1. Records of the 4th Census of Manufactures. 1820. Schedules for Vermont (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration, 1964), 7.
2. Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles, Early American Mills (New York: Charkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973), 7, 9, 11.
3. David J. Blow, Historic Guide To Burlington Neighborhoods (Burlington, Vt: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 99.
4. Drawing of Winooski Falls, (Landscape Change Program: 1840), Drawing, http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/menu.php. Courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society.
5. "Fire at Winooski," Burlington Free Press, 1, 21, 1859, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
6. John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand, and Ralph H. Orth, Vermont Encyclopedia ( Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2003), 79.
7. "Winooski Falls," Burlington Free Press, 4, 8, 1859, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
8. "Winooski Falls," Burlington Free Press, 4, 8, 1859, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
9. Zimiles, 36.
10. Zimiles, 39.
11. Zimiles, 31, 36.
12. Frederick W. Beers, Winooski Falls (University of Vermont Special Collections: 1869), map.
13. Sanborn Map Company, Burlington 1889 (University of Vermont Special Collections: 1889), map.
14. E. Meilbek, Birds Eye View of Burlington and Winooski Vt. (University of Vermont Special Collection: 1877), map.
15. Burlington and Winooski (Vermont) Directory for Year Beginning July 1925 (Springfield, Mass.: H.A. Manning Company), 1926.
16. Burlington and Winooski (Vermont) Directory 1921(Springfield, Mass.: H.A. Manning Company), 1921.
17. Louis L. McAllister, Winooski Bridge (Old) (University of Vermont Special Collections: 1877- 1963), photo.
The Catlin brothers shared some of the responsibilities with other partners when it came to running the manufacturing businesses. Brewster, the same individual who had a hand in the oil mill along the Winooski River also worked with one of the Catlin’s in the satinet factory. Carding machines were used in the factory to straighten and untangle the fibers of wool before yarn could be spun.1 There was a newspaper article from 1838 that describes a satinet factory 100 feet by 50 feet. This description matches the one in Johnson’s survey which is represented in the map at the top of the page. This article in the Burlington Free Press states that there was at that time 40 looms in the factory and a brick boarding house for the workers.2 Looking at Johnson’s survey in University of Vermont’s Special Collections one can see that there was a brick house close to the factory, right across of what is now Mill Street, which is also seen on the map above. The mill, which was built in 1814, used carding machines to produce “merino wool”. The Vermont Centinel at that time proclaimed that the quality of the wool produced at the satinet factory was “such (that) has never before been in operation in this state”.3
Notes (Satinet Factory)
1. Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles, Early American Mills (New York: Charkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973), 102.
2. “For Sale,” Burlington Free press, 11, 30, 1838, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
3. “Notice to The Public,” Vermont Centinel, 6, 3, 1814, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu
Paper Mill History
Alfred and Dan Day are the ones who operated the paper mill along the Winooski River. They had experience working in paper mills before, for a time they worked in the Milton mill as “journeyman”.1 Later they started this paper mill with one of the Catlin brothers. The mill first opened in April of 1814 and stopped operations in 1832, followed by the building burning down in 1838.2 Two years after the mill closed, Alfred Day died when he fell from a wagon and fractured his skill.3
Traditionally, manufacturing paper did take some skill, especially if it was handmade.4 It was commonly produced using fibers obtained from cotton, wood, hemp, jute, or flax seed. The process started with a vat filled with water, were the material would be literally beaten to a pulp. Many mills in the beginning would only have in their possession one vat, but some had more.5 In the case of the mill along the Winooski River, they had one vat, one engine, and two presses, which were operated by six men and four women.6 The next step was to collect the pulp in molds; this process would involve the individual to dip the mold into the vat. The mold would be rectangular and had wire mesh covering the inside. This would allow the excess water to drain out leaving only the pulp. Heavy pressure was then put onto the mold to draw out most of the water that was left. Then the mold would be removed, reveling the sheet of paper. The sheet would then be hung up to dry in a room that was well ventilated.7
Paper manufacturing in the United States took a while to develop. The first papermaking mill was in Philadelphia in 1690 by William Bradford and William Rittenhouse. Later, early mills could be found in places like Alstead, New Hampshire and Bellows Falls, Vermont.8 Although Rittenhouse’s mill was started in the 17th century, it wasn’t until the 1820s that the United States Senate started using American made paper. The first one to supply the Senate was Simeon and Asa Butler of Sufield, Connecticut.9 This information is to show how dependent America was on foreign paper. Even though a lot of paper at that time was supplied from overseas mills, there was still a small demand for American paper. In the late 18th century printers in Albany and Troy were dependent on paper mills located in Hartford, Connecticut and even Burlington, Vermont.10 The mill that was owned by Day and Catlin shipped their product not only to the local community, but New York City, as well.11
Notes (Paper Mill)
1. John Bidwell, American Paper Mills 1690 – 1832, A Directory of the Paper Trade With Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques (Dartmouth, 2013), 259.
2. David J. Blow, Historic Guide To Burlington Neighborhoods (Burlington, Vt: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 99.
