Jos. Kuhn & Co.

Jos. Kuhn & Co. Cartoon Advertisement

1865 clothing advertisement showing clothes coming express to Kuhn’s in Champaign from New York City.

Jos. Kuhn & Co. Star Clothing Advertisement

Kuhn’s first store, The Emporium, located at 33 Main St., Champaign.

33 E. Main St., Champaign


Jos. Kuhn & Co. was established by Joseph Kuhn, who was born in Germany in 1837. After living near New Orleans, he moved to Champaign in 1865 and established his store, The Emporium, located at 33 Main St. The store was one of the largest in Champaign’s business district and occupied the first floor of the building. Kuhn, his wife, Lena Loeb Kuhn (1843-1906), and son, Isaac Kuhn (1866-1956), lived on the second floor. 

Kuhn's "The College" book (interior)

Kuhn's "The College" book (interior)

With the business district expanding, Kuhn decided to move his store to a larger space at 45 Main St. However, this wooden building was destroyed by fire in 1872. Kuhn reopened in 1873 in a newly constructed two-story brick building with a prominent glass window containing a gold star prompting the new name The Star Clothing House. In 1888, the store’s name changed once again to Jos. Kuhn & Son, in honor of Isaac buying a $400 interest in the store. The store’s final name was not seen until 1907 when it was incorporated as Jos. Kuhn & Co. 

Following Joseph Kuhn’s death in 1915, Isaac gained full control of the business. Isaac remained in charge of the business with help from his son-in-law, attorney B.B. Wiese, until his death in 1956. With Isaac’s death, Wiese assumed control of the store. In 1981, Dr. William D. Youngerman, grandson of Isaac Kuhn, bought the business from B.B. Wiese and Helen Kuhn Wiese, and remains in control to this day (2019).