Throwback Thursday: Downtown at Durbin’s

Do you ever wonder where we find inspiration for some of our stories? We follow a
Facebook group called “Bowling Green’s by-gone news,” where all kinds of stories
are shared from old newspaper articles. The story of Durbin’s department store in
Downtown Bowling Green came from that group.

For nearly a century, Durbin’s department store thrived in Downtown Bowling
Green, with locations all over Fountain Square throughout its lifetime. Founded in
1898 by J.L. Durbin, with its first location at 417 Park Row, Durbin’s was one of the
best retailers in town when it came to clothing and home goods. The store opened
with a $500 stock value.

The store’s great success within the first six months led to moving to a new location
—the former Potter Opera House on the corner of College and Main Streets. The
store operated at this location for 15 years. Within a couple of months of Durbin’s
moving, the opera house burned.

Claude Isbell, one of the store’s clerks, was able to get help from others around the square to save a lot of the inventory. A makeshift
location was set up on Main Street for a store, just across the street from the Mansard
Hotel, which is where U.S. Bank is now.

When the opera house was rebuilt, the store moved back to College Street. The store
made another move down College Street in 1914, to the space where the Charleston
event venue is now.

According to the 1961 Bowling Green Daily News article we found in this Facebook group, one of the neatest things about the Durbin’s store was how it was family-owned and operated. In 1961, at the time the article was published, the store was still being run by founder J.L. Durbin, his son Joseph L., and his son-in-law Z.A. Nusz.

Downtown Durbin’s closed after the arrival of both shopping malls in Bowling

That’s it for Throwback Thursday, brought to you by Hart County Tourism and the
Kentucky Museum. In Bowling Green, because local matters, Telia Butler, WNKY
News 40.