Walking along East Main Street in Westminster, the county seat of Carroll County, one can find clues from the city’s past. Take, for example, the words “T.W. Mather & Sons” etched into one of the buildings, the remnants of one of the city’s downtown shopping destinations.
A description of the former establishment from a 1996 Carroll County Times article is just as accurate today: “The store, with its understated marble facade and large display windows, sits along a well-shaded section of East Main Street across from the public library.”
For more than 100 years, Mather’s served the needs of the community.
A 1902 article in the Democratic Advocate outlined the beginnings of the business. “Twelve years ago Mr. T.W. Mather came to Westminster from Harford county, Md., and opened a store in the Zeiber Building, corner of Main and John streets. The store was modest in pretensions and the stock was not large.”
But the business grew, and five years later Mather moved his operation to East Main Street. “From its modest beginning the store has grown to the front rank of Westminster stores, the largest and best in the State outside of Baltimore,” the article proclaimed. “The stock now embraces forty-eight distinct departments, the last to be added being carpets and mattings. The growth of this establishment has been rapid, and the proprietors are to be congratulated on their success.”
That success continued for decades. In 1944, the business was sold to the Parsons company. An article in The News outlined the change in ownership: “The Parsons company is not a chain organization, but a home store organization, conducting establishments in Annapolis and Frederick. The personnel in the store remains the same. Paul M. Wimert, who has served the firm since 1909, has been appointed manager.”
Mather’s continued to be a downtown destination until the mid-1990s. Manning Parsons, who owned the establishment with his sister Martha Nelson, attributed the downturn in business to more people shopping at big-box stores and shopping malls rather than downtown, according to a 1996 Carroll County Times article.
The building was sold to Bob Coffey, who has operated Coffey Music out of it since 1997.
Sources: Carroll County Times, October 20, 1996, November 23, 1997; Democratic Advocate, April 12, 1902; The News, August 19, 1944