Harry Fairman (1876-1954) immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1904 with his brother Jake. He later sent for his wife Sarah Rubinrot Fairman (1878-1931). In Pittsburgh, Harry Fairman learned the painting, paperhanging and decorating business at Golomb Paper and Glass on Forbes Avenue in Uptown. The work took him into wealthier neighborhoods in the East End of the city. He would travel by streetcar, carrying his ladder and heavy wallpaper books with him. To keep from getting lost in the unfamiliar neighborhoods, he would cut notches into the trees at his regular stops.
In 1916, Harry and Sarah Fairman opened Fairman Wallpaper & Paint Company, a wholesale and retail business on the first floor of their house at 108 Fullerton Street in the Lower Hill District. Harry was the artist and decorator. Sarah kept the books and ran the store. Unable to read English, she would memorize orders throughout the day and dictate them to her children when they returned home from school in the afternoon. “She was a very elegant lady,” her granddaughter Rochelle Blumenfeld recalled in an oral history. “She liked to go to Kaufmann’s, to the Vendome, and buy beautiful hats.”
Harry and Sarah Fairman had three children, Ben, George and Rose.
Ben Fairman married Ethel Abrams in 1930, George Fairman married Ruth Potter in 1939, and Rose Fairman married Lawrence S. Reznik in 1934. After his wife died, Harry Fairman moved in with Rose and Lawrence Reznik and their daughter Rochelle and later followed the family when they moved to Wellesley and Heth, in Highland Park.
The family attended Beth Hamedrash Hagodol. Harry Fairman served on the board of the congregation during the 1940s. He also served as vice-president of the Pittsburgh District Mizrachi Organization and was a delegate at organization’s national conventions.
In 1923, Fairman Wallpaper & Paint Company moved into a larger building at 114-118 Fullerton Street. After Harry Fairman hurt his back in 1931 while carrying wallpaper to the stockroom, he could no longer hang paper so his children took over the business. They opened a second location on Liberty Avenue in 1939 that closed after two years. Ben Fairman left the company soon after. The Urban Redevelopment Authority purchased the Fullerton property in the late 1950s as part of the initiative to build Chatham Center. The business moved to 1411 Fifth Avenue. In the late 1960s, George and Ruth Fairman discontinued the wholesale side to focus exclusively on retailing.
Their daughter and son-in-law, Frances and Michael Lando, took over the business in 1976. They were an English teacher and corporate lawyer, respectively, and learned the business as they went. They changed the name of the company to Fairman Wall and Window Coverings to represent a changing product selection. In 1993, they purchased the Peerless Wallpaper chain stores and moved the business to Monroeville.