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Maine Mining & Industrial Journal, April 8, 1892, Page 8 NEWPORT’S AWAKENING The New Woolen Mill Plant of the East Pond Manufacturing Company, and How It Was Built [Correspondence of The Journal]

Forty-five years ago Newport was one of the most prosperous towns between the two rivers, but with the unfortunate loss by fire of the Southwick Tannery in the spring of 1846 (the largest tannery in the state at that time) the business of the town began to wane, and with the exception of a few spasmodic throes has continued to drop back in population and wealth, till the town has gained the inevitable name of “Dead Sleepy Newport.” Several times during the past thirty years efforts have been made to induce outside capital to locate industries in the town, that would give employment to our people and bring in others. Every effort in this direction ended in failure that only tended to make our situation worse than before. Notwithstanding the natural advantages were all that we could desire, with a first-class waterpower that only needed improvement, yet every turn of fortune’s wheel rolled us under. Year by year the necessities of life compelled many citizens to seek employment elsewhere, reducing the population to an alarming extent, and property decreased in value $17,759, during the decade of 1870-1880. But in the spring of 1891 one of our citizens concluded to make one last effort to break the spell that had held us so many years, and if possible to place Newport on a level with her neighboring towns. With this object in view, our respected townsmen, Charles Sawyer, Esq., started a book soliciting subscriptions to stock among our own citizens with the view to purchasing the waterpower and erecting thereon such industries as would be conducive to the 1


best interest of the town. Receiving sufficient encouragement to continue his efforts he soon called to his aid other influential citizens who assisted him in prosecuting the work. There were a few doubters who continued to say “You can't do it;” but the subscriptions continued to come in, and on the 9th day of April, the stock book contained nearly $30,000 of subscriptions. The waterpower of the Merrill Brothers was bonded for one month from May 1 st. The company was then legally incorporated under the name of the Newport Manufacturing Company, and the organization was perfected with Charles Sawyer as President, and S. P. Judkins, Elliott Walker, O. R. José, E. R. Dow, P. L. Bennett, W. C. Manning, W. I. Leavitt and J. M. Sanborn, Directors. By-laws were adopted, an assessment of 30 percent made on the stocks subscribed, and on the 15th day of May the title to all the rights of Merrill Bros. was passed to the new corporation and Mr. Sawyer had the pleasure of seeing his pet scheme launched upon the business world. June 24th it was voted to build a six sett woolen mill. Commuters were appointed to attend to the various details of construction and on the 4th of July the formal breaking of ground was made by President Sawyer turning up the earth in the presence of the assembled citizens, and the boom of the cannon proclaimed the work had begun. Five days later the work of excavation was commenced under the direction of S. P. Judkins, who superintended the work personally, and was ready for contractor M. C. Foster of Waterville to begin laying the foundation on the 15th day of August. The construction of the canal and flume to connect with the mill pond was prosecuted under the supervision of Elliott Walker, Esq. The brickwork of the basement, dye house, boiler houses and chimney, was done by Messrs. Fred Josslyn of Auburn and J. L. Josslyn & Son of Newport. C. W. French, the veteran architect and carpenter of this town, was master mechanic on the woodwork. Everything progressed favorably, one kind of work following 2


another without delay. The main structure is 125 x 55 feet, four stories high, the lower or basement story being of brick. To this are attached a commodious boiler and dye house. It is a singular fact that only one and a half days’ time was lost on account of rain from the time the frame was raised to the completion of the roof. The machinery was purchased and put in place under the direction of Charles Green, and the mill was finished complete on January 1, 1892, and lease for six years to the East Pond Manufacturing Company, who are organized as a stock company under the general laws of Maine. The present members of the company are E. W. Shaw, S. P. Judkins, P. L. Bennett, W. I. Leavitt and A. L. Harvey, all successful and prominent businessmen of the town. S. P. Judkins is Treasurer and Bookkeeper, and Charles Green is Agent and Superintendent. Mr. Green was formally with the Assabet Mfg. Co., Maynard, Mass., lately of the John S. Holden Mfg. Co., of Bennington, VT, a gentleman of large experience in the business, and a practical manufacturer. The plant consist of six sets of Cleveland's latest improved 48-inch cards, seven of the most improved Johnson & Bassett mules, and thirty Knowles improved looms. The polishing department is furnished with Rodney Hunt’s fulling mills and washer, Cleveland's dryer, brush and extractor, Parks & Woolson’s 6-4 shear and one 6-4 double-bed Miller press. The picking department as well as the dying is complete in itself. The mill is furnished with the “Standard” dynamo and 200 incandescent lights, put in by C. B. Story of Brunswick. Aside from these no lights or fires in any way are allowed to be used on the premises outside of that under the boilers. Grinnell’s automatic sprinklers are on every floor, together with hydrant attachments connected with the force-pumps located in the wheelhouse. Hydrants are placed at convenient distances outside. These appliances together 3


with a vigilant night watchman make it almost an impossibility to sustain loss by fire. The power is furnished by one Holyoke Hercules wheel under 13 feet head, fed by the waters of Lake Sebasticook, which has an area of 7,500 acres, with the waters of Dexter and Stetson flowing in. The first piece of goods was produced on the 24th day of March, eight and one half months from the commencement of work on the plant. The goods are specialties in fine dress fabrics, are warranted strictly all wool and fast colors, and are consigned to Leavitt & Mitchell Bros., 74 Leonard Street, New York, where they are handled by Joseph B. Williams, one of the most popular and successful salesman on the Boston and New York markets. Samples are being produced and orders taken on the same that insure work for the mill for months ahead. The mill is situated on the line of the Maine Central Railroad, and directly opposite the station in the village. A side track runs within thirty feet of the elevator entrance, which saves the expense of all trucking, and gives the plant the most direct communication possible with the business world. With the well-known business capacity and unlimited capital of the gentleman who compose the company, backed by the ability of the superintendent, the East Pond Manufacturing Company will establish a reputation for its goods that will rank with the best makers in New England. Every available tenement in Newport village is occupied and still the demand is made daily for more. Many new houses will be erected the coming summer and all kinds of mechanics will find employment in the town. At the condensed milk factory work is being pushed vigorously forward to the end that milk can be received by first of May. Space forbids a description of the milk plant at this time. The two plants will employee more than 200 people in addition to those already at work in the lumber mill and carriage shops. These new enterprises have given us a 4


lift ahead that will be permanent, and others will be added in the near future, some of which are already under advisement. No more “Sleepy Newport,� but wide awake, with an eye to business every day in the week, Sundays excepted. F. M. Shaw Newport, March 22, 1892

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Newport Woolen Mill  

An article transcribed from an article in the Maine Mining & Industrial Journal dated April 8, 1892.