Table of Contents
 Statement of purpose
 History of cotton manufactures
 American cotton mills and their...

Title: New England textile mills and the mill village - report
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Title: New England textile mills and the mill village - report
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Language: English
Creator: Chase, Charles Edwin
Publisher: Charles Edwin Chase
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
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Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Statement of purpose
        Page 6
        Page 7
    History of cotton manufactures
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
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        Page 27
    American cotton mills and their villages
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Full Text


ae 683

Prof. F.

Blair Reeves

Charles Edwin Chase
November 24, 1974

prepared for
Prof. F. Blair Reeves

Charles Edwin Chase
November 24, 1974

New England Textile Mills and the Mill Village


I. History of Cotton Manufactures
A. effects of the Industrial Revolution
B. cotton manufactures in Britain
C. cotton manufactures in America
D. development of large scale corporate mills

II. Architecture of the resulting cotton mills and their villages
A. physical characteristics
1. geography and the demand for water power
2. antecedant types of mills in England
B. evolution of the mill in America
1. early home village mill
2. individual mill buildings
3. improvements in construction
4. later construction (additions to the mills)
5. supporting buildings and improvements
a. firetowers
b. boilers
c. canal digging
d. elevators
e. fire protection systems
C. mill workers and housing
1. company responsibility
2. development of company owned sites
3. styles of housing
4. rise of independent housing
5. executive housing
D. surrounding town
1. religious buildings
2. civic architecture and its function
E. differences in New England and Southern developments
1. lifestyle
2. geography
3. economic
F. futures of mill architecture in its surviving state

New England Textile Mills and the Mill Village


I. History of Cotton Manufactures
A. effects of the Industrial Revolution
B. cotton manufactures in Britain
C. cotton manufactures and the corporate mill in America

II. Architecture of the resulting cotton mills and their villages
A. physical characteristics
1. geography and the demand for water power
2. antecedant methods from England
B. evolution of the mill in America
1. individual mill buildings
2. improvements in construction
3. later construction (additions to the mills)
4. supporting buildings and improvements
C. mill workers and housing
1. company responsibility
2. development of company owned sites
3. styles of housing
4. rise of independent housing
5. executive housing.
D. surrounding town
1. religious buildings
2. civic architecture and its function

Undershot wheel.

Breast wheel.

Overshot wheel. These three
drawings and that on the fol
lowing page are from Olier
Evans, The Yc ung Mil.-
Wright and Miller's CGde
12th ed. (Phila., InIsi
pls. 13,14, 15. "


The purpose of this study is to investigate the

development of New England textile mills from an

architectural standpoint. It has been the case in

the past to analize the growth of mills and textile

manufacturing from an economic and business aspect.

It has even been researched from the standpoint of

those who have actively involved themselves in its

development. However, there has only been a small

attempt to understand and communicate the generative

nature of the resulting architecture.

Textile mills and their respective villages and towns

display the impact of the Industrial Revolution in

the United States. From 1790 with the arrival of

Samuel Slater and the further interest of Francis

Cabot Lowell textiles have developed into one of the

largest and most influential industries in America.

With it towns have grown into cities and populations

have moved out from urban centers on the east coast

into the interior of our country. Their location

checked only by the need for a power source and


The intent of this research is to display the subsequent

development of industrial architecture and the other

building types which combined create the mill village

of the nineteenth century. Attention will be paid to

the antecedant types, precisely British, the solutions

to mill construction,to the development of low cost

housing, as well as civic and religious centers.

Combined these elements are the unique fabric of the

past century which still prevails in this century.


The Rise of the Industrial Revolution and the
Cotton Industry

Mechanization and industrialization in Europe and

especially in Great Britain had its roots in the slowly

changing, conservative culture of the eighteenth cent-

ury. However, with a rising class with increased wealth

and a certain ability to be mobile, this afforded

England because of its rising mercantile class, the

shift to modern machine production. Before 1800 power

had been supplied solely by animal and human labor,

reinforced by levers, pullies, running water, and mov-

ing air. The process by which man has replaced human

toil by powered machinery is what is meant by the

Industrial Revolution.

As Britain had staked out markets with her colonies in

America and in Europe, it built with it a mercantile

marine and a demand for her goods. The profit motive

as the driving force behind the British merchant took

an attitude of higher sales upon increased productivity.

