by GSA Margaret Minnon, Comfort Inn Concord Class of 2011
Tuesday – Saturday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
200 Bedford St., Manchester, NH
Historic Amoskeag Millyard
On a late August sultry day, I visited the Millyard Museum. Using my GSA 2019 Explore NH Passport, myself and guest, gained admission. Upon entering we were met by a curator who answered all our questions re history and present day Manchester.
The permanent exhibit entitled “Woven in Time…”. Begins 11,000 years ago when the Penacook Indians founded the 50-foot Amoskeag Falls as prime fishing ground … to the now modern Queen City of Manchester. A Queen City is a city that is the largest in a state, but not the state’s capital.
1807 Samuel Blodget created canals and locks which bypassed the Falls, thus opening a water trade route from Northern NH to Boston. 1842 came the railroad for even better transportation of people and goods.
In 1810 a Boston group purchased the smaller mills and began building larger mills calling themselves the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company. Using the Falls for water power, then steam power and eventually a hydroelectric plant for today’s electricity. At one time the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was the largest cotton mill in the world. WW I was the peak production years supplying material to the government. Employing 17,000 workers with floor space which included all the buildings equaling 137 acres. (Keep in mind this figure included multiple rows of buildings and multiple floors.)
Early immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Albania and Syria came because of the good wages; both men and women working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Plus children as young as 9 worked to help support their families. Mill housing consisted of boarding houses and tenements were provided for the workers. Because of aggressive recruitment in rural Quebec made the French Canadian the majority of workers.
Eventually the textile industry in NH lessened and goods were made cheaper in the south. Mills were dismantled and some saved.
The workmanship in these
preserved structures is credited to early Manchester and now being reused for today’s businesses.