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Miller House showcases artifacts from more than 30 local firms still in operation after 50 years

June 22, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Savitt of Myersville, left, and Roger Fairbourn of Hagerstown, Washington County Historical Society board of directors vice president and president, respectively, look over the Porter Chemcraft and Microcraft sets made by the Porter Chemical Company once located in Hagerstown as part of the "Made In Washington County: Our Rich Industrial Heritage" exhibit at the historic Miller House.
By Colleen McGrath / Staff Photographer

Times change, but some things stay the same.

Such was the sentiment Friday as the Washington County Historical Society celebrated more than half a century of local industry.

Exhibits representing artifacts from more than 30 firms that have operated in Washington County for 50 to 100 years and continue to operate today were showcased at the historic Miller House in downtown Hagerstown.

The “Made in Washington County: Our Rich Industrial Heritage” display will run through July 27.

“We’re trying to showcase the industries of Washington County, the history of industry here,” said Bob Savitt, vice president of the historical society’s board of directors. “I think most people know about ... some of the larger industries we’ve had here over the years, and I don’t know if that many people realize that we still have quite a few businesses, manufacturers who have been here for 50 and 100 years.”

The exhibit, which kicked off with a reception Friday, includes businesses such as Hagerstown Bookbinding and Printing, Crawford Bicycles and Automobiles, Holcim (Security Cement and Lime), Redland/Cushwa Brick, Volvo/Mack Trucks, Brandt Cabinet Works, Hagerstown Shoe Co., Pangborn Corp., Victor Products, Statton Furniture, Updegraff & Son, Western Maryland Railway, Hagerstown Foundry and Danzer Metal, Clockmakers and Silversmiths, according to a news release.

“Hagerstown and Washington County used to be a real hub of industry. There was a time around the turn of the century — 1900 to midcentury — when you virtually didn’t have to leave Washington County to purchase almost anything,” said Savitt, who spearheaded the event.

Savit said he was surprised by the number of firms the county has retained throughout the years.

About 15 firms that once operated locally, such as London Fog, were also represented in the display.

Noting the employment various firms have provided the area, county Commissioner Jeff Cline gestured to a display for Mack Tracks, saying that the company put Christmas trees in houses and food on tables.

“I think to remember the past is to honor your future,” Cline said.

Savitt

“The labor-intense industry of 100 years ago has shifted over to the point, where those companies that were able to adapt have done quite nicely,” he said, citing spiral staircase manufacturer Duvinage, which has operated in Hagerstown since 1932, as an example.

“And they’re still making spiral staircases; things have changed quite a bit on how they design them, and how they put them together, but (they are) still going strong,” he said.

Duvinage Sales Manager Paul Rhodes, who attended the reception, said: “It’s just interesting, you can see some of the corporations that have been in Hagerstown.”

The exhibit will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, through Saturday, July 27. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students, and free for children ages 14 and younger. Saturday tours  are also available.

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