The doors of cotton manufactures were open providing a

good probability of profit, if mechanization could

produce the volume necessary. The risk could be en-

dured with the potential for high returns.

As a result starting in the 1760's with the invention

of the spinning jenny, a long list of inventions were

developed revolving around the textile industry. This

was to last until the 1840's in England and the 1850's

in America due to the Civil War. Cotton was easily

industrialized as it was a new enterprise in England

and the Continent in comparison with the woolen trades

which was comfortable in its customary mode of operation.

Cotton then as a relativley new object of trade became

an outlet for the inventive mind of the eighteenth and

nineteenth centuries.

Because textiles along with iron production led the

way in manufactures, it holds for this century an analogy

of what has happened not only in the processes of mech-

anization and technology, but also in the social and

cultrual aspects of life. The architecture which resulted

is a social indicator of the period in which it was

built. In this time segemht of the nineteenth century

in particular with textiles a major economic force not

only in home industries but in mercantile trade, it

is an example of industry dictating a need for a variety

of building types to house a changing and expanding

factory system, to shelter its workers, and to provide

for the community to which cotton manufactures were to


The development of textiles in America as in many of

the social, cultural, and industrial energies was the

product of Britain. It is no surprise then to see a

similar pattern develop in America, and it is easier

to understand the American analogy in investigating the

British reality.

Section o.a.

.... ...4"-4"

-e i | i i Iii

o i i i i i i i

*/ \iW ( i i i i i i i Fl \
** a.el g-*-f ---4- -- --- -^-'-i-tsi*

....1 tC I .

-t-_-_ -i !. T- -A
Plan at 3rd. Storey
cale to10 0 to 20 o 40 so a F t.

Fig. 3.-Milford Warehouse, 1792-93





so0 0 10 200 Fact

Fig. 2.-The Derby Mills in 1820
(Drawn from Particulars of [the Strutts'] Derbyshire Estates According to the
Surveys of i8ig and i82o)

itt ~

~ 11
'I ~ __
I L I -
~H __ -, I
v-I --

2 Arm transmitting motion from saw
frame to the feed pole. It is attached to
an axle (not shown), and from this axle
an arm, 4 carries the upper end of the
feed pole, 3. The arm has a series of
holes so that the distance of the feed
pole end from the axle can be varied,
thus regulating the feed applied to the
rack wheel.

5 Rack or wrag wheel.

6 The carriage carrying the saw log.

7 The tracks it slides on.

8 The fender posts.

9 The saw and its frame that slides in
the fender posts.
ii The flutter wheel that drives the
14 The gig wheel for gigging back the
16 The log to be sawed.
20 Iron dogs for holding log to carriage.

Note The teeth on the underside of
the carriage that mesh with a small gear
on the rack wheel shaft and propel the
carriage are not shown.

Sq!& o 200 3Q Fect

Fig. 5.-William Strutt's Mills at Milford
(The Forge, Footbridge, Carpenter's Shop, the East Wing of the Old Mill and the
Mechanic's Shop were demolished during 1952-7)


Ul ] L

Pm4 TT TTTsT *&^i^.siu.t
r[rrrrrrrrrTn A
almiralL A


Scal 'o o o 10 W2 Mo 47 So

Fig. 6.-Belper West Mill, 1793-5



.c ......0.. i200 I0 Q0





Fig. 9.-William Strutt's Mills at Belper

Development of the Factory and Mill Community in Britain

The British cotton industry owes its first major factory

developments to Jedediah Strutt and Richard Arkwright.

Their inventiveness and shrewd business manner went hand

in hand to develop cotton spinning in England. Their

first 'successful' cotton factory of 1769 was a coopera-

tive venture which was to facilitate the growth of tex-

tiles to encompass all the fibres, natural and man-

made. It was the work of these men in the establishment

of the factory system in textiles which was to bring about

the mills and their villages. Still existing today, these

mills set the standard for the growth and development

of mills in America and in Europe. These leaders

in thier need for intelligent men are responsible for

the employ and education of people such as Samuel Slater.

Jedediah Strutt, financier, teamed together with William

Arkwright, inventor, to produce cotton goods. As a

result the first spinning mill was located in Notting-

ham. A slow county patent right and the factory's

success dictated a move in 1771 to establish the Crom-

ford mills powered by water rather than horsepower.

The Cromford site was located geographically at the

confluence of the upstream mines and the Derwent River.

