The ROOT & MCBRIDE CO. was one of the leading pioneer wholesale dry goods firms in the Midwest. The A.M. Perry & Co., a partnership of 2 local merchants, Ashbel M. Perry and Ralph R. Root, founded the City Mills general store in 1849 on the corner of Superior and Seneca (W. 3rd) streets. In 1857 Root and another local retailer, Edmund P. Morgan, purchased Perry's interest in the store, changing its name to Morgan & Root—the same year Leander McBride was hired as a clerk.
In 1864 Morgan & Root sought to expand the business by including McBride and several others as partners in the company, and by moving to larger quarters at the corner of Frankfort and Bank (W. 6th) streets. The firm, now called Morgan, Root & Co., sold its retail division in 1868 and focused on the wholesale distribution of dry goods and notions, including floor coverings, curtains, blankets, toys, and men's clothing. In the meantime, Leander McBride's brother John joined the company. When Edmund Morgan retired in 1884, the McBride brothers purchased his interest in the rapidly growing business, changed its name to Root & McBride Bros. Co., and moved into a new 6-story building at 1250 W. 6th St. Root & McBride Co. was incorporated in 1895.
In the early 20th century, Leander, John, and Malcolm McBride managed the company well, and in the 1930s was recognized as Cleveland's leading purveyor of wholesale dry goods. On its 100th anniversary in 1949, 150 employees still supplied goods to retail merchants in a 6-state area. However, Root & McBride was unable to survive a recession in the early 1950s. In March 1953, Natl. Investments Co. took over the firm and liquidated it. The company officially went out of business 21 May 1954 and in 1958, its corporate name was sold to Meskin Davis Co., a distributor of surplus stock.
Root & McBride Co. 100 Years, 1849-1949 (1949), WRHS.