The business of dressmaking.

Mrs. George F. Hall 1892-1906

HALL of St. Paul (1892-1900)HALL of Chicago (1900-1906)

An overview of the dressmaking business of Mrs. George F. Hall appeared in The St. Paul Globe on March 15, 1901. She made the news when after one of her many annual trips abroad to procure supplies for her business, she was charged with smuggling in four trunks of goods without paying duty on $4,000 worth of "silks, laces and Parisian-made gowns."

"During her residence in St. Paul, Mrs. Hall conducted a large dressmaking establishment at Third and Washington streets [across from the Metropolitan Hotel]. Her customers were from the most exclusive set in the city, and her prices for work were such that only people of wealth could afford to patronize her. Notwithstanding this, her establishment was always busy and she gave steady employment to between twenty-five and thirty seamstresses. It was one of her rules never to make a gown of goods that were not purchased of her, and much of the material used was bought in Paris, to which city she made a journey at least once every year. During her stay in this city no irregularities were ever charged against her and she was immensely popular among her large and fashionable clientele.

A few months ago Mrs. Hall decided to remove to Chicago, and conduct her business on a more extensive scale. Her fame had already extended to the Windy City and among its residents she had a large and influential class of customers who were wont to come to St. Paul for their gowns. She was doing well there, and the news that she has been guilty of attempting to defraud the government will be a surprise to her acquaintances here.

While she resided here her business affairs were in the hands of her husband, George F. Hall, who will be remembered as one of the best known men about town, and a curler of more than usual skill. He was for years the skip for one of the local [curling] rinks and donor of the George F. Hall medal, over which many closely contested games were waged." Woman's silk brocade bodice.

Hall's gowns in MNHS collections feature exclusive and fine fabrics. The Halls lived in St. Paul from 1885 to 1900; their residence and business was at 110 West Third Street. Alice Monfort, whose father managed the nearby Windsor Hotel (on the site of the current St. Paul Hotel) described West Third Street as the "city's fashionable promenade in the 1880's…suitable for window shopping."

Mrs. Hall advertisement for experienced waist and skirt hands, which appeared in The St. Paul Globe in the fall of 1892 suggests that hers was a good sized business. One long-term employee emerges from the record: Effie E. Judson, born in Kansas, who worked for Hall as a saleswoman, forewoman and/or clerk from 1893 to 1898. She was still living, unemployed, in St. Paul in 1900, but soon may have followed the Halls to Chicago where, in 1903, she married Frank A. Cole, a Chicago architect.

The Halls left St. Paul for Chicago in early 1900 for an even more fashionable address on Michigan Avenue. Several of their St. Paul clients continued to have clothes made by the Halls, including members of the James J. Hill family. Such was the loyalty between customer and dressmaker that Mrs. Hill continued to use the Halls for custom clothing exclusively until 1904, traveling regularly to Chicago by train for fittings and consultations.

See More:

"Arrested for Smuggling", Column 2 See: Chronicling America, The Minneapolis journal, March 15, 1901,Image 1

"Mrs. Hall Is In Trouble", Column 3 See: Chronicling America, St. Paul Globe, March 15, 1901, Image 2

See additional images of clothing from her business

See More