Throwback Thursday – Bowling Green’s Fashion Mogul: Carrie Burnam Taylor

Throwback Thursday this week is a dedication to one of Bowling Green’s most famous female entrepreneurs—Mrs. Carrie Burnam Taylor. A Victorian era businesswoman, she had an eye for fashion and the smarts to grow the biggest Bowling Green dressmaking factory of her time.

Born in 1855 in Bowling Green to Thomas and Dee Hampton Burnam, Carrie started her own small dressmaking business from a house on Main Street. Women all over southern Kentucky favored her homemade designs and impeccable style. Carrie’s fashion sense for wedding and bridesmaid gowns, party dresses, evening overcoats, bodices, and petticoats soon skyrocketed her company into a mogul’s empire. 

After marrying Aaron H. Taylor, she established the A.H. Taylor Company in 1878, which soon brought in more business than the home could handle. Carrie moved her dressmaking to a factory in downtown Bowling Green, where it grew to employ nearly 350 women by the turn of the 20th century.

Carrie and Aaron Taylor traveled the world in search of new fashion ideas and special fabrics for her locally-made designs. They would visit Paris and invite patrons from around the country to make specially-curated dress requests for their unique travels. 

She became one of the biggest real estate owners in Bowling Green and a philanthropist in her later years. Dying of asthma in 1917, her company continued to make dresses until the late 1920s, when the Victorian style phased out and more practical, easy-wearing garments became more popular.

The Kentucky Museum is opening a newly-curated Carrie Burnam Taylor exhibit this Fall.