Here there was no pre-existing village and no labor force.

Geography and its water resource for the first time

dictated location. This was to strongly influence

Samuel Slater in later years in America. The village

had to be built and workers employed. This was to

initiate a drastic change in the rural northern landscape.

Strutt and Arkwright as a result found themselves

not only in the mill and cotton spinning business but

also in housing.

In 1778 Strutt developed the Belper Mills, Milford

and earlier in 1777 the Birkacre site was developed in

conjunction with John Chadwick. Both utilized nearby

ironworks for the. manufacture of new equipment.

The Birk^acre site fell prey to the 'Ludites' on

October 4, 1780 at which time it was destroyed by


The stone and brick mill structures similar to the

commonplace agricultural barn and the 'not uncomely'

cottages were really new communities much like that

of Mellor and New Lanark, Robert Owens' utopian

mills. The mill village was not uncommon as ..."iron

masters and coal owners had to provide in some fashion

for their labour in remote parts...". The factory

village was an extension of the feudal village known

to the generation affected by this new industrialization.

The Derbyshire factories were the first model for the

cotton industrynot only in its buildings but in the

treatment of factory workers. Benevolent at the

most, workers labored at two shifts covering twenty four

hours in the day and were cared for not only in wages

but in inexpensive housing and in the company store.

The religious needs were also taken into account

with the construction of churches both at Belper and

Cromford. Education was strongly linked with religion

in the learning process and in 1784 the first sunday

school was opened at Cromford. It was a cheap solution

to two problems.

The American Revolution had little effect on the develop-

ment of the trade and by 1801 factory communities were

well established. The labor force was secure in women

and children with a few men for supervision as well as

mill building, machine making, and up keep. "The Arkwright

and Strutt Mills were multi-storeyed housing 300-400

workers apiece; each mill had its own water wheel and

the group was added to by the building of similar mills

close by."

By 1816 Robert Owen's New Lanark Mills and the Strutt's

Mills at Belper and Milford were the largest operations

in England. "The firms were essentially factory colonies."

Both were developed form mill units dependant upon

water power and remained faithful to water-spinning.

Their demise was slow and resulted from improvements

in technology which was realized by cheaper, increased

production elsewhere. These mills,however, have been

operating in the twentieth century.

Out of these developments Samuel Slater arose and

came to America to further develop his ideas and

the techniques that were used in England. The influence

of Arkwright and Strutt can be seen in almost every

aspect of mill community life. Slater and the men like

him who migrated into this country brought with them

not only the established norms of English mill communities

but their ideas of change. It is in this fashion that

America's industrial wealth began to grow.




Te -1St

The South Mill, Blclpcr


Textile Mills in America: Soutern New England and the
Waltham Plans

The establishment of the textile industry in America

was never contemplated by the British Government as

far as the colonies were concerned. Spinning and

weaving known to the settlers as a home industry was

accepted by all as a necessity. The responsibility

primarily fell to the females as it was their job to

provide the clothing for the immediate family. The

long process would produce just enough for their needs

so the danger of the English merchant losing buyers

was nonexistent. As long as the B itish ships brought

goods to the colonies there was no danger or need to

produce more textiles in this country. However, as the

colonies grew they sought reprieve from the taxes and

high prices of the British crown and merchants.. With

this the urge for independence grew stronger. The only

means by which the colonies could control their economic

lives was to develop their own means of self-sufficiency.

"As early as 1787, a Society was formed in Philadelphia,

under the name of the "Pennsylvania Society for the

Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts",

which made some progress in the manufacturing of various

goods, such as jeans, corduroys, fustians, plain and

flowered cloth, flaxen linens, and tow linens." The

machinery and equipment was the crudest. There were

minor attempts in Massachusetts at this same time to

promote textiles. Alexander and Robert Barr of Scot-

land were hired by a Mr. Orr to make spinning and roving

machines. Their work was completed in 1786 and along

with the work of Thomas Somers these were the first

cotton machines made in the United States.

The Beverly Company inaugurated manufacture in 1787 as

the first company to make progress in the manufacture

of cotton. However, none of the American enterprises

could compete with the British mills developed by

Strutt and Arkwright.

Other areas such as Rhode Isalnd (1788) attempted to

produce cloth, but it was not until after 1790 that any

progress was made. Moses Brown of Providence and

Almy and Brown of Providence were two concerns which

sought to develop textiles on a lager scale. But these

attempts seemed futile.

