It seems that the “25 West 57th Street” address — where Lovecraft’s wife Sonia opened her first hat shop, just off Fifth Avenue — had long been a location for upmarket hat retail, judging by these online snippets:

“Fresh with ideas from Paris and elsewhere, Herman Tappe opened up his own emporium in New York City in May of 1907. At first, he specialized in ladies’ hats” […] “He opened the House of Tappe’ at 25 West 57th Street” circa 1910.

Then in 1918…

“Doane-Evette, a new millinery concern, has leased the store formerly occupied by Tappe at 25 West 57th Street, New York, taking over the former Lewison mansion.”

After Tappe moved, the store had been advertised for rent as…

“This is an exceptional opportunity to lease a showroom 25 x 90 feet, also a workroom of the same size with executive offices. In the heart of the most exclusive millinery center to be found anywhere in America”.

Doane-Evette filed a notice of bankruptcy in the New York press in February 1919. That she failed so quickly may have been due to the disruption in supply lines from Paris in the aftermath of the Armistice. But it may also indicate that the expense of running such a store was considerable. Less than a decade later, Sonia’s hat shop at the same address would also collapse within months.

It seems surprising that Sonia’s store, opening there in the mid 1920s, has left no trace in the online record. Perhaps something of that size and location was thought not to need press advertising, or the relevant directories and trade publications have not yet been scanned and placed online? Perhaps the sheer speed of its collapse (a few months, it seems) meant that she had no chance to built up a wad of profits that could be spent on advertising?

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