.

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