Historic Structures

Boston Manufacturing Company, Waltham Massachusetts

According to business historians Glenn Porter and Harold c. Livesay, the Boston Manufacturing Company (BMC) was the first truly modern factory in the United States. Founded in 1813 by Francis Cabot Lowell, Patrick T. Jackson, and others, the BMC integrated and mechanized production from raw material to finished product under a single management and within a single factory. This new industrial form, says textile manufacturing historian Caroline F. Ware, soon came to dominate the cotton industry, because it marked a radical departure from all that had gone before, differing almost as much from the early mill as the latter had from its handicraft predecessors. Much of the BMC's success stemmed from its innovative development of an entire series of new or improved textile machines. According to Harvard business historian George Sweet Gibb, the power loom of the Boston Manufacturing Company affected the American cotton textile industry as no other innovation since 1790 had done. It signalized the awakening of American mechanics and the end of their slavish dependence on British technology. Moreover, says Ware, it was power-loom weaving that furnished the technical basis for reorganization of the factory and for a practically unlimited extension in the size of the factory plant. In her prize-winning 1931 study of the early New England cotton textile industry, Caroline F. Ware asserts that the story of the New England cotton industry is the story of the industrialization of America. This industry brought the factory system to the United States and furnished the laboratory wherein we worked out industrial methods characteristic of the nation. Ware and most other economic historians date the beginning of the American cotton textile industry to 1790, the year in which William Almy and Moses Brown, utilizing the ideas and skills of English immigrant Samuel Slater, opened the country's first successful cotton mill in Providence, Rhode Island. Following the Providence example, a number of entrepreneurs started cotton mills during the next two decades, and by 1810 some 168 cotton factories with 90,000 spindles were operating in the United States. These mills struggled, however, against competition from cheap goods imported from England and against shortages of skilled workers and investment capital. The trade embargo of 1807-9 and the war of 1812 altered these conditions significantly by shutting off foreign competition, freeing commercial capital for investment in manufacturing, and sparking a wave of new mill construction. Chief among these new enterprises stood the Boston Manufacturing Company, which was organized, says Ware, along a new industrial form that soon came to dominate the cotton industry and that marked a radical departure from all that had gone before, differing almost as much from the early mill as the latter had from its handicraft predecessors.


Whittier Theatre, Whittier California

The Whittier Theatre was not Whittier's first movie house, but it was its most prominent one. At least three other motion picture theaters preceded the Whittier Theatre: the Family Theatre (124 S. Greenleaf Avenue) and the Optic (111 S. Greenleaf Avenue) were both operated by the G.H. Keipp family sometime after 1900, probably in the 1910s [Whittier Daily News, n.d., c. 1910s] the Scenic Theatre was in business at 211 E. Philadelphia when the Whittier Theatre opened its doors in the summer of 1929. When the Whittier Theatre was being planned, the owners deliberately selected a site on the outskirts of town to escaoe the Whittier blue laws that would have prohibited showing movies on Sunday [Tribune/News December 13, 1987]. The Whittier Theatre was designed as a combination movie palace and stage theater, and it is noteworthy that the premiere gala included not only the screening of Monte Blue's From Headquarters but three special vaudeville numbers. The relative isolation of the theater from the main commercial district of uptown Whittier seems to have had an adverse effect on the complex's businesses for several years. Although the two principal adjacent businesses (the McNees Cafe and the Whittier Pharmacy) were stable, city directories indicate that, up until about 1936, other businesses came and went, and there were several vacancies. The heyday of the Whittier Theatre lasted from the late 1930s until the 1950s, when television began making inroads on movie-going. Excerpts from newspaper articles make it clear that the theater is fondly remembered by many of the area's residents as a popular social focal point and an important part of their younger years.


Chalfonte Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts opened The Chalfonte Hotel, or Chalfonte House as it was first called, on June 25, 1868 near the corner of Pacific and North Carolina Avenues in Atlantic City. The Roberts' choice of this corner was no doubt determined by its proximity to the train depot to the north and the ocean to the south. Because the tides were continually increasing the beach area, the Roberts found it possible to move the hotel forward twice, once in 1879 and again in 1889. They also extended their main building and added subsidiary structures to it. The Chalfonte passed through a period of transition in management during the eighteen nineties and came under the control of Henry W. Leeds around 1900. Leeds embarked on a major expansion program and in 1904 constructed Atlantic City's first tall, iron frame hotel. It is this structure that people usually mean today when they recall staying at the Chalfonte. The original structure, however, was not demolished. As a comparison of the 1903 site plan with the 1904 site plan shows, it was simply moved sixty feet to the west, re-clad in brick, and integrated into the larger hotel complex. Atlantic City is the creation of the second half of the nineteenth century. It was the result of steadily increasing urbanization with its inevitable need for some place where the masses could escape from work and city streets to leisure, romance, and sea breezes. Those with time enough and money could go to Cape May, where well-to-do Philadelphians mingled with their counterparts from southern states. Even the well-to-do, however, may have found the long journey an inconvenience, while those whose work week ended on Saturday afternoon and started again on Monday morning simply had no means of escape from their sweltering row houses.


