Historic Structures

Wamsutta Mill, New Bedford Massachusetts

Date added: December 24, 2009 Categories: Massachusetts Industrial

The two buildings, built in 1868 and 1898, were home to the Wamsutta Mills, one of the most famous textile mills in the country. From the 1840s through the 1950s, Wamsutta was one of the most well-recognized brands for fine sheets and linens, as well as numerous other textile products. The mills were last occupied by Shepard-Justin Clothing Co., which manufactured men's suits and uniforms until the company went bankrupt in 2002.

Wamsutta Company's textile mill was founded by Thomas Bennett, Jr. on the banks of the Acushnet River in 1846 and opened in 1848. It was the first of many textile mills that gradually came to supplant whaling as the principal employer in New Bedford. Other mills in the area soon sprang up. By the 1870s, cotton textile manufacture was more important to the local economy than whaling.

A second mill, 200 feet (61 m) long, was built in 1855. The third mill, a duplicate of the second, was built in 1860. By 1883, the Wamsutta Co. had six mills and produced 26 million yards of cotton cloth annually.

By 1892, with a total of seven mills, Wamsutta was the largest cotton weaving plant in the world. In 1897 Wamsutta was operating 4450 looms and employing 2100 workers.

In 2004 plans were announced to remodel the Mill into apartments. A ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the initiation of the renovation of the mill was held on November 8, 2006.