History threads — ‘We’re back at home’

This is the latest in an occasional series of posts about the history of the garment industry in Warren, Washington and Essex counties.

In fall 1918 Unger’s Shirt Waist Co. hired 25 additional workers at its Hudson Falls factory, and others to do piece work at home, when the company landed a federal contract to make shirt waists for Red Cross and nursing uniforms.

“Strictly tailored like men’s shirts,” the company advertised in The Post-Star.

About two years later, the company relocated its factory to 76 Ridge St., the building that formerly house Sweet Restaurant.

It was a return to the city where Samuel Unger established the company.

The move appears to have been prompted by the abundance of a skilled garment industry workforce in Glens Falls, which had numerous garment factories at the time.

“We’re back at home again and we want to meet our old employees, to all of whom we offer steady employment and attractive wages,” Unger advertised in The Post-Star.

About 25 Hudson Falls employees decided to stay with the company at the new location.

Samuel Unger resigned as manager of the Max Kurzrok Co. garment factory on Haskell Avenue in Glens Falls in 1917 to strike out on his own.

He leased a former J.E. Sawyer & Co. warehouse at 32 Warren St. in the Thomson block in June 1917 , and started operations in July.

In February 1918, he relocated the company to Hudson Falls, on the third floor of the Adirondack Garage Co. building at 188 Main St., at a time of “unprecedented demand” for shirt waists.

“Throughout yesterday a force of men was engaged in removing automobile accessories belonging to the Adirondack Garage Company from the quarters,” The Post-Star reported.

The Hudson Falls factory opened with 20 machines and 28 employees.

About a month later the factory increased to 25 machines and 35 employees, and Unger was set to install 12 more machines.

“Mr. Unger says he has orders to keep operating for the next year,” The Post-Star reported.

In November 1919, Unger purchase a Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. group policy with $500 life and disability coverage for each of his employees, free of charge to the employees.

He also operated a factory in Fort Ann, at the time.

The new Glens Falls factory building in 1920 included a retail store in the ground floor, selling product at “wholesale prices” to the general public.

“Mr. Unger states that he is of the opinion that the retail store will prove popular as it will enable the purchasing public to save the middleman’s profits and secure high-class goods at manufacturer’s prices,” The Post-Star reported.

Sources: The Post-Star June 29, July 13, 1917; Feb. 12, 24, 27,1918; March 13, 18, Aug. 31, Sept. 20, 25, 1920

Click here to read the most recent previous post in the series.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY