For those who have lived in South Portland for a lifetime, the hole left by the closing of Stuart’s Men’s Shop can still be felt. There has never seemed to be a store like that since, where if you just want to go and pick out a tie or a shirt, you need go no further than Knightville.

Let’s take a look at Stuart’s Men’s Shop and its longtime founder and proprietor, Louie Gordon.

Portrait of Louis Gordon in 1938. South Portland Historical Society photo

Louis “Louie” Gordon was born in Bath, Maine, in 1909; he was the son of Russian immigrants, Samuel Gordon and Rosie Tepper. The family was very proud of their Jewish heritage. Samuel was a grocer; he became ill and died in 1921 at the age of only 49. Louie was only 12 years old when his father died. His mother Rosie moved the family to Portland where Louie and his siblings attended school. Louie graduated from Portland High School in 1927.

He first worked in a men’s clothing store when he was 16 years old – at Livingston’s on Congress Street. He then worked as a sales clerk at M.A. Sulkowitch Co. on Fore Street for over a decade. That company sold a variety of products, from men’s clothing to paint and hardware.

Louie married Annabelle Tabachnick in 1938. They had two children: Joseph and Olivia. They first lived in Portland, but later moved to South Portland where they purchased the home at 189 Mussey St. in 1951. The Gordons were active members of the Shaarey Tphiloh synagogue in Portland.

In 1941, Louie had the opportunity to join his older brothers, Myer and Abe, in their men’s clothing business, Gordon’s Men’s Shop in Monument Square. He decided instead to go it on his own. Louie founded Stuart’s Men’s Shop in a storefront in the Knightville neighborhood of South Portland. Since his brothers were already doing business under the name Gordon, he chose to use the middle name of his son Joseph, Stuart. In later years, Louie’s brother Abe came and worked at Stuart’s Men’s Shop.


Stuart’s Men’s Shop was located on Ocean Street for 52 years. In this image from 1986 when public works was repaving the street, the sign for Stuart’s Men’s Shop can be seen on the left. South Portland Historical Society photo

Louie Gordon had a lot of experience selling men’s clothing, so he was a natural at this business. He opened his shop in 1941 at 97 Ocean St., in what is known as the Richards Block, next to Smaha’s Legion Square Market. He remained in that storefront until 1958 when he moved to the other side of Smaha’s. His new location, at 103 Ocean St., had previously been home to First National Stores. In his new space, Louie had twice the floor space of his original location so he could expand his inventory and displays.

As his daughter grew up, Olivia “Livie” Gordon worked in the store. After she married Stanley Lieberman, her husband also came to work in the store.

Stuart’s Men’s Shop carried a full line of men’s clothing. It was a very popular store for back-to-school clothes shopping.

Mike Hill remembers Louie fondly: “Louie Gordon was such a kind man. My parents had an account there and when I was a child, I was allowed to shop there by myself because they knew he would take care of me … He told me he was color blind but could still tell what clothes looked good together. We always parked out back and used the rear entrance … Once I said ‘Merry Christmas’ and then said I’m sorry. He said, ‘Don’t be sorry, Merry Christmas to you!’ It’s strange the things you remember from 60 years ago. I can still hear his laugh, see his face and smile.”

An interior view of Stuart’s Men’s Shop at 103 Ocean St. in 1958. South Portland Historical Society photo

Paul Doak remembers going to the shop with his mother, Stella, to buy shoes when he was around 10 years old. One of the interesting things he remembered seeing there was a fluoroscope, an X-ray shoe-fitting machine. When you stood on it, you could look through an opening to see your feet right through your shoes.

While it was an interesting way to see how your foot fit in the shoe, use of fluoroscopes was later abandoned due to the exposure to harmful radiation, especially for the people who worked in the store and received regular exposure.


Bradford Norris began working at Stuart’s when he was a junior in high school and worked there all the way through college: “Jud Bean was my brother’s best friend and helped me get a job. Mr. Gordon (as I always called him) allowed me to set my working schedule around my college classes … I was long-haired and we disagreed on almost everything, but he always respected me and the respect was mutual. Jud and I would go to Boston fashion exhibits with him and he let us pick out next year’s fashions to sell. How cool is that at age 19! … I received my bachelor’s degree, but learned more about running a small business from him than any classroom.”

A lot of locals have fond memories of Jud Bean working as a store manager at Stuart’s. Charles “Jud” Bean worked at the store for about 15 years, starting when he was still in high school. He would later go on to become an attorney and operated his law practice on Ocean Street.

A 1980 advertisement for Stuart’s Men’s Shop that appeared in the Evening Express. South Portland Historical Society

Known for his pleasing tenor voice, Louie Gordon greatly enjoyed singing throughout his lifetime. He would sing at work and in many other venues. After singing in the Glee Club at Portland High School, he continued singing with a national, Jewish fraternity, Phi Delta Mu. He was a member and past-president of the Portland Men’s Singing Club. He also sang with the Portland Community Chorus, South Portland Community Chorus, Portland Symphony Chorus, and the Portland Polyphonic Society. He was a member of the Hiram Lodge of Masons in South Portland – and sang with the Brotherhood Lodge, the Scottish Rite, and Kora Shrine Chanters. He also sang in the choir at his synagogue, Shaarey Tphiloh.

Louie Gordon retired in 1993 after 52 years of running his landmark Stuart’s Men’s Shop in South Portland. He died in 1998 and is buried with his wife Annabelle at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Portland. Although he has been gone for over 25 years, his kindness is still remembered by many today.

Tour at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Oct. 21

On Saturday, Oct. 21, South Portland Historical Society Executive Director Kathy DiPhilippo will offer a walking tour at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Meeting House Hill. She will talk about South Portland’s history and the many well-known South Portlanders who are buried in this cemetery that dates back to 1734. The tour will take place at 11 a.m. The tour costs $10 for current historical society members; $25 for non-members. Registration is required. Call 767-7299 to register or contact the society by email at The rain date for the tour is Oct. 28.

A shoe-fitting fluoroscope, commonly used in shoe stores in the 1930s-1950s; the machines were later abandoned due to safety concerns about radiation exposure. Courtesy image

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo ie executive director of the South Portland Historical Society. She can be reached at

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