New Miller House exhibit focuses on fashion history, local women

Written by IhebQld


Do you recall the name of Mary Condon, stylist and apparel shop owner at 111 N. Potomac St.?

Our newest exhibit at the Miller House features a Mary Condon original — a delightful 1930s voile evening gown in a delicate floral print, with whimsical ruched sleeves and a full tiered skirt. This dress is a small thread in Washington County’s history of thriving business women and apparel shops of the early 20th century.

The Mary Condon Style Shop operated from the 1920s until 1946. The shop’s owner, Mary Condon (née Moran) , was born in Hagerstown in 1888; she lived with her family on North Mulberry Street, working as a stenographer at W. D. Byron & Sons Tannery. In 1924, she married David H. Condon, a local physician. She then opened the Mary Condon Style Shop, dressing women of Washington County for nearly 25 years.

During the 1930s, Condon hosted style shows and advertised her styling services in The Daily Mail and The Morning Herald. She frequently traveled to New York, returning with fresh seasonal fashions. She adorned local bridal parties with colorful dresses, such as those in shades of melon, lavender, and aqua green worn by Anna F. Diehl’s bridesmaids in 1934.

Condon leased her shop to Martins of Hagerstown in 1946, a firm that opened an apparel shop at that location until 1956. A center of fashion, Martins sold designer apparel for juniors, misses and women. But Mary Condon’s reputation as a noted stylist and shop owner persisted, even after her shop’s closure and her death in 1969.

What makes Mary Condon’s legacy special — beyond her shop filled with exquisite apparel — is her connection to a network of thriving businesswomen in Washington County’s history. Prior to opening her shop, Condon purchased interest from the store of Alice Weagly Wagner, an equally prominent and well-known businesswoman in Hagerstown at the time.

Alice Weagly was born in Cavetown in 1880. After clerking, she worked in the corset department of P.A. Brugh & Sons of Hagerstown. Recognizing Weagly’s talent, her employer sent her to New York to study custom corset-fitting techniques.

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She returned to Hagerstown, offering women the first custom-fitted corsets sold in a Hagerstown department store. Weagly later opened her own corset and lingerie shop on North Potomac Street.

In 1922, Alice married John C. Wagner, selling the interest of her shop to Mary Condon, who opened her own store not long after. Alice Wagner later worked as a buyer and salesperson at Eyerly’s Department Store before opening another shop of her own on South Potomac Street, offering custom-fit corsetry, apparel and accessories. She died in 1960.

Mary Condon and Alice Wagner illustrate the impact of women in Washington County’s history of fashion and business. These women measured, styled and adorned locals in the fashions of the day, creating fond memories and leaving behind dresses such as the one on display in the Miller House.

Stop by and see Mary Condon’s 1930s voile dress — and other delightful artifacts created by women in Washington County — in “Behind the Seams: Styles and Stitches of Washington County,” our newest exhibit curated by Interim Curator Shannon Baker.

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