The University of Newcastle has launched an oral history of the Store building, which was demolished last year to make way for a transport interchange and two 30-storey residential towers.
Developer Doma Group financed the project through the university's Vera Deacon Regional History Fund, which employed a team of students to collect and digitise the memories of past employees and community members with a link to the Hunter Street landmark.
The university's GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab at the Auchmuty Library helped produce the oral history.
The heritage Store building's demolition prompted criticism last year from the National Trust's Hunter spokesman, Keith Parsons.
The university's living histories director, Ann Hardy, said the 20 people who shared their stories about the Store for the oral history had expressed a mix of views about the building's demise.
"Some of the interviewees say, 'Oh, well, it had earthquake damage, it's gone,' and were not too fussed with the actual building not being there," Dr Hardy said.
"Some people do have an opinion, but basically most of the interviewees got back to the important thing about the Store was the people, the connections, the friendships."
Doma project manager Sean Kearney said the company was proud to support the oral history, which is curated on a website. Recognising the former building's history was one of the company's conditions of consent for the redevelopment.
"While development helps our city move forward, we must respect our heritage," Mr Kearney said.
"Doma is planning a number of projects to record the history of The Store site in addition to these oral histories. We have preserved artefacts from the site and will include interpretive artwork on the site."
The collection includes video interviews, newspaper clippings, photographs and musical recordings from a time when the Store had a staff choir.
The Newcastle and Suburban Co-operative Society Ltd was established in 1898 and the building opened eight years later at the west end of Hunter Street.
At its peak in 1974 the cooperative operated 15 other retail branches, had 98,000 members and employeed 1450 people. It sold groceries, retail goods and services, including a health fund, funeral fund, travel agency, credit union and barber shop.
It was the biggest and most successful cooperative society in Australia, but competition from suburban shopping centres brought about its closure in 1981.
"The closure of The Store left a lasting impact upon many people in the Newcastle community," Dr Hardy said.
"There are so many rich and wonderful stories to tell of a place that really was a central hub in our city, and, in the wake of the former Hunter Street site being renewed, the University of Newcastle is proud to be able to play a role in keeping this unique part of Newcastle's history alive."
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