Our History

The Woman’s Industrial Exchange began in October of 1880, 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.

Sometime in the 1880’s, 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 Exchange then moved the shop to the southeast corner of Pleasant and Charles where the Verizon building now stands. 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 purchased this building and moved into it in 1889. A shop window was added circa 1900, which enhances the fine Flemish bonded brick work and marble stoop.

From the late 1800’s until recently The Exchange sold women’s handwork, operated a tea room or lunch restaurant in the same location.

Today, we welcome you to our gracious and historic setting where we are carrying on a Baltimore tradition with your help.