Samuel Slater, apprentice to Jedediah Strutt for over

six years at the Milford mills, came to America in 1789.

He had learned almost every aspect of the cotton production

process and memorized not only the process but the mech-

anics of reproducing the British method. No drawings

were available to him as it was prohibited to remove

them from the country, so he dedicated them to memory.

Almy and Brown secured his services and settled in

Pawtucket. In an old pulling mill in a clothier's

building the first yarn and cloth was produced by the

Arkwright waterpower principle. In 1793 Almy, Brown and

Slater built a small mill in the same community. Known

as Old Factory it was soon enlarged and continued to

grow. Five years later Slater went into partnership

with Oziel Wilkenson, Timothy Green, and William

Wilinson. They opened Samuel Slater and Co.,shortly

thereafter with Slater owning fifty percent of the stock.

From this mill five or six men removed themselves during

a riot and strike for higher wages. These men went on

to other communities on the premise of establishing

their own businesses. It did facilitate the spread

of the cotton industry in the New England area, however,

they did not rise above the standards of the Slater

mills for many years.

Another boon to the cotton manufactures in the United

States was British and European upheavals at this time.

From the American Revolution and the desire to be

self-sufficient brought about the Embargo of 1807

where imported goods were banned from the ports of the

United States. This along with the war of 1812

separated American economic concerns from the traditions

of Europe. The fact that cotton was grown in the South

and New England supplied the transportation and machinery

made textiles a self-sustaining commodity ready to fill

the gap of the lost European imports.

The second group of mills in the progression of American

textiles was those that were developed by Francis Cabot

Lowell. The Waltham factory was the first to house

all processes of raw cotton to woven fabric under one

roof, thus stepping into a new era of manufacturing.

Lowell went to England in 1812 and was welcomed as a

businessman/importer and probably was shown a great deal

of the manufacturing process while at the mill sites.

He digested a great deal of technical information and

came back to establish his own mills at Waltham in 1814.

Lowell as a businessman knew the need for cheap goods

at volume sales and that his products must have outlets

specializing in marketing, distribution, and collecting.

The product which started could not be financed singly

resulting in the formation of the Boston Associates.

They were the financial backers and the executive board

members for the rising mill indusrty of Lowell's creation.

This group in the succeeding years became so entwined

that they overlapped ownership and management to include

the mills of Manchester, N.H., Lawrence, Chicopee, and

Tauton, Massachusetts, as well as York and Saco in


This corporate body is an example of the developing

corporate mill fothe early to mid 1800's. Their

financial backing allowed for greater expansion and

improvements in processes. They were far from the

single mills of Souhtern New England which had developed

earlier. Lowell and Manchester with the Amoskeag mills

are two examples of the large corporate mills in America.

It is from these mills that the town schemes can be

more fully comprehended. Just as Arkwright and Strutt

found themselves supplying not only mills but housing,

so too these major American factories were faced with

the same problems. The mills and manufacturing came first

but the executives and workers alike dictated the develop-

ment of the mill villages, towns, and eventually the

urban manufacturing centers of the Northeast. Even as

late as 1815 this country was hostile toward manufactur-

ing. It was the opening of new agricultural lands in

the west that allowed an easing of tension and the

expansion of the east coast as an industrial center.



Physical Characteristics

The mills of Britain and especially those of Arkwright

and Strutt established the use of water rather than

horse power to drive the spinning and weaving machinery.

As a result when Slater began to promote and develop

mills in New England, the basic criteria for location

was water as an available power source. New England

in direct comparison with the South had a bountiful

supply of rivers whose fall lines were close to the


From the lower coast of Maine to the borders of New

York State, including their interiors, rivers provided

the power necessary. In addition this region's

humidity as well as its portcities provided the added

incentive along with the financial basis for location.

Transportation of goods and materials as well as workers

was provided by water. The many factories existant

by 1814 were of the single mill variety utilizing the

river to its fullest.

The mills that further developed in the nineteenth

century were usually located along the more powerful

whose force could be diverted by canal to suppo t

many wheels. The Saco River in Maine, the Piscatiqua

in New Hampshire, the Merrimack in Massachusetts,

the Connecticutt and Housatonic Rivers,in Connecticutt,

and the Blackstone River in Rhose Island are examples

of rivers whose potential were not met prior to the

War of 1812.

