The First 'Factory' - Boston Manufacturing Company - Waltham, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 22.363 W 071° 14.054
19T E 316045 N 4693577
Quick Description: The complex of buildings, which now houses residences and the Charles River Museum of Industry, is where cotton thread was first woven into cloth via machinery, and is an important landmark of the American Industrial Revolution.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 1/17/2009 12:07:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM5K6B
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member kbarhow
Views: 13

Long Description:
From the outside of this factory complex, little indicates that this was where the first automated factory (all the steps in making a product are done using powered machinery) in America was founded. There is a sign that shows the growth of the factory over time, and there is the stone near the top that reads "1813." But there isn't the same kind of publicity that other places like Lowell has to celebrate this and other factories in Waltham that really shaped manufacturing in this country. There are two excellent museums that do try to tell the story. One of which is the Charles River Museum of Industry, located on the grounds.

Samuel Slater was able to automate many of the manufacturing methods in making cloth by developing machines the spun thread. What was missing was the final step in weaving thread into cloth. This required a loom, powered by water, that could accomplish the complicated task. Up to about 1810 only industrialists in England was able to accomplish this, and they were very protective of the technology and didn't allow exporting of the machinery, especially to the former British Colonies of America.

Francis Cabot Lowell was a Boston merchant who made a visit in 1810 to mills in England and studied the manufacturing methods there. When he came back, he, with the assistance of a hired 'mechanic' (worker in the crafts, such as a silversmith, blacksmith, etc.), Paul Moody, successfully developed the first power loom. The Boston Manufacturing Company was founded with Lowell and many of his fellow merchants who formed The Boston Associates, and the company went on to be hugely successful in producing inexpensive cloth. The company continued to grow until it tapped out the potential energy of the Charles River, and the Boston Associates went to other locations, such as present day Lowell, and became even more successful. Textile manufacturing in the area declined in the 20th century; the Boston Manufacturing Company closed in 1930. The Wikipedia entry is more complete, and the National Park Service book, "Lowell: An American City," is particularly good in relating the story.

What's There, Now

Much of the complex is still in existence. The rambling brick buildings now house senior residences and artist lofts.

The Moody Street dam across the Charles River is still there.

Though much of the complex is private residences, there is a greenway between the buildings and the Charles River that includes a public sidewalk. This sidewalk also leads to the entrance of the Charles River Museum of Industry (CRMI).

CRMI is a modest museum that has exhibits about the factories operated in Waltham. This included Waltham Watch Company, Charles Metz Company (auto manufacturer), Howard Clock Works, and Waltham Manufactuing Company, which made high end racing bicycles. The web site for this museum is here ( (visit link) ).

Another good place to visit while you are there is the Waltham Museum, located on Lexington Street in downtown Waltham.
Product manufactured here: Woven cotton cloth from cotton fibers.

154 Moody Street
Waltham, MA United States

Web Page: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
A unique picture of the location would be appreciated. Try to include yourself or your group in the frame if you are not shy. Give your impressions of the location in your log. You can also log a visit by including a photograph of one of the products made by the factory "in situ". You'll have to look it up. Log type should be "write note" in this case. Include a comment as to where you found the product and some other details you noted. Be sure to make it clear that product was made by the factory in question. Your posted image should clearly indicate this. When you post a visit of this type, please send a note to kbarhow to indicate you have completed one of these.
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