WCVB ‘Chronicle’ Viewers Learn About Haverhill’s Little Known Macy’s History

Just right of the tree is Macy’s first store on Merrimack Street in Haverhill.

Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan. (WHAV News file photograph.)

In case you missed it this past Monday, Haverhill City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan told Channel 5’s “Chronicle” program about how the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving parade actually has its roots in downtown Haverhill.

Sullivan took “Chronicle” viewers to a vacant Merrimack Street lot—the site of a future Harbor Place apartment and commercial building—where Rowland H. Macy opened his first store.

“Macy’s first parade was actually started here in Haverhill in 1854 for the fourth of July,” he said.

Sullivan explained why Macy wasn’t as successful as he first hoped. “He also did require people to pay cash and that apparently didn’t go over very well because Haverhill liked to barter so his two stores here would fail. He would go to New York City and the rest is history.”

With Haverhill’s downtown experiencing a resurgence, Sullivan said, he would like retail to come back downtown.

“We hope to bring back some department stores in the future. Maybe even Macy’s,” the councilor said.

According to a WHAV Haverhill Heritage Series article by David Goudsward, Macy opened Haverhill Cheap Store in 1851, eventually occupying a building at 70 Merrimack St. in the newly constructed Granite Block the following year. His landlord was Caleb Duston Hunking, civic leader and prominent shoe manufacturer who operated his shoe business on the three upper floors. The two businessmen became fast friends.

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