Straus, family of American merchants, public officials, and philanthropists. Isidor Straus, 1845-1912, b. Rhenish Bavaria, emigrated (1854) with his brothers to the United States in order to join their father, Lazarus Straus, who had already settled in Talbotton, Ga. The family moved (1865) to New York City, and there Isidor took a large part in forming and directing the importing firm of L. Straus & Sons. Isidor, with his brother Nathan, became associated with R. H. Macy & Company in 1874, became a partner in 1888, and by 1896 had acquired ownership of the firm. As a Representative (1894-95) in the U.S. Congress, Isidor aided in drafting nonprotectionist tariff legislation. He later devoted his attention to philanthropy and reform. He and his wife were lost when the Titanic sank. His brother Nathan Straus, 1848-1931, b. Rhenish Bavaria, joined Isidor in business but was especially outstanding for his philanthropy. He established pasteurization stations to supply sanitary milk to the poor, made his milk stations relief depots in the Panic of 1893, and was a leader in the field of child health. He was a prominent Zionist leader and contributed generously to the general improvement of conditions in Palestine. Another brother, Oscar Solomon Straus, 1850-1926, b. Rhenish Bavaria, grad. Columbia (B.A., 1871; LL.B., 1873), was a diplomat and author. He practiced law in New York City until 1881 and then went into business with his brothers. He was minister to Turkey (1887-89) under President Grover Cleveland and again (1898-1900) under William McKinley and was ambassador to Turkey (1909-10) under William H. Taft. He was appointed (1902) to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Hague Tribunal) and was (1906-9) Secretary of Commerce and Labor under Theodore Roosevelt. He was candidate for governor of New York on the Progressive party ticket in 1912. He wrote several books, including Roger Williams (1894), The American Spirit (1913), and Under Four Administrations (1922). A son of Isidor Straus, Jesse Isidor Straus, 1872-1936, b. New York City, grad. Harvard, 1893, became president of R. H. Macy & Company in 1919 and served (1933-36) as ambassador to France. Nathan Straus, 1889-1961, b. New York City, son of the elder Nathan Straus, was a journalist and public official. He served (1921-26) in the New York state legislature and headed (1937-42) the U.S. Housing Authority. He wrote Seven Myths of Housing (1944) and Two Thirds of a Nation (1952). Family members ran the company until 1968, and the family held a large block of shares in the company until 1985, when the department store chain was sold in a leveraged buyout to a group of Macy's executives.
Straus, Oscar, 1870-1954, Austrian composer; studied in Vienna and with Max Bruch in Berlin. After a brief career as conductor he turned entirely to composition. His operas and instrumental works are eclipsed by his successful operettas, particularly A Waltz Dream (1907) and The Chocolate Soldier (1908; based on G. B. Shaw's Arms and the Man). During the early 1930s Straus wrote scores for films in Hollywood. In 1939 he became a French citizen, and in 1940 he moved to the United States.
Kaufman-Straus was a local department store that operated in Louisville, Kentucky from 1879 to 1969. In 1879, local retail clerk Henry Kaufman opened the first store on Jefferson between 7th and 8th. Four years later, Benjamin Straus entered into partnership with Kaufman. In 1887, the Kaufman-Straus store moved to South 4th Street in space leased from the Polytechnic Society of Kentucky. The new flagship store opened in 1903, at 533-49 South 4th Street, designed by local architect Mason Maury. In 1924, Kaufman-Straus was acquired by City Stores Company and the following year the flagship store underwent extensive renovations. City Stores rebranded the company as Kaufman's in 1960. It operated two stores in suburban Louisville at The Mall and Dixie Manor. In 1969, Kaufman's was acquired by L. S. Ayres, and the downtown Louisville store was subsequently closed in 1971. The flagship store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Louisville - 427-437 S. 4th St. (opened 1903, became L. S. Ayres 1969, then Ayr-Way, closed)