The business of dressmaking.

Caroline 1907-1915

Caroline. Ryan Hotel, St. Paul, Minn.

Caroline Mundahl’s dressmaking business was conducted at 507 Ryan Building, St. Paul from 1907 to 1915. [Photo: Ryan Hotel at 6th and Robert.]

She was born Carlina Lunde in Bandon, Renville County, Minnesota about 1873, of Norwegian parents. As a young woman she worked in Bandon as a dressmaker until she, like many young women of immigrant parents, left for work in the city. She was living in St. Paul by 1905 when she married Andrew Mundahl, who was a salesman for various men’s clothing retailers in St. Paul, including the Plymouth Clothing House and the Boston Clothing Company. In 1906 she was working as a seamstress for Katherine Kiernan, another prominent dressmaker in the MNHS collection. In 1909, after a lengthy illness, Andrew died of tuberculosis. Caroline continued to run her dressmaking business until about 1915.

Only the most elite of the Twin Cities dressmakers made European buying trips. Caroline traveled abroad at least twice between 1910 and 1912. In addition, the 1909 St. Paul Polk Directory listed 12 seamstresses who worked for her, further suggesting that hers was a well-established mid-sized establishment.

Her designs for clients Mary Proal Saunders, her daughter, Caroline Saunders Lindeke of St. Paul, and Mary Johns of Hastings, Minnesota, are elegant and understated. These clients also patronized several other prominent Twin Cities dressmakers, leaving behind extensive custom-made wardrobes.

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