The son of German immigrants, George H. Knollenberg had worked for several years in retail before he opened his own store in 1866 at the age of 19. His first store, seen at left, was then listed as 319 Main, but after the renumbering in 1880, it became 809 Main, the same location it occupied throughout its long history.

The business was successful enough that Knollenberg needed a new larger building. The one pictured at right was constructed in 1877. Note the horse-drawn street car in the image at right.

Read about the advertising sign that was buried during the construction

In 1888, Knollenberg expanded again, adding the building adjoining to the east. The George H. Knollenberg Company was incorporated in 1893.

His last major addition was the 1896 Annex, the three-story building that connected to the rear of the previous buildings and faced Eighth St.

Knollenberg’s Department Store was a Richmond institution until the 1990s when competition from large chain stores drove it out of business. It closed in 1995.

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