“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Cumberland in Allegany County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Footer's Dye Works

Footer's Dye Workd Marker image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, September 16, 2019
1. Footer's Dye Workd Marker
Note #1: Viewing east towards marker.
Inscription.  The Footer's Dye Works building is the last remaining structure of a sizeable industrial complex that was once the largest cleaning and dyeing establishment in the United States—and one of Cumberland's major employers. The building housed the company's office, and the functions of cloth finishing and pressing.It played a central role in the company's operation—where administration was carried out, and crucial final steps in preparing the product took place. The bulk of the original complex was constructed in 1906 and an additional "Wet Dye House" was built in 1910, filling the block with brick factory buildings housing "America's Greatest Cleaning and Dyeing Works."

Thomas Footer passed away in 1923, but his two sons continued the company. Throughout the 1920s, Footer Dye Works continued as one of the dominant cleaning and dyeing establishments in the region. The Cumberland factory employed nearly 500 people with a weekly payroll of several thousand dollars. As many as twenty branch offices were located in the region, with major branch offices in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. One source of business included the
Footer's Dye Works and the exterior of the Footer's Dye Works building. image. Click for full size.
National Park Service, Thomas Stone National Historic Site, September 16, 2019
2. Footer's Dye Works and the exterior of the Footer's Dye Works building.
Note #1: Viewing north towards marker.
White House in Washington, D.C., who shipped their lace curtains to Footer's for cleaning.

The 1930s, however, brought hard times to Footer's. A new "dry" cleaning process was beginning to take hold, replacing the steam cleaning process used in the factory. With the Great Depression in full swing, pressure from dry cleaning competition, and a devastating Potomac River flood in March 1936, Footer's Dye Works filed for bankruptcy on June 12, 1936. The plant was sold on December 30th to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the cleaning and dyeing operation closed. In 1997, Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority purchased the property. The Footer building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Vintage postcard of Footer's Dye Works, circa 1911.

The Cumberland factory employed nearly 500 workers in the 1920s.

Thomas B. Footer Thomas Footer was an immigrant from England who received American citizenship in 1869. In 1870 he established "Footer's Steam and Dye Works" on North Liberty Street in Cumberland. By 1904, after several expansions, the company had outgrown Liberty Street. On March 1, 1906, the local newspaper Cumberland Times, announced that Footer's Dye Works intended to build a new building on S. Mechanic Street.
Erected by
Footer's Dye Works image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, 1906
3. Footer's Dye Works
Maryland Heritage Area Authority.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 39° 38.888′ N, 78° 45.733′ W. Marker is in Cumberland, Maryland, in Allegany County. Marker can be reached from Canal Street 0.1 miles from Howard Street. Go south for 200 feet along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath from the metal arch called "The Shops at Canal Place" to reach the marker. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cumberland MD 21502, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cumberland Terminus: Yesterday and Today (within shouting distance of this marker); C&O Canal Terminus (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Canal Boat Replica—The Cumberland (about 300 feet away); Irish Laborers (about 400 feet away); Cumberland Terminus: Yesterday and Today (about 500 feet away); Life on the Canal (about 500 feet away); Boat Building at the Cumberland Basin (about 500 feet away); The National Road (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cumberland.
Also see . . .  Footer's Dye Works, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. (Submitted on September 24, 2019.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 27, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 24, 2019. This page has been viewed 85 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 24, 2019. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Nov. 23, 2020