The antecendant mill of England not so much out of

tradition but out of necessity for power determined

the building location. However, in the early part

of the nineteenth century, steam and its application

to mechanics altered the approach to location. It

was now any available water source rather than the

thrust of a powerful downward flow that positioned the

mill on the landscape. Steam and the turbine became

a new source of power for the mills and it increased

the carrying capacity of any given river system.

This allowed the growth of mill complexes along

the river banks rather than scattered developments

of little consequence.

Cross Section of the Pitched Roof Type of Mill

The pitched or barn roof
on an Early Mill

An Old Mill with the "Factory Type" Roof

A, ,""C i,

I. ... .... 4 o 1

Cross section of the "factory" or "lantern"
type of roof


t ;:.

Evolution of the Mill Building

The buildings were a form generated by the equipment

and the necessity of light, air, and free flowing

interior space. The elimination of columns, the extraction

of dust and lint, the insulation against the cold

climate, as well as the maximization of floor area

for continuous assembly line processes established and

predicted changes in the building form. Style as

we shall see later was decoration rather than function.

The major imput was from the inventor/engineer and

styles were a recessive rather than a dominant character-


The original textile mill structure in the United

States established by Slater was in a clothier's

warehouse. This then was to be the prototype used not only

by Slater but by those who copied him. The necessity

of the inclusion of those elements mentioned previously

were accomplished in a manner of modifying the existing

form of storage facilities such as these. The barn

or warehouse form with modification has become the

textile mill. This is not to neglect that the American

type is a duplicate of the British whose antecedants

date to the feudal village and the new construction

prompted by the mercantile expansion of urban areas.

The early mill building such as a gristmill or sawmill

would have been the place of initial development of

single mills as water power was readily available

and shelter provided for. However, it must be

emphasized that such industry was discouraged by the

British crown in the colonies and it wasn't until

Slater's arrival in 1790 that a single building type

appeared in New England.

Steady improvements in construction and form followed

closely the developments in new equipment and machinery.

The development of cast iron was of primary importance

during the growth of textiles, causing not only a

change in machinery but in the building materials

used in construction of the mills.

It must be noted that America opposed manufactures of

any sort until the Embargo of 1807. It was an over-

all fear of disrupting the rural, agricultural, social

structure of this developing period in America.

Their fear was deep seated in the British examples of

northern rural areas turned into slums of industrialization.

However, in America the small cotton mill escaped notice

for a time and was centered in only a small segment

of the reaches of the Northeast. It was demanded that

the larger mills such as Lowell and Amoskeag provided

the solutions to the problems of a new social structure.

The individual mill stucture soon grew to encompas

the physical attributes, of weirs and dams, machine

shops, houses, inns, truck shops, churches, chapels,

and manager's mansions, This was to become a typical

factory system community or mill village. In England

the Derbyshire Mills were to take on these characteristics


Improvements in Construction

The greatest impact upon construction of American

mills was the development of the Zachariah Allen

Mills in North Provedence, Rhode Island. In 1822

Allen erected a mill utilizing heavy timber and plank-

ing for floors and mortar-set shingles for roofing,

seeking a means of reducing the cause of fire and

the high insurance rates from the then existant insur

ance companies. Being distrubed by the lack of protec-

tion that current building materials afforded and the

danger of combustion he outfitted his building with

an unusual amount of fire extinguishers, pumps, hydrants,

pipes and hoses. Even though such precautions were

made the insurance company refused to reduce his rates.

Thus in 1835 on July 18 Allen and the board members

of the mill inaugurated the 'Mutual Fire Insurance

for Mills, Machinery, Etc.' The requirements for

coverage soon developed into a construction and

materials schedule allowing for little room for

modification from the standard type.

Exterior materials went from the early clapboard

structures to stone and brick allowing for increased

height as well as fire protection. It also increased

the amount of floor loading that could be transferred

to the ground. The factory monitor roof soon disap-

peared along with the steeply pitched roofs prevalent

in the English prototype. The attics were converted

from storage to work spaces with the double later roof.

In many cases the attic floor had been attached to

the ceiling by iron rods. This was to be abandoned

when it was discovered that during a fire the roof

and floor would fall into the floors below.

