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Postcard image courtesy James E. Casto Opened in 1912, the Zenner-Bradshaw Department Store was destroyed by fire in 1925.

Editor's note: This is the 138th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON - In 1912, Henry Zenner and George D. Bradshaw leased a beautiful white-columned building in the 900 block of 4th Avenue that housed the Biggs-Wilson Dry Goods Co. The two men said they would be changing the name of the store to the Zenner-Bradshaw Co.

Zenner-Bradshaw was one of the city's leading department stores until Dec. 16, 1925, when it was destroyed in an early-morning fire.

Buildings next to the department store were heavily damaged by smoke and water as 60 firefighters battled the blaze. Amid fears that the fire might spread, night clerks at the nearby Frederick and Florentine hotels roused their guests and urged them to leave their rooms. They joined a crowd of onlookers that ultimately numbered in the hundreds.

Once the flames were extinguished, only the two-story building's front wall was left standing. Damage was estimated at $400,000, including $250,000 worth of merchandise, much of it especially purchased for the Christmas shopping season.

The firm immediately announced plans to rebuild, but that didn't happen. Instead, the former store and other adjacent structures were razed to make way for construction of the Keith-Albee Theater, which opened in 1928.

George Bradshaw would still have a long career in local retailing. After the fire, he spent a year negotiating the necessary insurance settlements and liquidating the Zenner-Bradshaw Co. He then was invited to join the McMahon-Diehl Co. He became its president, and the department store's name was changed to Bradshaw-Diehl.

Bradshaw-Diehl closed in 1971 after its building at 3rd Avenue and 10th Street was acquired and demolished by the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority.

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