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'Made in Washington County' exhibit opens Friday at historical society

June 20, 2013|By AMY DULEBOHN | amyc@herald-mail.com
  • A scale model of a chair with wooden springs made by Beachley Furniture Co. in 1945 is included in the "Made in Washington County: Our Rich Industrial Heritage" exhibit which opens today at the Washington County Historical Society.
Ric Dugan /

More than 30 firms have successfully operated in Washington County for a half a century or longer. 

Those firms, along with others, will be celebrated beginning Friday, June 21, and continuing through Saturday, July 27, at the Washington County Historical Society, 135 W. Washington St., in downtown Hagerstown. An opening reception is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Friday. 

“Made in Washington County: Our Rich Industrial Heritage,” includes businesses such as Hagerstown Bookbinding and Printing, Crawford Bicycles and Automobiles, Holcim (Security Cement and Lime), Redland/Cushwa Brick, Volvo/Mack Tracks, Brandt Cabinet Works, Hagerstown Shoe Company, Pangborn Corporation, Victor Products, Statton Furniture, Updegraff & Son, Western Maryland Railway, Hagerstown Foundry and Danzer Metal, Clockmakers and Silversmiths, according to a news release.

Linda Irvin-Craig, executive director for the historical society, said that of special note in the exhibit are patented items that solved national problems. In 1899, Henry C. Foltz designed and patented a rounded livestock trough that would not crack in winter. Prior to that time, troughs were flat and would often break when the water inside them froze. 

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Also, Irvin-Craig said, Donovan Beachley created a wooden spring for furniture to replace the metal ones during World War II, when metal was difficult to come by. 

Duvinage is said to be the oldest manufacturer of custom spiral staircases and circular stairs in the United States. “Spiral staircases are so much a part of Hagerstown,” Irvin-Craig said. 

Berwick Offray, once known as Maryland Ribbon, used to supply ribbon for Olympic medals, she said. 

Porter Chemical Co. made toy chemical sets; and at one time London Fog had three plants in Washington County, including Hancock, Boonsboro and Halfway, she said. 

Steffey and Findley, Irvin-Craig said, “has been in business forever.” Originally based in Williamsport, the company “continues to thrive in Hagers-town,” she said. It is a brick, coal, fuel oil and building supply store. 

While the Crawford car from Crawford Bicycles and Automobiles is on loan, Irvin-Craig said a display of company memorabilia is on hand for the new exhibit at the historical society. 

There is more than meets than eye when it comes to the appeal of an exhibit featuring local industry. 

“A community such as ours doesn’t exist without an employer base,” Irvin-Craig  said. These industries create “thousands of jobs and people locate here, settle here and work here.” 

Also, these companies fill basic needs and there is a certain artistry in each of them, and “there is a lot of pride in the work. It speaks highly of the work ethic,” she said. 

If you go ...

What: “Made in Washington County: Our Rich Industrial Heritage”

Where: Washington County Historical Society, The Miller House, 135 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, through Saturday, July 27

Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students; free for children ages 14 and younger

Contact: Call 301-797-8782 or go to www.washcomdhistoricalsociety.org

More: An opening reception is from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 21. At other times, call ahead to make sure staff or volunteers are available to give tours. Saturday tours are available by appointment.

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