By 1850 thin 1" thick stock wood construction with

2" X 12" planks 2' on center was the practice,for

roofs. This too was discovered to be too much fuel

for the fire. As a result 'slow-burning'construction

came into being in 1852. Thick planking with a mas-

sing of joists into one beam became the practice.

First applied in Manchester, N.H. timbers were 8'to

10' on center with 3" planking covered with a 1"

overlay. This was to parallel the development of

castiron and only to be exceeded when metal became

an economical item.

The Strutt mills in the 1790's utilized some cast iron

and were to become the first 'fire resistent' multi-

storeyed buildings. The French did however, utilize

earthenware pots and tiles in the Theatre du Palais

Royal, Paris. This was not accepted here aa a

standard building practice primarilyAto the manufacture

of brick and the availability of timber.

Although iron was used in 1795 for beams in the West

Mills and the Derby Mills in 1796 it was not until

after 1804 when the rebuilding of the North Mills

occurred that a total building was framed in iron

for the purpose of textile manufactures. An excerpt

from the Rees's Encyclopedia of the period states:

The Mill: side and end walls are
built up as usual. The several floors
are composed of brick arches, with
mall rise and 9'-0" span. Arches
spring from iron columns,erected one
upon the other through the entire
height of the mill. They are connected
by cast iron beams and girders, one of
which extends fromthe top of every
column to the next. In an opposite
direction to these girdets., each pair
of columns is tied together, across
the arch, by a wrought iron bar,
which has an eye at each end, to be
hooked over the tops of the columns.
This resists the lateral thrust of
the arch. Thus, though every floor
is formed of a system of arches,
like a bridge, yet the lateral strain
of each is supported by iron ties,
so that each arch stands by its own
supports, independent of its neighbors.
The arches are of only one brick thick-
ness, and are covered over at the top
by a floor of paving bricks to make
a flat surface above, the haunches
of the bricks being filled by rubbish.
The iron ties across the arches are
concealed within the brickwork of
the arch. The roof is of cast iron.
The space between the two columns in
the roof forms a small room, which
is used as a school room for the work
people on Sunday.
The mill conatins fifteen arches
in length. The floors are continued
beyond the end wall by two additional
arches, giving a small room on each
floor, which was occupied by the count-
ing room staircase, and the stove
which warms the mill in winter, and

also a cranefor drawing up the goods
to the machines once the various floors.
The wing which consists of six arches,
projects from the middle of the' mill.
The width, both of the mill and the
wing, is composed of three lengths
of arches, having three iron girders
that they rise from, and two columns
to support them. The arches in the
ground floor, or cave of the mill,
are supported by very strong piers,
instead of fion columns. These piers
are founded very firmly in the earth,
and every precaution taken to prevent
their subsiding under the great weight
they carry. The columns of the first
floor are erected immediately on the
tops of these piers.

The tower so often seen as a part of the mill factory

was often the storage area or holding tank for water.

The tank and fire stair occupied the familiar tower

and cupola. This element in particular became the

single most decorated or styled part of the entire

mill. The succeeding revivals in architecture

can be seen slightly in the mill facade but it was

in plan a purely functional relationship. Allen's

insurance company who had initiated changes inthe

building practices of mills in this country, stabilized

its form in the requirements which were dictated.

It had little aesthetics and often times restricted

innovation. As a result the mill remained basically

the same however its safety was far superior to

those that had come before.

*Is 24 30
I nr-he a

Fig. 4.-Milford Warehouse, 1792-93
Structural Details



W. 'l

SIIs 1802-03 0. 1803-04
S4b4om pan B AGE bm span TR u

54 ")&. YLa4L

'- .4 _- -- -r - --- 1 .. -



w^-' X(^/^ ^^ ^ ^

Fig. 11.-Bearns in Belper North Mill
(Goodrich, Journal, August, 1804. Although Goodrich, does not
state that he was in Belper when he made the drawing, the accuracy
of his work has been confirmed by H. R. Johnson and A. W.
Skcmpton. The same sheet of the Journal contains a description of
the Belper Round Mill)


floor lee

ScalIe1 0 1 2. a 4 6Ee~

Fig. 12.-Detail of 17-foot Beam in Belper South Mill, I8I 1-12


View of a Portion of Ceiling Showing the Arrangement of
Parmelee's Patent Automatic Fire Extinguisher

