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Milliners, Dressmakers & Seamstresses

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

Milliner, seamstress and dressmaker were all professions acceptable for women in the earlier days of the 1900’s and those jobs often provided income for widows. Millinocket had its share with some ladies having their own shops on Penobscot Avenue while others plied their trade from their home or in a small area of a downtown business. Ads in old local newspapers and yearbooks provided the following information.

As early as December of 1901, Miss E. S. McCormick had a special sale of millinery with all goods at cost. In1902, Mrs. E.S. Holway advertised a millinery & dressmaking parlor in a portion of Asa Craig’s dry goods store. In December of that year, she was also having a close-out of ladies’ golf hats “at prices that will astonish you!” Mrs. J.F. Feehan advertised her dressmaking skills at her home on Central Street opposite the Tapley House. Mrs. John Gwynn had ads in both the newspaper and yearbooks. A winter 1902 says mark-downs on “storm skirts, jackets and nightdresses.” Prices on the storm skirts were dropped from $3.70 to only $2.75. Another ad mentioned Gwynn had a choice of furs to choose from. She stated, “They always are a practical Christmas present.”

In the 1920’s, Miss Rist, Miss Reed and Mrs. A. Corey had ads in yearbooks for their businesses. Miss Rist had a millinery shop (location not mentioned). Miss Beatrice Reed had a millinery shop (possibly Penobscot Ave.). By 1923, her shop had been sold to Mrs. Arthur Russell and Mrs. James Steeves. Mrs. A. Corey had “the little store with the big stock. Come and see our Spring Models in Ladies’ Clothing.”

The 1920’s showed some stores providing pre-made clothing although as mentioned some seamstresses and milliners worked from their homes or in small nooks in downtown stores. One such store was Frost and Frost. “Heard on the street…You’ve got to hand it to these people…They are the right merchants for the women of Millinocket.” The ad continues “The Home of Dresses for Girlish Girls and Stylish Stouts. Millinery and Garments.” Other Frost and Frost ads state they had a special fitting department for the right fit for “gloves, hosiery and corsets.” There was also a millinery department. Their telephone number was Millinocket 142 and Millinocket 143.

In the 20’s, O’Connell’s Inc. had “the newest for Spring in coats, suits and dresses plus millinery, we invite your inspection.” A. Corey’s ad simply states “Ladies and Misses Garments, Millinocket, Maine.”

By the 1930’s – 40’s, more ladies’ clothing came to stores premade and store names like Rush’s Clothing Store; Bon Marche (1930’s), “Where smart styles meet modest prices”; Claire’s Model Ladies’ Shop (1940’s), “see a complete line of graduation dresses and accessories”; and the Asa Craig Store, “wise women look for our new summer stock of ladies’ suits and raincoats.”

There were more…if you have photos of these ladies, paper items with their business name or items made by these ladies or from these stores, we would like to talk to you! The museum has a lady’s hat on display made by Rosalie (Rush) Ryan, milliner, who made hats for ladies at Rush’s Store.

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