Join  |  Official Historian  |  City of Stamford  |  Blog  |  About Us
Jewish Historical Society  |  Civil War Roundtable  |  Contact Us


Completing Fifty Years in Business.

The Remarkable Half Century Success of Mr. C. O. Miller as Evinced
in the Astonishing Development and Present Prominence of The Miller Store.

From Guide to Nature Magazine, Vol. X. November 1917.

Charles O. Miller

This article is written and these photographs were taken by the editor of this magazine for two reasons: first, personal, to chronicle the astonishing success of Mr. C. O. Miller, a good friend to the Agassiz Association and a hearty cooperator with ARCADIA; second, because we desire to congratulate him on beginning the last year of the half century of a successful business, and particularly upon his celebration of the fiftieth holiday announcement of the opening of this staunch and trust worthy dry goods store.

This magazine stands for local development, for interest in our homes, especially in those that are becoming plentiful and beautiful in the suburbs of Stamford and the surrounding territory. We believe that a store that has taken active interest in all the homes of this vicinity is entitled, aside from any advertising, to a recognition of personal merit. This announcement is not an advertisement. It is not written in the spirit of an advertisement. Whatever results may come from it as an advertisement will be a secondary matter and as a corollary to our personal good intention to say good words of good people who deserve them. If this were an advertisement, we would lay special stress upon the class of goods that the store contains and upon the facilities for supplying its customers, but we mention these only as a necessary incident.

First the editor wishes to congratulate Mr. C. O. Miller upon his ability thoroughly to enjoy life at the age of threescore years and ten. He has through all his life been the exponent of human sympathy, of hearty interest in his fellow beings, of an active worker in church and society, and in financial circles, so that he deserves all the good words that we can give him. He has so many times encouraged others by a hearty greeting and words of good cheer, he has so well embodied all that is best in Stamford and its vicinity that the community would do well to take this as an especial opportunity to imitate his cordiality, to grasp his hand and congratulate him on his personality and his business acumen.

The editor asks as remuneration for his article the pleasure and privilege of saying these things in his own way. That is what he has done and intends to do. He wishes it to be distinctly understood that neither is Mr. Miller nor are any of his associates responsible for any of these statements. It is his right, the editor claims, to express publicly the thoughts that seem to him appropriate at this time, and while he asserts again that his reason for occupying so much space is not primarily to publish an advertisement, he hopes that there may be some pleasing results from this publicity. But what of that? Should not goodness and efficiency be published and published widely in commendatory words? There is plenty of the other thing going around nowadays.

Mr. Miller and his son

Mr. Miller is still actively engaged in the management of his store. He has not laid down the cares of business and evidently does not intend to lay them down for some time to come. He also finds time, as he always has, to devote attention to many things of community uplift and to his home and its surrounding grounds on South Street. It was therefore only right for the editor to urge Mr. C. O. Miller to be photographed in a beautiful and secluded part of his garden. We take much pleasure in publishing that photograph. We are not only giving to all the citizens of Stamford a good photographic souvenir of this well-known man; but we are introducing him to newcomers and to friends in distant places as a hale, hearty, cordial, active business man and a good friend.

Mr. C. O. Miller is fortunate in having a son who has so efficiently taken hold of the business. Mr. C. O. Miller, Jr., graduated from Dartmouth College in the class of 1899 and entered his father's business immediately afterwards. He is Secretary and Treasurer of The C. O. Miller Co., manager of several departments, has charge of the advertising, and assists in the general management of the business. He has inherited the ability and the genial qualities of his father, and everyone who recognizes the value of such a store as a community interest, can but feel glad that the father has such an able cooperator.

Mr. DeCamp

Mr. Frank E. DeCamp has been with the store since 1877, beginning as clerk and is the personification of a devoted and careful business man. He harmonizes well with the cordial spirit of the store. He is ever ready to greet a customer and to see that that customer finds what he wishes to find and is served satisfactorily. In the perfect working of the establishment no little credit is due to Mr. DeCamp.

Mr. Couch

Mr. Oliver H. Couch, the fourth member of the corporation, has been with the store since 1893. He is entitled to liberal credit for faithful work especially in the remarkable growth of the domestic department.

The editor has tried to make clear by aid of his camera some of the store's principal features. The photographs will be better understood by the following condensed description of its general plan. We enter into no extensive commendation of the goods, because everybody knows of the high standard maintained by The C. O. Miller store.

