Steketee's Department Store


Paul G. Steketee immigrated from the Netherlands to Zeeland, Mi at the age of 14 with his father.


"The history of the Steketee organization parallels the history of Grand Rapids and Western Michigan. As the community grew, so this store has grown. For as the community increased in population and purchasing power, and consequently demanded larger and better selections of merchandise, the store responded with larger and better selections, enlarging its facilities from time to time to make room. The present arrangements are the result of constant effort on the part of the management to find out what best pleases the public and to give he public what it desires. The arrangement has been mutually beneficial to public and store".


    Z Z Leyden   






J. H. Doornink established a store at Division and and Monroe. In 1862 he offered a partnership to Paul G. Steketee and the firm became Doornink and Steketee's.

Later occupied by Heystek & Canfield then Porter Block, Herp's, Police Dept, 1 Division Av N



 In 1864 a store was opened in Holland and Paul's brother George was taken in as a third partner.


Then the Grand Rapids store moved to a 20-ft-front building with 850 square feet at what would be later identified as  96 Monroe Ave NW old 67(later Union Bank on the NE corner of Monroe and Ottawa). This property was kept by George Steketee as his interest when he dropped out of the partnership.

After a few years (still 1860's) it was moved to the southeast corner of Monroe and Ionia Ave later occupied by the Home State Bank in 1922.  This was opposite the Catholic Church (Monroe and Ottawa) whose location was used in their advertisements. If Steks moved from the NE corner of Monroe and Ottawa to the SE corner of Monroe and Ionia, it just moved from one side of the Catholic church to the other.


On this map shows the Catholic Church on the west side of Monroe Avenue at the corner of Justice renamed Ottawa.
National Hotel later became the Morton House at the corner of Greenwich renamed Ionia. I have indicated the two approximate locations of Steketees


 Mr Doornink retired and sold his interest in 1872. Mr. Steketee added his sons John P and Peter P in 1878 becoming Paul Steketee and Sons.  Son Don and son-in-law C. Dosker were also involved in the business. They soon built a new building on Fountain Street between Ionia and Ottawa Avenues.  The Monroe side was retail while the rest of the building and upper floors was wholesale.

Paul Steketee sold the Grand Rapids store to Kellogg & Bunn concentrating on the Holland Store. . Then in 1878, after a four- year absence, Paul Steketee  re-entered Grand Rapids with a new store, mostly wholesale, at 100 Monroe Ave (is this the pre-1912 address?) where Central Bank is now (1937) located. (c.1953 SW corner Ionia and Monroe),



By 1885, larger quarters were needed so he purchased a small frontage on Monroe and a larger connecting one on Fountain street between Ionia and Ottawa (This sounds like they just bought back their former building from Kellogg & Bunn), where a part of the present store is located. On these two lots, he constructed connecting buildings, a small one on Monroe for the retail trade and a larger three-story on on Fountain for the wholesale see Bldg # 3 below.

   1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map   

                               The revised map

I have indicated with a W their wholesale building which still stands and
I have indicated with an R where their retail store was probably located.


Michigan Tradesman 1895

By 1899, when Paul Steketee died, the concern purchased two adjacent small stores fronting on Monroe
which I have indicated with two N's the two buildings they probably purchased.

and built a new store  

  At the same time they acquired the entire corner at Fountain and Ionia which I have indicated with New Building

In 1906, a modern four-story bldg which still stands was constructed at the corner of Fountain and Ionia, hereinafter called the Ionia Avenue building which became the wholesale operation. See Bldg #4  below.  In 1913  a forth floor was added. .

GRPL Vertical File

In 1912 Paul J Steketee lived at 31 College Ave NE now across from Central Reform Church


Then in 1916 the 1899 store was replaced.

  See Bldg #2 below             GR Herald

In 1920 two additional stores on Monroe were purchased and remodeled into the Men's Store. In 1940, a new addition to the 1916 building replaced these stores. See Bldg #1 below.


Michigan Tradesman

60th Anniversary

GRP 5 Feb 1922           

                                                     Cleaned up


                                    Page 4




In 1931, the wholesale operation was discontinued.


 In 1940The original three-story building was replaced by a new 40-foot-front building
designed by Robison, Campau and Crowe to match the 1916 building. It was to have a full basement. The basement was to be the boys' wear department, the first floor men's wear, the second floor girls' wear  and the fourth floor was the ladies lounge and beauty salon. See Bldg # 1 below.

In 1945 they celebrated their 84th Anniversary

 In the 1970's it phased out carpeting, furniture, piece goods, sewing goods, then china, gifts and housewares.
It became just a clothing store. 

Centennial Tribute




And after 100 years, Steketee's is out of business. The baby boomers have succeeded in changing the world.
Their mantra: Put yourself first. Buy cheap. Put your neighbor out of work.



                  Historical Commission Pg1, 2, 4

The above information comes mostly from the vertical file (unreferenced clippings of local newspapers or pamphlets) of the Grand Rapids Public Library so the source of  direct quotes, some unmarked, or inferred, can't be identified.


   GRP 1895                              




Building #1

There was no photo of this building  in the assessor's file for Steketees. A little bit is shown in the assessor's photo of Bldg #3.

The entrance was at the corner of Ionia and Fountain. It did not have the appearance of a store but more like an office building.
In 1906 the entire corner was purchased. Apparently it was an extension of a previous purchase that contained the wholesale business.



If this is building B in the Historic Preservation Commission report it is a brick structure with limestone detailing at it's base. The arches are similar to the Union Bank Bldg with brick detailing occurring the upper areas of both buildings.



The Steketee Family lived at 31 College Ave NE across the street from Central Reform Church.



Steketee's had Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse at Christmas.
Mrs. Stewart worked there one year as a helper. She was drunk.

I have tried to impact every source with corrections or comments so everything on this site is copywrited. The information may be used for your project but the source must be cited.

From Heading History and the City of GrandRapids

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Last modified: 08/05/11