n 1845, Isaac Banister joined forces with his son, James Albert Banister, to become expert shoemakers whose legacy of quality endures to this day. Across the globe at the most esteemed juried events, the James A. Banister Company consistently earned gold medals for producing the finest men's shoes in the entire world. Imagine one company having such a distinction nowadays! At fairs and exhibitions located in the world's grandest cities, including exhibitions in: Vienna, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, Paris, Buffalo, St. Louis and Portland, shoes made by took home the highest available awards in multiple categories. The James A. Banister Company brought honor to the city of Newark, New Jersey, to the United States of America, and to the world-at-large with its extensive offerings of exquisitely crafted men's shoes. The impact of the James A. Banister Company on America's history is a rich and an invaluable one.
The JAMES A. BANISTER COMPANY
Presented by Eva Banister
Copyright © 2019, All rights reserved.
My name is Arthur W Banister, the oldest surviving member of the Banister family that founded the Banister Shoe Company. The company was apparently incorporated by my Great Grandfather, James A Banister sometime in the 1850's; however, his father, Isaac Banister, had been making shoes for select customers since about 1830. From the beginning, the focus was on quality, as evidenced by the ads published in the late 1800's and early 1900's. My Grandfather, Arthur C Banister, apparently took over the business in the early 1900's from his father, who died in 1906. The business was voluntarily dissolved on 20 August 1930, probably because my Grandfather was in poor health (he died in 1933). Contributing factors may have been the business outlook in the 1930's and my father's (James H Banister) lack of interest in pursuing it. The Banister shoe name was purchased and repurchased several times, but to the best of my knowledge, no real Banister shoes have been manufactured since 1930.
One of my daughters, Eva Banister, has developed an interest in securing several pairs of Banister shoes and has found numerous ads for Banister shoes from various sources. She may be able to provide additional info if anyone's interested.
-Arthur Williams Banister
The 1930s brought unemployment and deprivation. Many American men were no longer able to outfit themselves in fine attire as they tried desperately to provide for themselves and for their families. These factors, as well as a perfect storm of company-closing conditions, proved to be more than even the finest of shoemakers could weather. Although The Great American Depression (1929 – 1939) and the death of its namesake ultimately spelled the demise of the James A. Banister Company, the name of Banister and its association with the world's finest shoes endures to this day.
In the early 1930s (exact date unknown), Stetson Shoes purchased the James A. Banister Company (1845-1930). Three classic American companies were in operation during concurrent years - Banister Shoes, Stetson Shoes and Stetson Hats. Its production was based in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. Stetson Hats (1865-1970) was founded by John B. (Batterson) Stetson Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thus, the James A. Banister Company was the eldest of these three esteemed establishments.
With the purchase by Stetson Shoes, Banister shoe production was relocated to South Weymouth, Massachusetts, where its building stands to this day. In the Massachusetts factory, Stetson produced its own brand of shoes as well, although not surprisingly, the Banister shoe line was of higher quality and sold at a more substantial price. Fortunately, both the final Banister “manufactory” on Orange Street in Newark, New Jersey, and the Stetson Shoe factory in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, have been preserved - to the great delight of many. It's no wonder Stetson chose to buy the James A. Banister Company for the latter's association with quality.
Sadly, Stetson Shoes succumbed to many of the same forces that shutter even the finest of companies, the James A. Banister Company of shoe crafters notwithstanding. Today, there is a revival in the high-end shoe manufacturing community that is exciting and innovative. Many contemporary shoemakers respectfully pay homage to traditional handicraft shoemaking, for which the James A. Banister Company wrote the proverbial manual.
Please join your host, Eva Banister, as we take a look back at the dreams of a father, his son and their family - my family - and the company they built together. The discerning eye may notice that in all of the advertisements for the James A. Banister Company, the Original Banister Shoes, there are beautiful images of father, Isaac, and son, James A., admiring one another. Truer examples
of love, respect, and devotion would be difficult to find.
Welcome to a great-great-granddaughter's view of the James A. Banister Shoe Company, whose golden history gives us a glimpse into America at its finest, from 1845 - 1930. It is a look back at The House of Banister - those founding fathers who devoted their lives to duty, and whose sterling integrity runs through the veins of the Banister family descendants to this day.
In 2012, Arthur Williams Banister (great-grandson of James A.) provided a personal recollection of The Original Banister Shoes:
International Exhibit - 1876 - Philadelphia
Shoe and Leather Hall