G.C. Willis Storefront Displays

The G.C. Willis Department store opened its doors in Champaign in 1872. Forty years later, the enterprise moved to an imposing edifice on Main Street.

 It featured 

Two electric elevators, freight and passanger [...] Retiring rooms, coat rooms and locker rooms for employees. Rest rooms and retiring rooms furnished in marble tile for customers. Free parcel checking and telephone service for customers. The fixtures are of solid mahogany and plate glass throughout with five large show windows occupying the entire front and fifty feet of one side. 

The company remained in business at this location until 1959. It is now the site of the News-Gazette building.

Recently, some gorgeous photo negatives of the store's window dressings were discovered in the Champaign County Historical Archives. While an exact date is not known, I would estimate them to be from the 1930s based on the props (S.S. Leviathan and The Olympian posters) and products (Wheary Luggage and Holeproof Hosiery) featured in these photographs.

-Sarah L., Archives Assistant