*7~Q -
___________ 1'
I ______

'H ____
1' ____

Fig. i. Map of Lowell, 1820-25




I z-71

75 TioV i [Ii I'

Fig. 2. The Plant of the Merrimack Manufacturing
Company ca. 1850

I. I L I'


Uu Fig. 3-
i -A Map of Part of
S! , '' i Lowell ca. 1852,
- Showing the Plant
n "- *' and Housing of the
Merrimack Manufac-
i rAda'cn it'.P o Ip er t
during Company and
i1 Adjacent Property

-it r~ i-

J 11

The Mill Worker and Housing

With the development of the Mill building and textiles in New

England housing has been a necessary part of its growth. Dur to

the 'rural' nature of new factories settlements had to be provided

for the workers, who whether immigrant or city dweller, had neither

the time nor the financial resources at the outset to provide their

own housing. As an incentive the mill owners sought to attract

both skilled, unskilled, adults and children to their factories

by providing adequate comfortable accommodations.

It is with the development of the factory system that rental

living was initiated. Through the peak of textile manufacturing

prior to the Civil War this was the case at any major factory

site. The popular idea of Robert Owen's utopias spring from the

period of development when worker housing and factory conditions

began to decline.

In America however, two major factories provide a prime example of

the town development associated with textiles; Lowell, Massachusetts

and Manchester, New Hampshire. Both of these enterprises were

concerned with a total living-working complex both for workers

and executives alike.

In particular Lowell wished to create an independent industrial

city. He saw it as a utopian financial venture not a social

Owenism. Central in his thoughts were work and the resulting

city was strictly divided into employees and citizenry. Lowell

purchased the necessary acreage and built with little regard to

the environs until the company needed room to expand. The

expansion of both mills and housing disrupted the internal

community as it expanded along the river.

The Merrimack Company buildings both mills and housing were

arranged around a quadrangle with a grassy plot. This subdivision

allowed a neighborhood scheme to grow without disrupting the

smaller grouping.

In both instances and including the insurance mills of New

England the row house was characteristic. Long and narrow, the

row house was usually three stories in height with adjacent

masonry fire walls and central stair hall. The apartments of

today have not altered much from this concept, however the rooms

of the row house were small and anywhere from 2-6 people would

reside in a room.

The style was modest and easily recognized by its starkness.

Entries were grouped in pairs with numerous window openings and

dormers in the attic rooms. Its conservativeness states the

condition of the worker.

It must be said that the worker in the factory had possibly an

equal standing with the rest of the population as this was not a

new condition.

The boarding house and double houses were detached living units for

the single young women and children and the male worker/supervisor

respectively. Boarding houses often offered shelter at 1/3 1/2

the cost to the worker and meals were often provided.

Housing was a part of the mill complex as a rule with the factory

building as the focal point. The street plan was regular and simple,

planned and self contained including tenements, row houses, boarding

houses, church, school or library and the company store. The

growth of the town as the mill increased production and population

followed a decline from an idealistic view to one of 'unbridled'

nationalism. The rest has been ugliness and sordiness.

Real estate sales adjacent to mills began to hem the mill in and

increase its density. Manchester, New Hampshire was the only city

to include in its establishment zoning ordinances. Conditions

were set before land was sold.with material restrictions on the

exterior and also provided for special financing. In this way

35 1/2 acres were developed, however, there was no consideration

for the housing of construction crews. As a result slums appeared

for the poor and underpaid workmen. There had been a desire to

separate the skilled workers from the unskilled within this scheme.

The rise of independent housing was more often controlled by the

mill owner through property sales. This however, did not protect

the mill surroundings from being altered after the initial sale.

By the 1830's non mill buildings: housing, commercial structures

and transient accommodations began to appear more regularly.

Inns and hotels developed rapidly with the growth of the mill and

the inclusion of rail travel ancillary to goods transport.

The single family house was usually wood framed 1-1 1/2 stories

in height and often were double houses with side entrances. These

houses were not substandard however. Their lack of the decorative

style of the period visually indicates a lesser economic level.

Executive housing on the other hand was designed and constructed

with the latest revival style. These men and their families were

not only more financially able but their knowledge through travel

and leisure allowed them exposure to the vogue of the period. Not

unusually large, the executive houses were more typical of what

might be found in more urban areas. Greek Revival, Italienette and

the other styles are represented and are modifications of the

building plan of a half century earlier.


