The Woman’s Industrial Exchange began shortly after the Civil War in the home of Mrs. G. Harmon Brown of Baltimore, where women brought their handwork to be sold to local citizens and visitors. Mrs. Harmon’s endeavor was part of a nationwide exchange movement to help women in need discreetly earn a living.
In 1880 the enterprise was so successful that a shop was opened at Saratoga and Holiday Streets. In 1882 the State Legislature incorporated the organization “for the purpose of endeavoring by sympathy and practical aid to encourage and help needy women to help themselves by procuring for them and establishing a sales room for the sale of Women’s Work.”
The present building at 333 N. Charles Street, constructed circa 1815, was purchased in 1860 by Mrs. Mary E. Boardley for a boarding house. A five story rear wing was added. The Exchange moved to this building in 1887 and purchased it in 1889. A shop window was added circa 1900, which enhances the fine Flemish bonded brick work and marble stoop.
In the late 1800′s The Exchange sold women’s handwork, operated a tea room, and gave instructions in needlework and cooking. Consignors provided quality handmade items to be sold in the shop.
Today, we welcome you to our gracious and historic setting where we are carrying on a Baltimore tradition with your help. The Exchange continues to serve its non-profit mission as an outlet of hand-crafted goods made by women and men intent on supporting themselves with dignity.