Like the city of Annapolis and the Pride of Baltimore, City Awning Company
also has a long and rich history. The article below is reprinted from The Public
Enterprise newspaper in Annapolis, MD. from the February, 1992 issue.
Annapolis' old City Awning Co. known regionally for many years, was sold to new
owners as of Feb. 7, and is now slated to get back on the track once familiar to many, but
off on a branch line since 1984.
New owners are Robert and Karen Miller. And though not strictly speaking
"on deck," the friendly advisory assistance of Joseph J. Goetz, who had the firm
from 1953 to 1984.
The firm is a slice out of Annapolis' own 20th century commercial history. In
1923, a retired Navy sailmaker-one of the last of his ancient naval breed-one Axel
Anderson, decided to start his own canvas business making awnings of all sorts in a shop
at the rear of his house on 6th St. in Eastport.
In the early '30s he decided to retire again and offered his thriving little
business for sale. It was purchased by Gardiner A. Hall and his wife Dorothy, who moved it
to 120 West St. where both lived. On Dec. 15, 1939, a fire that began in a faulty neon
window sign forced the couple to temporarily move across the street. In March of 1940,
they purchase the property at 1311 West St., built a shop, and began to diversify by
adding wood and metal blinds, window shades, and upholstering. The old Carvel Hall hotel
(restored as the Wm. Paca House) was one of their accounts.
During WWII, City Awning did its part, manufacturing products among which were
large, funnel-shaped canvas sea anchors, searchlight and deck gun covers, and covers for
bunk mattresses for the wooden torpedo boats being b uilt for Britain and the Soviet Union
in Eastport at the old Annapolis Boat Works (later Trumpy's Yacht Yard, and today 222
Severn Ave. and the chart House Restaurant).
Circumstances led to the Halls and Joe Goetz and his wife Lenore meeting in
January of 1953, and the company was offered to them. The sale was completed on April 13
that year and for the next 31 years, the Goetz's continued to fill the canvas needs of an
ever-expanding clientele and further diversified product lines to include aluminum, vinyl
awning, canopies and windows and doors, plus a variety of interior treatments form
draperies to window shades.
Late in 1983, Rick Grieg and his wife Christine, of Toronto, Canada, made an
offer to buy the firm. That sale was completed on Jan. 10, 1984. The Griegs decided to
take City Awning on a different path; they would specialize in commercial work, and
gradually eliminated the greatly diversified lines developed over the preceding
half-century. This forced hundreds of loyal local residential customers to buy elsewhere.
The decline of the '80s boom times, and what was called "general
mismanagement," led the Griegs, late in 1991, to virtually abandon the company and
seek employment elsewhere. That left the Goetz's, as the secured party, to either close
its doors or jump in and attempt a rescue of the 68-year old firm.
They opted for rescue, and a very loyal crew of employees, headed up by Dottie
Wood, seamstress turned-suddenly-management by the departure of the Griegs, leapt into the
"After months of much legal mumbo-jumbo," said Joe Goetz, "and
active networking within the industry and its suppliers" he and Leonore found Robert
Miller, who as a child had been taught how to install grommets in products made at his
grandfather's canvas business in Baltimore, and who stayed with the craft through
Joe Goetz is very pleased. Miller, he asserts, is not only "very proficient
in all phases of the business," but hasn't missed a beat, and aims to welcome back
City Awning's old local customers and new clients as well.
Its present shop is a 145 Gibraltar Ave., off West St., just past the old