3. New-York Spectator, 12, 25, 1834, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu.
4. Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles, Early American Mills (New York: Charkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973), 223.
5. Lyman Horace Weeks, A History of Paper – Manufacturing in the United States, 1690 – 1916 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1969), 69.
6. Bidwell, 259.
7. Weeks, 69.
8. Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles, Early American Mills (New York: Charkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973), 224.
9. Weeks, 119.
10. Weeks, 91.
11. Bidwell, 259.
Oil Mill History
In the same vicinity as Catlin’s grist mill, which can be seen on the map at the top of the page, was an oil mill. The exact relationship between these two buildings isn’t clear and a lot of this comes from the fact that no pictorial evidence has been found. Most of the information involving this mill has been found through newspapers and secondary sources. The oil mill came shortly after Moses Catlin and his wife acquired the land around the Winooski River. Catlin secured a license for a patented oil mill in 1818.1 He worked with a partner, and newspapers referred to the owners as Catlin and Brewster.2 Together they would give cash in exchange for flax seed.3 In 1846 the Winooski Mill Company, which would later be the company that would build the Chace Mill, started their operations in the now abandoned oil mill. It is unclear when Catlin and Brewster went out of business or moved their operations somewhere else. A description of the Winooski Mill Company in 1850, in the book Historic Guide to Burlington Neighborhoods might give a hint to the Catlin and Brewster oil mill. It states that the Winooski Mill Company’s factory was a stone three-story structure with a 34 by 84 foot wooden building that was already on the site.4 Looking at this information the wooden building that was mentioned could be the size of Catlin and Brewster’s original oil mill. The Winooski Mill Company, which will be mentioned later in more detail had to move their operations because of a fire that destroyed the oil mill in 1852.5
Notes (Oil Mill)
1.Thomas D. Visser, Winooski Falls Mill Historic District (Boundry Increase) (National Register for Historic Places: 1993), section 8, 2.
2. Burlington Gazzette, 10, 24, 1816, 4, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu.
3. “Cash”, Vermont Sentinel, 6, 13, 1817, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu.
4. David J. Blow, Historic Guide To Burlington Neighborhoods (Burlington, Vt: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 102- 103.
5. Visser, section 8, 2.
Saw Mill History
The saw mill by the Winooski River seemed to be operated by Moses Catlin, and was powered by one water wheel. Most likely there was a lower level that housed the gears to power the saw much like in the grist mill. The book, Early American Mills by Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles says that saw mills were usually gabled structures, and opened on at least two sides. This was to allow an easy sawing operation. The logs would go in one way and out the adjacent side.1 This couldn’t happen in the case of Catlin’s saw mill considering that it had buildings and the river blocking three sides. The fact that the elevation that faced the courtyard was 64 feet long could give an explanation as to how the logs were moved into the building. The length probably allowed them to have one large entry, which was on the one side of the building. Another large entry would most likely be on the other side of the courtyard facing side to allow the lumber to be easily taken away. An 1820 census of manufacturing in the Burlington area shows that the saw mill was in operation fairly early. The census also reveals that the mill included a total of five saws that cut white pine logs, with the help of five male workers.2 The saw mill met its demise during a fire in 1838 that was started in the block factory.
Notes (Saw Mill)
1. Martha Zimiles and Murray Zimiles, Early American Mills (New York: Charkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973), 64.
2. Records of the 4th Census of Manufactures. 1820. Schedules for Vermont (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration, 1964), 12.
Block Factory History
It is impressive how much Burlington, Vermont and the Catlin brothers were connected to New York City. The influence that Guy Catlin had in the great city of New York was visible in his investment of what was known as the Winooski Patent Block Manufacturing Company. This short-lived factory was only in operation for two years. The fact that it was even surveyed by John Johnson is remarkable. (John Johnson's original surveys can be found in the University of Vermont Special Collections.) The three-story factory with additional buildings situated around it and a chimney placed away from the main structure, was one of a kind in the United States. Along with the size of the building, John Johnson's survey also states that it was primarily made out of wood and had a steam boiler in the basement. The Winooski Patent Block Manufacturing Company was originally formed on November 10, 1835 and its directors included George marsh, Guy Catlin, John Catlin, Uriah Bliss, and Peter Stuyvesant.1 The newly formed company took control of a New York company that use to be known as Livingston’s Patent Block Making Machinery. The Burlington factory used patented machines built by a man named Thomas Blanchard. The block factory in Burlington manufactured tackle blocks five to nine inches, plank blocks seven to 16 inches, and deadeyes. After manufacturing they would be shipped to New York City, where there was a store on 84 South Street.2 The factory moved to Burlington to take advantage of Vermont’s plentiful supply of wood, but a lot probably had to do with the fact that Catlin already had a lot of connections in the Burlington and Winooski area.3
Ship blocks have been around for a long time; they are an important tool in sailing. Before the 19th century these devises that could come in many shapes and sizes were made by hand, with only a small amount of work done by machines. This all changed thanks to England, and its royal navy. A factory in Portsmouth England is credited as being the first to create a production line designed to make ship blocks for the Royal Navy. They at one time had the ability to create over 200 different block designs. The blocks would be made from a solid piece of wood with pulleys inside that rotate and openings to allow ropes to pass through them.4 At that time, the Portsmouth factory was the only one that incorporated an entire production line from start to finish. Other manufacturing facilities, even in the United States incorporated some machines to make the process simpler. Alexandria Virginia had some machines for boring the holes and incorporated circular saws to help their manufacturing in 1796.