Longwood - Nutt's Folly, Natchez Mississippi

Designed by the noted Philadelphia architect, Samuel Sloan, and constructed in 1860-62, Longwood is the largest and most elaborate of the octagon houses built in the United States. The mansion, which was never completed on the interior, was to have 32 rooms each with their own fireplace. Longwood is also one of the finest surviving examples of an Oriental Revival style residence which along with Olana, a Persian villa designed by R. M. Hunt for Frederick Church and built in 1870-72 near Hudson, New York, illustrates the exotic phase of architectural romanticism that flourished in mid-19th century America. Longwood is interesting as an earlier, less academically detailed version of the Moslem Revival which uniquely combines stylistic eclecticism of both Moslem and Italianate, with the octagonal form first fostered by the phrenologist and amateur architectural theorist Orson Squire Fowler. Although never completed on the interior, the fine detailing of the exterior has survived in an amazing state of preservation. When the document of the building itself is combined with the papers of its owner, Haller Nutt, and of its architect, Samuel Sloan, an unusually complete insight is gained into the architectural theory of the period as well as the creative process involved in a unique and beautiful work of art.


Chelan Butte Lookout - Fire Watchtower, Chelan Washington

Euro-American settlement of the lower Lake Chelan country gained momentum in the 1890s as transportation and access to the remote area improved. Homesteaders who settled in the vicinity of Chelan Butte turned to raising livestock, grazing their animals on the grasses of the sparsely forested butte. The summit of the butte, 3835' above sea level, provided a dramatic vantage point overlooking Lake Chelan and the forests and mountains of Okanogan and Chelan Counties. It is possible that Chelan Butte was used for fire surveillance purposes prior to any recorded Forest Service use of the site. The earliest documented use of the butte for fire surveillance is the notation on a 1922 Forest Service map of a triangulation station at the summit accessible by trail. At that time, the geographic location of Chelan Butte was outside the Wenatchee National Forest and within the jurisdiction of the Chelan Ranger District on the old Chelan National Forest. Forest Service employee Simeon (Sim) Beeson, a forty-year veteran of the Chelan Ranger District, confirmed that in the 1920s and early 1930s a tent camp was located at the summit. Another long-time Forest Service employee, Marion McFadden, recalled the existence of a rudimentary gabled lookout cabin in the summer of 1938, his first season on the butte. In his personal possession is a 1938 photograph of himself as a young lookout man standing in front of the grade-level cabin.


Springfield Plantation, Fayette Mississippi

Thomas Marston Green, Jr. (1758-1813), builder of Springfield, was a member of the first general assembly of the Territory of Mississippi and the second man to represent the territory in the U. S. Congress. He was a son of Colonel Thomas M. Green (1723-1805), who was instrumental in the establishment of the short-lived Bourbon County (which included the Natchez district) by Georgia in 1785. Thomas M. Green, Jr., was a brother of Abner Green, territorial treasurer of Mississippi, and brother-in-law of Cato West, acting governor of the territory, 1803-1805, and a Jefferson County delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1817. Colonel Thomas Hinds, who distinguished himself in the Pensacola and New Orleans campaigns with Jackson and was also active in the territorial period and early statehood of Mississippi, was a son-in-law of Thomas M. Green, Jr. The Springfield estate was retained by members of the Green family until 1850, and in 1914 the house and 533 acres were acquired by James H. Williams. Local tradition maintains that Andrew Jackson and Rachel Donelson Robards were married at Springfield in the summer of 1791. One of the earliest known references to the event is in The Memories of Fifty Years (1870) by W. H. Sparks, whose own wife was a daughter of Abner Green: Jackson came and married her [Rachel], in the house of Thomas M. Green. Sparks' relationship to the Green family would seemingly add credence to his account, but he diminishes his own reliability by such devices as attributing entire paragraphs of verbatim conversation to Jackson. In A History of Mississippi by Robert Lowry and William H. McCardle (1891), the tradition of the Springfield marriage was restated, as well as elaborated:
General Andrew Jackson was married at the home of the Hon. Thomas Marstori Green, on the northern bank of Coles Creek, in what is now Jefferson County, in the summer of 1791, to Mrs. Rachel Robards.... the ceremony was performed by Colonel Thomas Green, who acted in his capacity of magistrate in and for Bourbon County.
No documentation for the above is given; in actuality, however, Bourbon County was officially abolished in 1788.

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