Filed Under Mills

Manomet Mills

Built in 1903, Manomet Mills was “equipped with every improvement for the manufacture of combed yarns from the better grades of American, Egyptian, and Sea Island Cotton.”

The complex eventually grew to include three buildings. Manomet 1 and 2 were connected by overhead bridges, now demolished. An extensive weave shed on the other side of Riverside Avenue has also been demolished. Manomet’s owner and President, William Whitman, developed or oversaw operations of a variety of textile mills throughout the East Coast including the nearby Whitman Mills.

In promotional materials for his companies, Whitman claimed an enlightened attitude toward the well-being of workers: “The health and comfort of the operatives are very carefully considered, both because these precautions are the rightful due of the working people, and because an enlightened self-interest to-day demands health and comfort as essential to the highest industrial efficiency.”

Whitman sold Manomet Mills to Delaware Rayon Company in 1928, the same year a disastrous textile workers strike took place in New Bedford. When Delaware Rayon went bankrupt in 1954, the Acushnet Process Company continued to use Manomet 1 for rayon production and used Manomet 2 for golf ball manufacture. Cliftex Corporation, a New Bedford Manufacturer of men’s suits, moved its operations to the complex in 1970.

It 2000, when Cliftex announced its plans to "permanently and immediately terminate all operations and terminate all employees,” the future of this site looked bleak. It grew worse seven years later when the New Bedford City Council approved demolition of the complex despite objections from the mayor and historic preservationists.

Through the efforts of Mayor Scott Lang and his successor Jon Mitchell, Manomet Mills were spared from demolition. Today, the buildings contain seventy-six units of mixed income senior housing. The ribbon cutting ceremony included Barbara Biliko, who once worked in the mill that she now calls home.

Images

Manomet Mills, 1912 Lewis Hine photographed "young workers adolescence [sic] and younger," departing Manomet Mills for lunch before returning to work in the afternoon. Source: Hine, Lewis Wickes. Young Workers Adolescence and Younger in Manomet, Nonquitt and Nashawena Mills. Going to Dinner and Back to w[o]Rk. Noon. January 9, 1912. Richard K. Conant, Witness. Location: New Bedford, Massachusetts. 1912, //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ncl2004003371/PP/. Date: 1912
Atlas of the City of New Bedford, 1911 (detail) Manomet Mills was a sprawling complex, with buildings covering several blocks. Source: Map, Available Online, 1911, Atlas of the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts : based on plans in the office of the city engineer. (g3764nm.gLA-00098/) | Library of Congress (loc.gov) Date: 1911
Postcard view of Manomet Mills This postcard shows Manomet Mills from the Acushnet River. Date: ca. 1930
Manomet Mills, 1912 Lewis Hine photographed these two girls “flirting” through the distinctive rounded windows at Manomet Mills. Source: Hine, Lewis Wickes. Girls Flirting through Window of Manomet Mill. Location: New Bedford, Massachusetts. 1912, //www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/nclc.02522. Date: 1912
Female workers at Manomet Mills, 1918 A group of female workers poses with their overseer, Donat Bourassa, in 1918. Bourassa’s granddaughter remembered, “My grandfather worked in the mills when he was a boy, getting paid 4 cents per hour. Through hard work and education, he worked his way up to overseer. I liked the way this photo depicts how the women carried the slack when the men went to World War I.” Source:
“Pepere Donat Bourassa as an Overseer in the Manomet Mill.” Accessed April 26, 2022. https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth-oai:v118sq658.
Date: 1918

Location

194 Riverside Ave, New Bedford, MA 02746

Metadata

Ryan Cruise, “Manomet Mills,” Rhode Tour, accessed September 29, 2022, https://rhodetour.org/items/show/84.