James E. Casto/For The Herald-Dispatch From the 1940s until 1991, Maidenform operated a bra plant in this building at 2311 Adams Ave. Still standing, the structure has had various tenants in the years since.

Editor's note: This is the 130th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.

HUNTINGTON - In the 1920s, fashion demanded that the American woman do everything she could to conceal rather than reveal her figure. Challenging that idea, Ida Roenthal set out to prove that the bosom was round, not flat.

In 1922, she and partner Enid Bissett introduced America's first brassieres, giving them out free with each dress sold in their carriage-trade dress shop on fashionable 57th Street in New York City. Soon, they began selling their bras as fast as they could make them. Mrs. Rosenthal's idea intrigued her husband William, and together with Mrs. Bissett they founded the Maidenform Brassiere Co. with $4,500 in capital and 10 enthusiastic employees.

The company would go on to make advertising history in the 1950s when it introduced its "I dreamed I was (doing some ordinary thing) in my Maidenform bra" campaign. The enormously popular ads featured a proud and cheerful woman going about some public activity while showing off her bra.

To keep up with the expanding demand for its bras, the company built a number of manufacturing plants around the country, including three in West Virginia - in Clarksburg, Princeton and Huntington.

Opened in the 1940s, Maidenform's Huntington plant was located at 2311 Adams Ave. The plant operated much like an auto factory assembly line. The cutting department would cut out the pieces and then pass them along to a series of sewers, each of whom would perform one step until the bra was complete.

The bra company closed its Huntington plant in the fall of 1991, leaving 75 workers jobless. The Clarksburg and Princeton plants were also closed.


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