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Coulter Dry Goods Company records

Identifier: 0008

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).


  • circa 1870s-1960s

Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use


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.


4 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



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.

Finding aid for the Coulter Dry Goods Company records
1996 May 20
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Revision Statements

  • October 2010: Finding aid imported and encoded by Sue Luftschein

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States