Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Hudson, J.L.

Joseph Lowthian Hudson was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England on October 17, 1846. At the age of 9 he and his family immigrated to Ontario, Canada and soon after they moved to Michigan. In Detroit he began a career in merchandising and established a shop inside the Detroit Opera House that specialized in men’s and boy’s clothing. The store was popular with customers due to its set low process and its return policy. The business began to grow and Hudson added other lines of goods, including women’s clothing and housewares. Hudson also began to employ sale professionals to work the store room floor. In 1891, he incorporated his business as the J.L. Hudson Company, which eventually would become Hudson’s Department Stores.

Hudson was also involved with other Detroit businesses. He provided the seed capital to the Hudson Motor Car Company, which owner Roy D. Chapin named in honor of Hudson. He also worked with the Dime Savings Bank, the Detroit City Gas Company, American Vapor Stove Company, American Exchange National Bank, and Third National Bank of Detroit.

On July 5, 1912 while on a business trip in Europe, J.L. Hudson died from a lung problem. His nephews took over the business and it continued to thrive, becoming one of the largest department stores in the United States at the time.



J.L. Hudson Co. employee composite, with J.L. Hudson in the center, 1889 - 1970.102.001

Hudson's postcard, 1970 - 2012.020.255

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