Golde’s Department Store, a prime destination during Maplewood’s retail boom years, burned to the ground in 1966. As the now retired Maplewood firefighter, Dewey Eberhardt, had predicted earlier, it was necessary to “fill the basement up with water” in order to put it out.
My co-author, Joyce Cheney writing in “the First one hundred years, Maplewood, MO” (That’s the title, you can check) says, “Some blame ‘the Goldie’s (sic) fire’ for downtown Maplewood’s demise but not so.” It was “the new post war style of living that swept the nation throughout the 1950’s and into the 1960’s-private cars instead of public transportation, shopping malls and the lure of the new suburbs-brought Maplewood out of its heyday.”
Rita Kippenberger, one of Maplewood’s long-lived residents, told me (quite a while ago so I hope I’m remembering correctly) that the fire was started by a lightning strike that hit the front doors and knocked over a cash register. She had been working there as a cashier.
Golde’s never rebuilt their Maplewood store. Instead they relocated farther west on Manchester in the Warson Woods shopping center. The photographic evidence shows a P.N. Hirsch store occupying the site in later years.