THE ICON: D.H. Holmes
THE LEGACY: Little Danny Holmes had to grow up quickly. Orphaned at age 2, he entered the working world at age 16, taking a job with a dry goods merchant in his native Ohio. After four years, he headed to New Orleans, where he worked in a dry goods shop in the French Quarter. By the time he was 28, he had learned everything he needed and went into business for himself. D.H. Holmes’ store — one of the nation’s first department stores — started small but would grow to become a New Orleans institution, a Canal Street jewel that was, for some 150 years, a fashionable and friendly shopping destination. It’s not there anymore, having closed in 1989 after being bought by the Dillard’s chain, but “Holmeses” — as many a New Orleanian pronounced it — lives on in the memories of nostalgic locals.
THE ARTIST: Maddie Stratton, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “A merchant prince, a citizen who has played a large part in building the city’s fame, the kindest of employers and the most honorable of men. … (D.H. Holmes’) very name has for years typified the enterprise of the retail trade of New Orleans, and especially of Canal Street.” — The Daily Picayune, in its obituary for D.H. Holmes on July 4, 1898