National Register of Historic Places


J. C. Penney Historic District National Historic Landmark

Kemmerer

Date Added to Register

Friday, June 02, 1978

Smithsonian Number

48LN218

Read all about it

The J. C. Penney Historic District is situated near the eastern edge of Kemmerer, Wyoming's business section. James Cash Penney opened his first store, which he named the ''Golden Rule'' in Kemmerer in 1902. By following rigid economies and selling for cash, Penney made substantial profits and eventually established a chain of such stores, which by 1913 were known collectively as the J. C. Penney Company. By 1928, Penney's firm was operating 1, 023 stores and doing an annual business of $176,695,989.14. The secret of Penney's rapid success was the fact the he confined his stores to small communities, refrained from expensive locations, had no fancy fixtures and handled only merchandise that created a general demand. Penney's success in turn spawned a host of imitators. Although several buildings and residences associated with Penney and his company are extant in Utah, Missouri, and New York, the Kemmerer structures are more significant not only because they show the humble origins of the Penney Company, but because it was here that Penney formulated the merchandising ideas which enabled him to create the first truly nationwide department store chain.

Picture on file at the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office

Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources