A Brief History of Mercersburg Clothing Factories


Compiled by Ron Martin-Minnich


There is a long history of clothing factories in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  They have been both dress and shirt factories.  The most extensive references can be found in the volume of Old Mercersburg Revisited: Civil War to Bicentennial 1865-1976, published by The Women’s Club of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, 1987.

The information begins with the United Presbyterian Church with a reference in the Mercersburg Journal, July 6, 1871, (Old Mercersburg Revisited, p.7).  It states that the new United Presbyterian Church was nearly completed. 

In 1898, there is a reference in Old Mercersburg, 1908, p.131. that the United Presbyterian Church was destroyed by fire after the building had been sold.

In Seth Hays Diary, Sunday, December 23, 1905, documents that the United Presbyterian Church was partially destroyed by fire about 2-4 AM.  The building was erected about 1870, but the congregation having dwindled away, it stood idle for many years until last Summer when it was sold to Rev. R.F. Fetterolf, Pastor of the Lutheran Church.  The relations of Mr. Fetterolf with his flock being anything but cordial, he resigned his charge, bought the old church and converted it into a sewing factory by installing sewing machines and hiring a force of girls.  The business proved unprofitable, however, and he dismantled the plant and moved to Selinsgrove, PA some time during the Fall.  Since then, the building has stood vacant.

After the church building was destroyed by fire, the Smith Mansion “Rosemont” (also known as the Daub’s Home) was built over the foundation of the former United Presbyterian Church.

References appear about The Mercersburg Shirt Factory that opened January 1920, closed in 1921, reopened in September 1922.  Pioneer Cloak Company opened March 1923, closed?  Mercersburg Shirt Factory reopened February 1929.  East California Street was the location near the corner of Fayette Street (Old Mercersburg Revisited, p. 27)

Page 40 in Old Mercersburg Revisited, references the following in the 1930-1940s to S. Liebovitz and Sons Dress factory and later Shirt Factory.  This industry employed about 175 women from the area.  It is believed that the first factory was located on the corner of east California Street and South Fayette Street.  Later it was moved to 23 East Seminary Street, according to Peter Dale (Old Mercersburg Revisited, p. 40).  Mr. Dale returned after WWII and resumed his managerial position, that was filled by Gerald Kemp in the 1930s and during Dale’s military service in the War.  The factory made clothing for the Armed Services during the War.

                       Mercersburg Apparel Company, Inc. building in 2024 on East Seminary Street.

After the War, Dale purchased the business and manufactured Children’s Clothing under the HiLine name.  Mr. Hy Green opened a Dress factory manufacturing U Wanna Wash Frocks in 1954 at 41 West Seminary Street.  The clothing was made in the first floor area and the second floor was used as a showroom and outlet.  In 1970, the business was moved to a new building on Keefer Drive (current American Legion building).  Mr. Green purchased Mr. Dale’s. operation in 1971 or 1972, combining the two plants.  In 1980, Doris Shives Unger and Donald O. Bivens purchased the business from Hy Green and opened under the name of Tri-Clothing at the 23 East Seminary Street address.


Dress Factory Staff with Peter Dale in 1962.  Mercersburg Printing location in 2024.


Former Hy Green Factory next to Food Lion in 2024.


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