1 ,"



Pig. 4. View of Dutton Street Looking Northeast (Noyes)

Fig. 5. Plan of 22 Dutton Street (Moulthrop)


A5 BUILT CA. 1825
5 t 10- 20 1 Fl.





M. AS BUILT CA. 1845

0 S 1o0 S o0 21 FT.



Fig. 42. Plan of the "New Block" of Boarding Houses
Built in Lowell ca. 1845 (Moulthrop)

Fig. 43. Alley behind the New Block, Lowell (Noyes)

7.. . ,:

'*' ' A ~ u( 1

The Surrounding Town

The inclusion of religious structures in the mill complex was from

the start a product of men like Lowell who sought to provide not

only for his workers but for himself. As immigrants increased so

too the demand for different religious meeting places increased.

These usually were conservative in design following the New England

meeting house style. Revivalism in style can be seen more clearly

in the later structures of the 1830's and 1840's.

The problem of dealing with education as well as religious needs were

combined into the sunday school system. Inaugerated in England

in 1784 it was to grow in the factory communities.

The rise of the commercial function started with the company store.

The necessary goods and supplies were provided initially by the mill

however, when the town surrounding the mill increased the volume

was handed over to private enterprise. These shops were taken

directly from urban and port cities linked to their supplies by

river traffic and the new rail system.

The mill town by the end of the last century had been fully engulfed

by external building. The decline of many of the smaller mills saw

the dissolution of the factories and its housing modified beyond

recognition. Those mills that have found alternative industries

in this century have held only a fragment of the system developed

during the period of 1790 and 1860. Today, the destruction of these

mills are being carefully scrutinized and alternatives found.

Their construction and enormity warrents re-use within the

community. North Adams, Massachusetts, cities in New Hampshire;

Manchester, Dover, Rochester, and others have all sought to hold

on to this segment of industrial architecture for it is these

elements around these towns that have grown, developed and

given economic meaning to their existence.


Coolidge, John Mill andMansion: 1820-1865
New York: Columbia University Press, 1942.

Dick, Rudolph C. Nathanial Griffin (1796-1876) of
Salem and his Naumeg Steam Cotton Company,
New York: Newcomen Society of North America,

Edwards, David F. Saco-Lowell 1813-1950,
New York: Newcomen Society in North America,

Fitch, James Marston American Building: The Historical
Forces That Shaped It, New York: Schocken
Books, 1973.

Gidion, Gigfried Mechanization Takes Command, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1948.

Griffin, Richard Origins of Southern Cotton Manufacture:
1807-16, Textile Historical Review, Vol. 1,
Muncie, Indiana: Cotton History Group, 1960.

Hamlin, Talbot Greek Revival Architecture in America,
New York: Dover, 1944.

Historic American Buildings Survey The New England
Textile Mill Survey; Series 11, Washington:
United States Department of the Interior, 1971.

Little, Frances Early American Textiles, New York:
Century, 1931.

Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Co. The Factory
Mutuals: 1835-1935, Providence: M.M.F.I.Co.,
Olmstead, Frederick Law The Cotton Kingdom, New York:
Knopf, 1970.

Rhyne, Jennings J. Some Southern Cotton Mill Workers
and Their Villages, Chapel Hill: Universityof
North Carlina, 1930.

Simpson, William Hays America's Textile Industry,
Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1966.

Life in Mill Communities,
Clinton, S.C.: P. C. Press, 1943.


Simpson, William Hays Southern Textile Communites,
Charlotte: Dowd, 1948.

Straw, Col. William Parker Amoskeag in New Hampshire:
An Epic in American Industry, New York:
Newcomen Society in England: North American
Branch, 1948.

Textile Historical Review [ed.] Notes on the Arcadia
(Florida) Manufacturing Company, Textile
Historical Review Vol.2 Muncie: Cotton History
Group, 1961.

Ward, Elmer L. A Healthy Tradition, The Colorful
Romance of the Horse Blanket, the Angora Goat,
and Goodall-Sanford, Inc., New York: Newcomen
Society in North America, 1951.

White, George S. Memoir of Samuel Slater connected with
A History of the Rise and Progress of the Cotton
Manufacture in England and America, New York:
Augustis M. Kelly, 1907,(reprint).

Zimiles, Martha and Murray Early American Mills,
New York: ClarksonN. Potter, 1973.



Process Chart for Flax Linen






Process Chart for Wool Woolen and Worsted










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