History

Jos. Kuhn & Co. is one of the longest continuously operated businesses in all of Central Illinois. In 1865, German Jewish immigrant Joseph Kuhn chose Champaign to start his business because of the area’s agricultural prosperity. Joseph opened his first store, The Emporium, in the center of Champaign’s business section. The town of Champaign had been established a mere 5 years before. As the business grew, Joseph decided to move it to a larger building at 45 Main Street, which was lost to a downtown fire in 1872. The following year, he rebuilt in the same location, calling this new store the Star Clothing House. In 1888, Joseph’s son Isaac joined the business and the store became known as Jos. Kuhn & Son. The business prospered into the next century, enough so that in 1907, Isaac erected the 4-story, 35,000 square-foot building where Jos. Kuhn & Co. still does business today. The centerpiece of the building was an atrium extending from the first to the fourth floor, topped by a stained glass dome. “Unmatched in 118 ½ miles” became the catch phrase/motto of Jos. Kuhn & Co., meaning that distance to nearest major cities (Indianapolis 119 and Chicago slightly farther at 126 miles). This can still be seen on the sides of the building. After over 145 years, the business remains in the Kuhn family.