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Shelby and William Modell

What Matters Is Family
At This Amazing Exhibit

Story and Photos by Polly Van Raalte

HEN Doris Modell Tipograph invited me to the opening of the Family Matters exhibit at the New York Historical Society, how could I refuse? Of course, Modellís was one of the featured families in this amazing show.

The Hundred Year Association of New York coordinated Family Matters: Century-Old New York City Businesses, under the leadership of Richard A. Cook.

The exhibition features eleven family-owned companies successfully operated for more than a century. Each was founded between 1826 and 1899. They have all contributed greatly to the city.

Mitchell and Robin Modell

Doris is the corporate archivist of Modellís.  Her exhibit was dedicated to the memory of Michael Modell who left us last spring.

In 1882 brothers Morris and George Modell escaped the pogroms of Czarist Russia. They started as peddlers in New York, and then opened a store downtown. They outfitted Teddy Rooseveltís Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War in the 1890s.

Today there are 90 Modellís stores, and yes, I frequent them quite often. In fact, I bought hats for one entire third grade class.

On hand for the exhibit were Doris and Norman Tipograph, Shelby and William Modell, Robin and Mitchell Modell, Abby and Alex Henry Modell, Joan Solomon, and Lewis, Peter and Neil Tipograph.

Doris and Norman Tipograph (left) and
Joan Solomon

Also present were New York Historical Society president Kenneth T. Jackson, Family Business Foundation chairman Arthur D. Levy, J.H. Cohn LLPís Charles Ludmer, and writers Ellen Williams and Steve Radlauer.

Ellen and Steve are writing a book for Little Bookroom, sister company of the New York Review of Books. It will be published in the fall with the title The Historic Shops and Restaurants of New York.

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