The Sheafe Warehouse in Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire was constructed in the first half of the 18th century in a spot ideally situated on the Piscataqua River to receive incoming ships. The design of the building is unique with a garrison (second story overhang) which enabled cargo to be unloaded directly from ships arriving in the port. The structure was apparently built (and named after) Jacob Sheafe (1715-1791) a prominent and prosperous merchant who followed in his father’s footsteps engaged in trade with the West Indies. The building was used as storage for centuries until the 1930s when the owner sold the warehouse to two Portsmouth sisters, Mary E. and Josie F. Prescott, the founders of Prescott Park. Interested in preserving the history of their native city, the sisters had the building moved to its current location and restored. The building (and the adjacent Shaw Warehouse) was listed on the State Register of Historic Places.
New England Industrial History
Shaw Warehouse // 1806
The Shaw Warehouse located inside Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was constructed between 1806 and 1813 and is significant as a rare example of a vernacular warehouse building from the early 19th century. It is very vernacular, unadorned with a very functional use, but these types of buildings (like barns and stables) are some of the most charming and provide a link to working-class history from the past. The building is the only of its kind remaining in its original location in Portsmouth, and as a result, was listed in 2011 on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. It now houses offices for the nearby park.
Otis Company Mill #1 // 1845
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!
Richmond Underwear Company // 1900
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.