Local History: Where Was McCollum Brothers Store Downtown?
Photos and artifacts unlock the history of where the general store was once located.
The corner of Millburn Avenue and Essex Street has always been a bustling center of business in the downtown area.
Herbert Marshall's transcribed, ca. 1970s oral history interview in the collection of the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society notes that his:
"...family shopped in Millburn for meats and groceries...and there were two big grocery stores...really general stores. You could get practically anything in those stores. One was D.J. Mundy and Co., which occupied the property that Kaisers Drug Store is on, and McCollum Brothers, which was on the opposite corner and which is now a dress shop or something. McCollum would call our house or we would call McCollum and tell them what we wanted and it would be taken down over the telephone and delivered."
Kaisers Drug Store was known to be where Gito is today, at the corner of Millburn Avenue and Main Street, so D.J. Mundy's was obviously where Gito is today. That can be further confirmed by the fact that the old Mundy's store building can be seen peeking out above and behind Gito's wrap around, ground level, display windows.
That left, however, three corners on which McCollum's could have been, as Mr. Marshall's story said only that it was "on the opposite corner," but, which one?
For years the exact location of McCollum's remained a mystery until very recently when a high-resolution scan of a tiny 1895 photo of the center of Millburn (see left side of photo here) revealed a sign that said "W.W. & W.E. McC------M." The sign was on the porch of a quaint building opposite what used to be the "Milburn Hotel," which was where Starbucks is now. Mystery solved! The McCollum brothers' store was where Pierre Deux is now at 344 Millburn Avenue. It too can be seen behind the facade that is now the French decorating store.
Two more McCollum items surfaced in the museum collection and crack open the door to the McCollum brothers' Empire Store even further. As we can now see in the 1908 invoice and 1886 newspaper ad here what other sorts of things Herbert Marshall's family could have had delivered by McCollum's.