42-46 West 38th St.
42-46 W. 38 St. between 5th Ave. and 6th Ave. (2005)

A long stretch down the east wall of 42-46 West 38th St. in the Millinery District includes 9 signs, top to bottom:

S. Schiller, Ladies Hats was located here from 1917 to 1922. (Click for ad from 1919.) Solomon Schiller was born in the District of Columbia, Nov. 1871. He appears in the 1900 U. S. Census living on East 51st St. in New York, occupation "Millinery, Whole[sale]." He had his own business from around 1903 to 1908, then was in partnership with Abraham Smith (Schiller & Smith on West Houston St.) until around 1916. Abraham Smith was born in Russia ca. 1873/73, immigrated to the U. S. ca. 1890/95, and was a partner at the Nemo Hat Co. (1916-1938) after his assocation with Solomon Schiller. S. Schiller, Ladies Hats moved to W. 36th St. 1922/23, then went out of business around 1925.


When Samuel Feldman registered for the World War I draft in 1917, he was 28 years old, he lived at 745 Riverside Drive in New York, and he gave his birth date as 10 July 1888. Place of birth was "Galicia Austria" and occupation was "hat frames, self, 42 West 38th St. NYC." Prior to World War I Austria controlled an area of what is now southern Poland that was known as Galicia. Krakow is a well known city in this region. After World War II Galicia was divided between Poland and the Ukraine. The U. S. Census of 1920 indicates Feldman immigrated in 1899 and that he became a naturalized citizen in 1917. The business made customized hat frames, used by milliners to manufacture hats. S. Feldman & Co. was founded around 1908, was located at 42-46 W. 38th St. from 1917 to 1922/23, and stayed in business next door at 48 W. 38th St. from 1923 to 1931.


Active Hat Works was a partnership between Arthur and Ralph Wellerson (the business was at times called Wellerson Bros). Arthur Wellerson (1889-1979) and Ralph Wellerson (1892-1971) have the distinction of appearing twice in the U. S. Census of 1900: first as "inmates" at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, Amsterdam Ave. at 137th St., and also as children living at home with their mother, Lena Wellerson, downtown on the East Side. Possibly, they spent time in both places in 1900. Lena Wellerson immigrated from Russia in 1895, and lived as a widow with her 7 living children (ages 5 to 20) at 202 Madison St. in 1900. Lena was a milliner and passed the profession down to several of her offspring. Another son was Gabriel Wellerson (1893-1979) who registered for the World War I draft as "Salesman, Active Hat Works, 173 Delancey St." Active Hat Works came late to 42-46 W. 38th St. Initially located downtown on Delancey St. (click for ad from 1921) from 1916 to 1921, they occupied two other buildings on W. 38th St. from 1921 to 1926 (click for ad from 1923) , then moved to 42-46 W. 38th in 1926. The stay here was short: the business closed in 1928. In 1942 Arthur Wellerson registered for the World War II draft at the age of 53 while living in the Bronx and employed at the Sunset Hat Works, 23 W. 38th St. Gabriel Wellerson registered for the same draft age 47, but gave no place of employment.


Notice appeared in the New York Times 25 May 1917 of a new incorporation: Modish Hat Co., Inc. Manhattan, to "manufacture ladies' hats and accessories." Officers were Lew Jones, Max Berg and S. Berk. A listing for this company appeared in the New York Telephone Co. Manhattan directory for 1917: "Modish Hat Co Inc 42 W 38 [telephone] Greeley 1620." But there was no subsequent listing. Apparently Modish Hat lasted only the one year...


Between Active Hat Works and Modish Hat Co. one can make out the word LEVINSKI in black letters (click for image). There is overpainting in white obscuring the black lettering for Levinski, but the smaller black letters below Levinski spell out Corporation. This would seem to be the remains of a sign reading Gross, Levinski Corporation. Gross, Levinski Corp. manufactured ladies hats, and they were located here during the brief period of 1923 to 1925. This company was located for a longer time in the building to the west, 48-56 W. 38th St. (1917 to 1922). (Click for ad from 1919.)

Gross, Levinski were Morris Gross (1865-?), 2 of Morris Gross's sons, Philip Goldstein Gross (1888-1953) and Harold Goldstein Gross (1889-1975), Louis Levinski (1870-1925) and his son, Herbert Levinski (1898-?). The sons were native New Yorkers. The fathers were immigrants. Morris Gross, born Austria, immigrated 1888. Louis Levinski, born Germany, immigrated 1873. Philip G. Gross and Harold G. Gross were both born with the surname Goldstein, and adopted their step-father's name when their mother, Pauline Levinski (1865-1945), remarried. Pauline Levinski's first husband was Samuel Goldstein (ca.1867-1892). Very possibly she was a sister to Louis Levinski. Marian Scheuer Sofaer, a granddaughter of Philip G. Gross, writes that her aunt, Peggy Lazarus (one of Philip Gross's three daughters), remembered Pauline Levinski as "quite a millinery expert herself, as well as a good business woman." Marian also wrote to confirm that Pauline's first husband was Samuel Goldstein.

Louis Levinski had a millinery business downtown on the East Side on Division St. from around 1903 to 1916. Gross, Levinski was formed in 1917. Both families were also in business as the Herbert Textile Co., dealers in silks and velvets. Herbert Textile was located at both 42 W. 38th St. and 48 W. 38th St. from around 1917 to 1924. The name presumably referred to Herbert Levinski.

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