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The Victory Window: Hutzler’s Patriotism on Full Display

Hutzler’s window display, photograph by Leslie Eames, 2020. Maryland Center for History and Culture (Reference photo)

In this blog post, Library Associate Micah Connor delves into the latest window theme for the Hutzler’s Experience exhibition at the Maryland Center for History and Culture.

The Maryland Center for History and Culture’s Museum is open and welcoming visitors with a wide range of exhibitions. Among these, located in the alcove of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library, is the Hutzler’s Experience exhibition, an homage to one of Maryland’s most respected department store companies. Although the exhibition opened in December 2019, its centerpiece, the window display, has been changing themes. The new window rotation—”Hutzler’s Victory Window”—was designed as a tribute to the patriotism that the Hutzler Brothers Company showed during World War II.

In order to fully appreciate the current window theme, it is important to know the history behind the Victory Window. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Hutzler’s joined other Maryland businesses in support of the war effort. Company president Albert D. Hutzler busied himself with several administrative appointments, including a position on the Defense Savings Committee for Maryland. [1] However, it was not until 1942 that Hutzler’s created their iconic Victory Window. The first of its kind in the country, the Victory Window was located along Howard Street and encouraged passersby to buy war bonds and stamps. [2] Different rotations of the display featured large colorful posters with patriotic imagery, flags, and mannequins. The Victory Window was so successful that by the following year, Hutzler’s reportedly “had sold $2,080,000 in war bonds and $310,000 in stamps.” [3] It is possible that the retail company raised even more money in war bonds, based on a thermometer sign in the current exhibition. It suggests that by the end of the war Hutzler’s raised more than $17 million in war bonds, and by December 8, 1945—the last date marked on the thermometer—more than $19 million. In this sense, the Victory Window was not only visually appealing (after all, Hutzler’s legendary advertising department oversaw the displays), but effective at encouraging people to contribute to the war effort.

War Bond Window Display: What If Lincoln Had United Only Half the Nation?, photograph by Blakeslee-Lane, 1943. Hutzler Photograph Collection, PP5, Box 12, Folder 8. H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Center for History and Culture.

The current exhibition includes items that could have been plucked from the Victory Window of old. Hutzlerites will instantly recognize the steel and chrome Hutzler sign at the very front of the display. It appeared in most, if not all, window displays. A beautiful floral satin dress—although made circa 1957—serves as a brilliant pop of color. It was designed by David Goodstein, sold by Hutzler’s Dress Salon, and was worn by Amelia Prescott Allison Stirling (1899–1989). The payroll savings poster and payroll savings plan certificate both indicate that Hutzler’s employees directly supported the war effort alongside the customers they served. The bright red Hutzler’s Air Raid Precaution armband and accompanying manual serve as reminders that Hutzler’s employees—like other citizens in Maryland—lived in a state of high alert but were nonetheless prepared for emergencies. The ARP manual was owned by Philip A. Ehart (1886–1943), a cabinetmaker for Hutzler’s.

Hutzler’s Air Raid Precaution Armband, photograph by Leslie Eames, 2020. MCHC (Reference photo)
Air Raid Precaution Manual published by Hutzler Brothers, December 1942, photograph by Leslie Eames, 2020. MCHC (Reference photo)

There are, of course, other items in the window display and the Hutzler’s exhibition as a whole. To learn more about the objects in the exhibition, consider browsing either the digital collections on the MCHC website or the library’s catalog. Library collections of particular note are the Hutzler Photograph Collection (PP5) and two collections of Hutzler Brothers Company Papers (MS 2691), (MS 2746). The library also maintains several volumes of Tips and Taps, Hutzler’s self-published magazine.

The Victory Window won’t be up for long though as another rotation is already in the works. Museum guests should visit and view the current display while they can.

For a timelapse view of the installation for this exhibition, check out the link here: https://vimeo.com/454883406

Born and raised in Baltimore, Micah Connor enjoys working with library and archival resources. He started at the Maryland Center for History and Culture as an intern in 2014 before joining the staff in 2018. He specializes in Revolutionary War research and loves helping people discover their ancestors.

Sources and further reading:

[1] “Defense Savings State Unit Named: 30 Persons Chosen for Committee to Boost Sales throughout Maryland Appeal Will Be Made to Various Groups to Enlist Their Support” The Sun (Baltimore), December 8, 1941.

[2] Michael J. Lisicky, Hutzler’s: Where Baltimore Shops (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2009).

[3] “Hutzler Gets Bond Award: Treasury Certificate Given to One of First Stores to Set Up Permanent Center Firm President Says $2,080,000 Worth of Securities and Stamps Have Been Sold,” The Sun (Baltimore), January 15, 1943.