Wanamaker's Temple: The Business of Religion in an Iconic Department Store


Product Details

New York University Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Nicole C. Kirk is Frank and Alice Schulman Chair of Unitarian Universalist History and assistant professor at Meadville Lombard Theological School.


"In the history of American religion, the intricate relationship between belief and commerce merits the closest attention. Nicole Kirk provides a richly researched and well organized study of one of the high priests of Protestant wealth. And she makes a wonderful contribution to the understanding of religious material culture and the aesthetics of commodity culture as an integral part of the rise of consumerism and the role that Protestantism has played in it."-David Morgan, Duke University
"John Wanamaker, department-store magnate, was also a stalwart of evangelical Christianity. His innovative entrepreneurialism mixed comfortably with Protestant testimonials, prayer meetings, Sunday school lessons, and philanthropic projects. Carefully unpacking these convergences, Nicole Kirk reveals the art, architecture, and pedagogy of Wanamaker's richly merchandised faith. His Philadelphia store doubled as a temple of refinement and uplift; therein the marriage of consumption and Christianity was sumptuously celebrated. Kirk's vivid rendering allows the reader to feast at that momentous wedding." -Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, Washington University i
"[A] trenchant...study of John Wanamaker and Wanamaker's department stores through the lens of evangelical Protestantism at the turn of the 20th century.... Kirk persuasively shows that Wanamaker's Christian faith and business acumen informed one another within his own life and work." -Publishers Weekly
"The John Wanamaker Department Store was one of America's first great temples of consumption. Nicole C. Kirk argues that [it] was more than a successful business enterprise, it was also a successful ministry. John Wanamaker was as committed to evangelicalism and the social gospel as he was to selling silks and satins."-Marc Levinson, The Wall Street Journal
"But there's more to this story than simply the evolution of retail: from small shops to department stores to online retailers that mirror the selection of retail palaces without the physical space. Nicole C. Kirk's new book Wanamaker's Temple delves into how John Wanamaker's religious and political beliefs shaped his retail empire, which at its peak included 16 stores around the mid-Atlantic region.-Smithsonian.com