In 1823, the Newmarket Manufacturing Company built its first mill along the Lamprey River, dominating the waterfront and the economy of Newmarket, New Hampshire. Harnessing water power at the base of the falls, the cotton textile manufacturing community grew to include seven textile mills, with factory buildings, a machine shop, office, storage buildings, and corporate boarding houses; totaling some 140 buildings in all. During its peak production, 700 employees made up to 300,000 yards of cotton products each week, and 2.7 million yards of silk cloth each year. The mills operated continuously at this site until 1929 when a dispute between mill owners and workers erupted leading to their closure. Between 2010 and 2012, eight large mill buildings within the Newmarket Manufacturing Company property underwent a conversion to mixed use, including residential, retail, and office units, thanks to Historic Preservation Tax Credits, and many professionals who worked together with the vision to see such a large project through. Today, the complex is a excellent case-study on the power of adaptive reuse and historic preservation.
Driving down the dirt roads of rural Vermont with no cell phone service can be a great way to explore, so imagine my delight when i drove past this stunning old building tucked behind a historic cemetery! The building was erected in 1835-1837 by Levi Bailey, a local entrepreneur and mill owner who, in 1794, in partnership with a George Betterley, purchased the mill site and proceeded to build a dam, for later development. Legend says, in 1808, he required the good will of David Hapgood, his next door neighbor, so he could buy more land in front of his proposed mill. But, in fact, Levi had so irritated Hapgood somehow, that he instead donated the coveted acre to the Town of Reading for use as a town cemetery, ensuring that Bailey could never control it. Thus a “spite” cemetery was laid out, the only one I am aware of! Underterred, Bailey erected over the next two decades the series of buildings to manufacture goods, the buildings we see today. Bailey’s Mills in Reading, Vermont, is actually three connected, 2 1/2-story, brick, Greek Revival style buildings with several attached wood frame appendages added over time. He lived in the building and a store was run out of the building for locals. The building is now home to the Bailey Mills Bed & Breakfast.
Located in the Wauregan Village of Plainfield, Connecticut, this massive mill complex is a lasting memory of a neighborhood which once thrived. Like hundreds of mill villages all over New England after WWII, the mill and surrounding neighborhood saw decline with the shift from manufacturing to service jobs paired with the globalization of the U.S economy.
Wauregan, which means “Pleasant Valley” in Mohegan (a native tribe in the area), began in about 1850 when Amos D. Lockwood, bought water privileges and land on the east side of the Quinebaug River in present day Plainville. The Wauregan Mills Company became well-known for their specialty cotton goods, with an emphasis on cotton flannel sheeting. The first mill building was constructed in 1853 of local stone and comprised of a singular four-story building. Within five years, Lockwood sold the mill and the surrounding land for much more than he invested to James S. Atwood, who sought to develop a “model hamlet” around the mill building which would allow factory employees to live and shop near their work.
Worker housing in the village included 104 company-owned buildings containing 255 tenement apartments for rental to workers, plus two boarding houses for unmarried female workers. A railroad station was built in 1859 and a post office was established in 1860. Atwood also expanded the mill at this time and constructed a near-identical structure behind the old building and a small connector between.
On August 1955, torrential rains from Hurricanes Connie and Diane caused many dams along the Quinebaug River to break, including the one at Wauregan. The mill was flooded to the level of the first floor ceilings. Workers tried to salvage as much cloth, raw materials and machinery as they could but ultimately the company lost more than $1,500,000. In 1957, James Arthur Atwood III, grandson of James S. Atwood, and the rest of the company directors decided to cease all operations resulting in the company’s final closing. The building remains vacant to this day.