1300 Block of Assembly Street
Early Jewish Enterprises
By the late 19th century, this block featured a mix of African American and Jewish-owned businesses. Among the earliest Jews to establish themselves here were Austrian immigrants Henry Steele (1838-1908), a jeweler and the first president of the Tree of Life Congregation, and his wife, Ricca (b. 1851), who ran a general merchandise store at 1328 Assembly Street. By 1904, masonry buildings had replaced earlier wooden structures, and other Jews had opened businesses, including shoe salesman Joseph Levy (1864-1947) and cobblers Barnett (1876-1943) and Abram Berry (b. 1873). In the following decades the next generation of these families opened a variety of other ventures including dry goods, liquor, pawn and Army-Navy stores. Among them was Levy’s son, Moe (1899-1974), who in 1921 opened Moe Levy’s Dry Goods at 1302 Assembly Street. He consolidated his businesses, including a loan department, at this location by 1927, where it remained in operation until 2014.