New Mirror House exhibit focuses on fashion history, local women
Remember the name of 111 N. Potomac St. stylist and apparel shop owner, Mary Condon?
The latest exhibit at Miller House features originals by Mary Condon. Delicate floral prints of the 1930s voile her evening in her evening gown, with whimsical ruffled sleeves and her full tiered skirt. This dress is a small thread in the history of Washington County, where businesswomen and apparel shops thrived in the early 20th century.
The Mary Condon Style Shop operated from the 1920s until 1946. She lived with her family in North Her Mulberry Street and she worked as a stenographer at WD Byron & Sons Tannery. In 1924 she married a local doctor, David H. Condon. She then opened the Mary She Condon Style Shop and provided dressing to women in Washington County for about 25 years.
In the 1930s, Condon hosted style shows and advertised her styling services in the Daily Mail and The Morning Herald. She traveled to New York frequently and returned in fresh, seasonal fashion, and she hosted local bridal parties at her 1934 melon, lavender, and aqua dresses worn by Anna F. Deal’s bridesmaids. Decorated with colorful dresses, such as dresses in shades of green.
Condon leased the store to Martin’s in Hagerstown in 1946. This company opened an apparel shop at the location until 1956. A fashion hub, Martins used to sell designer his apparel for juniors, misses and women. However, Mary Condon’s reputation as a prominent stylist and shop owner remained unchanged after the shop closed in 1969 and her death.
What makes Mary Condon’s legacy special, beyond her shop filled with sophisticated apparel, is her association with a thriving network of businesswomen in Washington County history. Before opening the store, Condon purchased interest from the store of Alice Wiegley Wagner, who was an equally prominent and well-known businessman in Hagerstown at the time.
Alice Weagly was born in Cavetown in 1880. After her clerical job, she worked in the corset department of her PA Brugh & Sons of Hagerstown. Her employer, who recognized her talent for Weagly, sent her to New York to learn the art of custom fitting her corsets.
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She returned to Hagerstown and provided women with the first bespoke corsets sold in Hagerstown’s department stores. Wigley then opened a corset and lingerie shop on North Potomac Street.
In 1922 Alice married John C. Wagner and sold the ownership of her store to Mary Condon. Mary Her Condon soon opened her own shop. Alice Wagner then worked as a buyer and salesperson at Eyerly’s Department Store, after which she opened another shop on South Potomac Street, offering custom her fitted corsets, apparel and accessories. She died in 1960.
Mary Condon and Alice Wagner explain the influence of women in the history of fashion and business in Washington County. These women measured, styled, and decorated the locals in the fashion of the time, creating delightful memories and leaving behind dresses like those displayed in the Mirror House.
Mary Condon’s 1930s voile dress and other stunning crafts created by the women of Washington County are presented in the latest exhibition, “Behind the Seams: Washington County Style and Stitching,” curated by interim curator Shannon Baker. “.