A nod to the past: Stanbridge Master Saddlers

Located in Historic Downtown St Charles Illinois, Stanbridge Master Saddlers opened the doors to its establishment in early 2017. Created by equestrians for equestrians the inventory has been carefully curated for today’s horsemen and women with an emphasis on fine European craftsmanship, fine service, and affordable quality.

Stanbridge Master Saddlers offer saddle checks and saddle fittings by an SMS Master Saddler and Qualified Saddle Fitter as well as in-house tack repairs.

Before Stanbridge Master Saddlers settled into 112 West Main Street this building was the home of Colson's Department Store and Vertical Drop to name a few.  

John Fabian "Foby" Colson was born in Sweden in 1853, and came to St. Charles with his family before his second birthday. Colson worked as a clerk for Charles Anderson at Anderson’s Dry Goods Store, which stood at 24 W. Main Street where he became his business partner. When Anderson died in 1880, Colson retained the business for himself and renamed it Colson's Department Store. In the early 1900s, Colson moved his business to 116 W. Main Street.

During the 1930s, the second floor of the store served as a site for the first local history displays. John Colson's son, Harold, had a large collection of antique photographs and local memorabilia. These formed the core of the collection of the St. Charles History Museum, which Colson established in 1933. A fire on Christmas Day of 1933 destroyed most of the historical relics that had been stored on the second level and much of the store. Colson's Department Store was rebuilt on the same site the following year. The St. Charles History Museum moved into the Municipal Building in 1940.

Over the years Colson's Department Store faced many tragedies. The flood of 1954 caused extensive damage to the store. Another fire in 1975 destroyed the store, and again the owners rebuilt the structure. 

The store remained in the Colson family for over 80 years. John Colson's children worked in the store when they were young and his sons, Harold and Lloyd, continued the family business after their father's death. In 1963, Lloyd sold the store to Marion Greene, marking the end of Colson family ownership of the business.

Marion Greene expanded the store to offer more variety to customers. By 1974, Colson's Department Store had almost 20 departments. Shoppers could purchase everything from clothing to hardware. Following Greene's death in 1978, his widow, Doris Greene (later Doris Greene Pederson), continued to run the store. The business was so successful that two new stores were established, one in Wheaton, and one, for a short time, in DeKalb.

After 112 years in business, Colson's owners decided to close the store. Local residents, many of whom had been longtime customers, were saddened by the passing of this business landmark. By July 1992, the store's going-out-of-business sale was in full swing. Everything from merchandise to racks and mannequins was sold. The Colson's store in Wheaton also closed at this time.

The Vertical Drop, which had been established in 1980 at 219 W. Main Street, moved into the vacant Colson's store. The building was completely renovated in the style of a Colorado ski shop to accommodate winter apparel, ski equipment, and a sports equipment service shop. Later, a snowboard shop was added. During the summers, the Vertical Drop was modified into an outdoor furniture store. The Vertical Drop closed in the spring of 2013.