Solomon and Fannie Bernstein

Great Western Clothing Store

The southwest corner of Main and Market Streets faced the Illinois Central Station, and in 1862 was Champaign’s most active business district. The first floor housed the Great Western Clothing Store owned by Sol Bernstein; the second floor held the law office of M. Garst; and the third housed the Masonic Lodge.  

Sol Bernstein Clothing Advertisement

J.S. Lothrop's Champaign County Directory 1870-1871

The first Jewish resident to permanently settle in Urbana, Solomon Bernstein (1831-1906) came from Cincinnati, Ohio in 1854. Upon arrival he immediately set-up a clothing business. Born in Germany in 1831, he immigrated with his family at the age of thirteen to the United States. The family initially settled in Baltimore, Maryland, before moving westward to Cincinnati.  

Bernstein married Fannie Wertheimer (1837-1906) in her hometown of Cincinnati in 1855. The couple returned to Urbana where they made their home and business until they moved to Champaign in 1865 and opened a clothing store at 41 Main Street. The Bernsteins left Champaign County in 1875 settling in Napoleon, Ohio until a son’s death returned them to Urbana where they remained until their deaths.  

Their daughter Addie married Nathan H. Cohen and had three sons: Sidney, Sol, and Julius. The Cohens were a musical family and were active in the local musical clubs and amateur theater circles entertaining Jewish and Christian groups alike.