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Cortland Corset Building

Location: 75 E. Court Street, Cortland, NY
(42.599317, -76.170768)

To be an unwed mother in 1906 was a precarious position for a working-class girl. As soon as her predicament was publicly reviled, she would become a pariah, her child a bastard, even suffering under the threat of disownment from her family. In Grace’s mind, there existed only one clear solution. Chester would need to marry her.

It was during these early months of her pregnancy that the letters, for the time being, ceased. No offer of marriage was ever given that spring. Although they were still regularly seen together during May and June, no hint of her pregnancy was detected.

A 30-foot mural on the west end of the Cortland Corset Building was created by local artist, Crystal Lyon, to honor the 150-year-old building. The mural features a large wagon wheel in the background and a woman wearing a corset, goggles, and artwork on her arms. The woman is Grace Brown, the American skirt factory worker at the Gillette Skirt Company.