Max Eichberg

New York Store, 20-22 West Main Street, Champaign

New York Store, 20-22 West Main Street, Champaign

The Eichberg Building (formerly the New York Store)

The Eichberg Building (formerly the New York Store)

When Eichberg (1839-1908) was twelve years old he traveled from Germany with his two brothers, Lewis and Samuel. They bounced from Logan County, Illinois, to Cincinnati, to Mexico, Missouri where they opened their first wholesale store. Upon arriving in Champaign in 1866, they opened New York Wholesale and Retail, dealing in dry goods and carpets. By 1872, Eichberg’s inventory had grown so large that he built the Eichberg Building at 20-22 Main Street. He continued to operate a dry goods business on the first and second floors, and an Opera House containing 600 seats on the third floor.  

Eichberg’s home on West University Avenue was the site where Ahavat Achim (Brotherly Love), a Jewish memorial society was organized in October 1867 resulting in the purchase of land for the first Jewish cemetery in Champaign County. Eichberg moved to Chicago around 1895 leaving in son-in-law, Benjamin Baer, in charge of the dry goods store now under the name Eichberg & Baer.