Not only is this abandoned building famous for being a former Woolworth’s but the structure itself is pretty historic. According to an etching in the brick wall, this particular block of Niles was a work in progress from 1836 thru 1914. Although some sites claim this section was constructed in 1836, it looks a tad more ‘modern’ (by 1800s standards) than the line of little shops that adjoin directly to the left…those look like those were the ones built in the 1830s – which means the former Woolworth’s could’ve been built anytime from the 1830s to 1914.

So, nitpickers, now that that’s out of the way, here’s some background on that actual hunk o’ brick.

In the 1860s, the building “formerly known as Woolworth’s” - according to Michiana Elevators – included a bakery, book & candy shop, club room, drug store, museum, and restaurant. These businesses were fleeting, and by the 1910s it was mostly empty except for a cigar factory and saloon.

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Along came the 1920s with entertainment and travelers permeating Niles. Therefore, the building was transformed into a forty-room hotel along with an ice cream shop. After the novelty wore off, the hotel permanently closed in 1938. Woolworth’s bought the building that same year and opened for business in 1939.

After a nice decades-long run, the store closed in the 1970s. Since then, the building was used for various shops, including an Office Mart, flea market, Eve’s Ballet studio, The Plant ‘n Pot Shop, Rick’s Che’ American restaurant, exercise gym, and Sargent Oil Portraits.

The businesses who took over after Woolworth’s didn’t do too much renovating, so it’s basically the same, but stripped of all the Woolworth stuff…except for one thing: The big red letters that greet you on the concrete slab at the front door that reads “Woolworth's”.

For that alone, it’s worth the trip. Now take a look and see what it looked like when it was deserted back in 2018!

Abandoned Woolworth Building, Niles


Inside the 1939 Lansing Woolworth 5 & 10 Store

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