In September, 1868, C. O. Miller at the age of twenty years began business for himself on Main Street in a small store, opposite the Town Hall. He removed in September, 1870, to a new and larger, stand on Washington Place, where he continued until the erection of the fine building on Atlantic Square, in 1882, now occupied by The C. O. Miller Company. His increasing business demanding more room, it was necessary to enlarge the building several times prior to the incorporation of the company. The original space was thirty-five by one hundred and twenty feet with the first floor and basement in use. This later was broadened and extended at the rear and the entire building occupied. In February, 1907, Mr. Miller incorporated the business under the name of The C. O. Miller Company, C. O. Miller, President, and C. O. Miller, Jr., Treasurer, who together with F. E. DeCamp and O. H. Couch form the Board of Directors.

Development of the Building.

In 1916 a radical change was made, The street at the rear was spanned by a bridge thirty feet wide, thirty-two feet in length and two stories high, leading into a new three story building. In this are housed two model departments for the domestic and carpet stocks occupying the second and third floors respectively. In the first floor or basement of the addition are a new heating plant, stock rooms and a shop for upholstering and drapery work. The building now has a total depth of two hundred and fifty feet and a width varying from thirty-five to forty-six feet. In 1916 the old ash fixtures in the main store were largely replaced by new fixtures in mahogany finish, and many new cases and many special display features were added. A new overhead Lamson Electric cash system with drop stations was introduced. The store windows were remodelled and enlarged parquet floors were laid, mahogany and mirror backgrounds installed, tapestry curtains with valance and paneling put up. Other numerous changes were added at this time, all of which have greatly increased the efficiency of the business.

Wide Range of Serviceable Goods.

The C. O. Miller Company endeavors to serve all people. Within its confines are found goods which will appeal to all classes. Nothing is excluded except trash. Goods are cheap not in quality but only in price. The woman with a slender purse or the one with the larger pocketbook can both be satisfied from the superb stock. The business which has been so steadily and consistently built up during a period of fifty years is surpassed by few other establishments of the kind in the state.

Description of Store Arrangement.

Entering the front door we see at the right gloves, laces, dress trimmings in about thirty-five feet of cases lighted by electricity. Then we come to the elevator—Otis Electric—connecting the three floors and the basement. Then follow toilet goods, notions, leather goods, stationery in about seventy-five feet of cases. At the left, hosiery and underwear department, sweaters, Umbrellas—about sixty feet; then follow dress goods and silks, Butterick patterns—about sixty feet.

store entrance
hosiery and underwear department stationary department

In the center, the ribbon department and kindred goods, about seventy feet of cases. Then ladies' neckwear department, furs, etc.; about forty-five feet of cases. Directly under the skylight an area is given to exhibition cases and tables for the display and sale of merchandise from all the departments, special sales, about fifty feet of cases. At the rear of the main floor in the old building is an art department, one of the most attractive in the store, about thirty feet of cases supplemented by tables. Opposite this the building broadens. Here we find a stairway to the second floor, a public telephone booth and store offices extending over the bridge on the south side, covering an area of fifteen by forty feet. Opposite the office on the bridge is the linen department and following this and in the new addition is a large and well appointed array of domestic stock, bedding, etc.

On the Second Floor.

Leaving the elevator at the second floor we enter the center of the department for ladies' ready-made articles and kindred objects. The most modern cases and fixtures protect and display these goods. This department occupies the entire width of store and extends back for about eighty feet, At the front a ladies' rest room has been supplied.

second floor

Beyond the ladies' department is the drapery section with a separate, carpeted area with pole fixtures for displaying the draperies and extending back for about forty feet. Then we arrive at a well equipped luggage department.

We have now come to the new addition on the second floor occupied by the carpet department. In equipment, lighting and general attractiveness this department compares favorably with those in much larger city stores. Rugs are shown on the floor and flat in piles. Linoleums are shown in the roll, on end and facing out. Carpets are shown in the shelves, facing out.

carpet department

On the Third Floor.

Leaving elevator at the third floor we enter the center of the china department. The entire floor is given over to china, bric-a-brac, cut glass, lamps and shades and many kinds of novelties.

third floor

The delivery service is one of the most important features of the store service. An automobile delivery, with from two to four cars, insures the rapid transmission of packages. The delivery system is not confined to Stamford, but reaches out to suburbs—New Canaan, Darien, Sound Beach and Greenwich.


Philosophy and Photographs in a Store, 1912
Development of a Big Store. 1916
Obituaries, 1919
Picturesque Stamford 1892: C.O. Miller
The C.O. Miller Company (Photo Selection of the Month, February/March 2002)
The C.O. Miller Department Store at 15 Bank Street (Photo Selection of the Month, May 2008)

Architectural Rendering for the 1882 Building