The initial project of Great Marsh Preservation Advocates will be the restoration of the James S. Glover Knitting Factory building, CA 1850-1856. The history is below you can also see details on the project at Glover’s Factory Project Details
James S. Glover Knitting Factory building
The old textile mill that stood on the Carter Fahey property at 80 East St., Ipswich, was once attached to the James Glover house at 78 East Street. This house with its attached factory was constructed between 1850-56.
James S. Glover who was certainly in residence on East Street by 1856, began his manufacturing career in Ipswich when he was recruited by George Washington Heard to work in the “the knitting business” of Heard’s manufactury at the Lower Falls in 1845. The Heard family had created the Ipswich Manufacturing Co. in 1828 to produce cotton “drilling” at the Upper Falls. The knitting operation at the Lower Falls was an expansion of this business and thus can be seen as a precursor to the massive textile factory complex of the later 19th century in Ipswich.
Glover brought with him a long-warp hand-frame knitting machine. The Heards’ Lower Mills operation faltered with the Heard bankruptcy in the 1840’s and by 1850 James Glover, then resident near the South Green had a significant textile manufacturing business of his own. He employed four men at $100/month and six women at $48/month to run three hand frames. On this machinery he was able to produce 400 dozen shirts and drawers, 400 dozen stockings, 400 dozen frocks, 1000 dozen nubias (scarves) and 12,000 head nets.
By 1856 maps show Glover located at present-day 78 East Street. His business grew rapidly and by 1870 Glover was capitalized at $100,000 and ran his operations with both handlooms and a four horsepower steam engine. By then he employed five men and twenty women manufacturing nubias and head nets, stockings, drawers and shirts.
The Glover factory was an active manufactury through at least 1890 but by 1904 historian Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that large-scale mass-produced textiles had made small operations obsolete and, “these small enterprises have all been given up and not a single hand frame remains in Ipswich.”
James’ son James Jr. had a daughter Louisa who married George C. Hodgkins. The present owner of the mill is Carter Fahey whose wife was Wynne Hodgkins Fahey.
This gives the mill a history of ownership in the Glover line of descent from at least 1856- 2006 – 150 years.
The Glover factory is part of the East End National Register District and is significant at the national level. Ipswich’s nineteenth century textile industry was the single most essential element of its economy, yet only a few buildings and artifacts remain to document this aspect of local industrial history. Glover’s factory is the only known remaining exemplar of a wooden framed textile mill building in the New England that employed hand frames. As such it is irreplaceable.
Professor Emeritus Richard Candee of Boston University, a noted scholar of American textile history, affirmed by e-mail both the significance and rarity of the Glover’s factory. Ipswich Historical Society member and eminent consultant in historic preservation Paul McGinley also supported the acquisition and restoration of the mill. He said that the Society for Industrial Archeology would rank this building as a very high priority preservation project.
Rescue of the Historic Factory
In June of 2006 the Faheys applied for a demolition permit for the factory since they wished to construct a new multipurpose structure on the site. The Ipswich Historical Commission invoked the Demolition Delay Bylaw hoping to find someone to preserve the old structure on another site. After an intense, rapid fundraising campaign, the Ipswich Historical Society raised about $35,000 in the winter of 2007 and moved the disassembled factory to the grounds of the Heard House in early June of 2007.
The factory was placed on a platform and covered with a vented tarp. It has been periodically inspected and sprayed for insects. The factory remains in good condition in storage.
In 2009-2010 the Ipswich Historical Society, (renamed Ipswich Museum) undertook a year-long study of the feasibility of retaining and reconstructing the Glover’s Factory.
The study group included Professor Emeritus Richard Candee (Boston University) and noted historic preservationist Paul McGinley, as well as Museum trustee and preservation architect Mathew Cummings and architectural historian and trustee Susan S. Nelson.
The group agreed on the historic importance of the building and also agreed that it would be appropriate to move the building to another site if necessary. The Ipswich Museum trustees determined that Glover’s factory was too small even in restored condition to solve the Museum’s pressing exhibit and storage needs. In addition, the Museum’s other historic buildings were in need of significant repair.
A search was undertaken by Mathew Cummings to find someone who could restore the factory and who would agree to place a preservation agreement on the factory’s historic elements. The Marini family stepped forward and offered to take the building and rebuild it on the grounds of Marini farms on Linebrook Rd. in Ipswich with the help of locally distinguished preservation experts Susan Nelson, Mathew Cummings and James Whidden. The Marinis look forward to showcasing the long and important history of the factory to local school children and the public at large.