When I give presentations, I often mention that the John Shillito & Company, which started out as a modest dry-goods store, eventually grew into an emporium, modeled after Bon Marché in Paris, France. The store was built on the “uptown” Seventh and Race Streets location in 1877. At that time, it was the country’s largest department store under one roof, with over a thousand employees, and merchandise from around the world. The store had many modern features, such as electrical lights, steam-operated elevators, and a seven-story atrium rising 120 feet to a 60 foot diameter hexagonal glass skylit rotunda. The full-line department store became known at the time as one of the major sights to be seen in Cincinnati.
People are usually surprised to hear about the skylit rotunda because in more modern years, the atrium had been closed off (similar to closing up a donut hole with floor space) to allow for selling more merchandise.
When the Shillito’s building was turned into The Loft apartments, the atrium was reopened and beautifully restored. See for yourself how lavish the store must have been!