This five-story granite mill building was one of the major catalysts for the 19th century population surge in Ware, Massachusetts. As New England’s fledgling textile industry of the era played a vanguard role in transforming the U.S. into an industrial nation, the significance of this type of mill can hardly be understated. The Otis Mill #1 in Ware is one of the last remaining granite textile mills of this early period in central/western Massachusetts. The mill was built in 1845 for the Otis Company, which initially manufactured woven cotton fabric, but later branched out into stockings, woolen shirts and drawers underwear. The company was Ware’s largest employer for about 100 years! The company prospered thru WWI employing over 2,500 people. During the 1920’s the business began a decline due to the southern state’s mills and lack of modernization. In the mid 30’s the Otis Co sold its property to the citizens of Ware, which they formed Ware Industries, Inc to continue the major employer in the town. Due to this Ware came to be known nation-wide as “The Town That Can’t Be Licked.” The mill is now home to local small businesses as a sort of incubator, providing jobs to local residents!
The Richmond Underwear Company in Richmond, Vermont was formed in 1900, in response to a drive by the citizens of town to attract a business to the town by means of financial inducement. In 1900, residents here raised several thousand dollars to entice two businessmen from Upstate New York to establish a plant for the
manufacture of women’s and children’s muslin underwear. The factory was built in a former apple orchard just north of the main strip in seven months and soon after, became one of Vermont’s largest manufacturers of underwear, employing 160 people at its peak (mostly women). This new company resulted in an influx of workers, and a building boom in the town, and it became the first building in the town to be fitted with steam heat and electrical power. After WWII, the factory was occupied by Gilman Paper Co., who manufactured paper to use for the backing of rugs, but later became know as Cellucord. After that, the building was occupied by various companies and craftsmen until it was restored in the early 1990s and now houses offices.