The concept of creating an assembly line to produce ship blocks wasn’t new even though it was innovative for America. What made the block factory in Burlington special and unique was because of the use of Thomas Blanchard’s block making machines. Since the Winooski Patent Block Company had the rights to Blanchard’s designs they were the only one in the country at that time who were using these machines. Blanchard had to have known about the factory in Portsmouth but his patented machines were not copies of what the British were using.5 August 1st to the 30-first was when Blanchard filed for the patent for nine ship block manufacturing equipment.6 It seems as though these machines could be used individually to assist someone that couldn’t afford all the patented designs, but that was probably not the intention. Since the machines don’t seem to overlap in the manufacturing process and because they were filed for patenting around the same time, Carolyn Cooper points out in the book, Shaping Invention, Thomas Blanchard’s Machinery and Patent Management in Nineteenth Century America that Blanchard must have intended for his inventions to be used as one assembly line. His machines were used to make all the parts of a ship block, the shell, pins, and other iron elements. 7
When the factory was built, it had to be very intriguing to the local community of Burlington and Winooski. It wasn’t long until the newspapers started talking about it. After it was constructed in 1836, a Burlington Free Press writer wrote that the factory was “filled with a series of the most ingenious machinery for the manufactor of ships blocks, deadeyes, besides newly invented machines for sawing out and finishing barrel staves”. The factory ran thanks to an 80 horsepower waterwheel; Portsmouth could only get up to 30. This marvel of engineering, which sat in a $7,000 dollar structure, was probably going to take over the ship block industry in America. This would have been the United States equivalent of the Portsmouth’s factory.8 Shortly after the factories construction, advertisements started appearing in the newspapers, proclaiming that ash timber was wanted at the factory. The wood couldn’t include any knots, shakes, or heartwood. They were looking for boards 7 inches by 1.5 to 1 5/8 inches, all the way to 14 inches by 2 3/8 to 2 5/ 8 inches. Also they sought white ash logs 22 inches in diameter and 14 feet long.9
This complex only lasted two years. A fire was started in the block factory in December of 1838. It not only destroyed the block factory but also the buildings around it like the saw mill and the satinet factory.10 This fire marked a turning point in the areas industrial history. It marked the end of the Catlin family’s influence at this manufacturing center. The factory was never rebuilt again, and the company doesn’t seem to come back from this disaster.
Notes (Block Factory)
1. Carolyn C. Cooper, Shaping Invention, Thomas Blanchard’s Machinery and Patent Management In Nineteenth - Century America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 153, 154.
2. “Winooski Patent Block Manufacturing CO.” Vermont Centinel, 6, 10, 1836, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
3. Cooper, 154.
4. Cooper, 131, 134, 138.
5. Cooper, 140.
6. List of Patents For Invention and Design, Issued by The United States, From 1790 to 1847, With Patent Laws and Notes of Decisions, of The Courts of The United States For The Same Period (Washington: Edmund Burke, 1927), 167.
7. Cooper, 142.
8. Cooper, 154.
9. “Ash Timber,” Burlington Free Press, 9, 16, 1836, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
10. “Great Fire At Burlington,” Commercial advertiser, 12, 26, 1838, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu.
Plaster Mill History
The plaster mill that one of the Catlin brother's built began operations in the early 19th century. The exact date is elusive. Although some have suggested that the property was added to the site in 18371, the census of manufacturing done in 1820 records a plaster mill owned by Catlin was located in Burlington.2 As little information has been uncovered on the Catlin brother’s plaster mill, it is possible that there was an older mill somewere else before the one at the Winooski River was constructed. Either way there, a plaster mill was in operation in connection with the grist mill by around 1840. Moses Catlin was probably the one to start this operation, considering he had a large hand in the oil mill and grist mill that sat right next to each other. The best depiction of the site is the 1840s drawing that was mentioned earlier (see figure 1). This drawing depicts a three-story structure to the right of to what appears to be the grist mill. The gabled end faced the river and there was a chimney in the roof. This feature could be a clue to matching the building with the plaster mill, considering plaster needed to be heated to a high temperature.
The plaster mill could make 500 tons of plaster a year.3 Catlin had a capital investment of $5,500 dollars in the property, and hired five men at $400 dollars a year.4 The mill produced what is known as plaster of paris, which is a pure gypsum product that sets very fast.5 Pure plaster of paris would be a mixture of around 93.8 percent of lime sulphate and 6.2 percent of water, which would look like CaSO4·½H2O. A pure example is hard to come by considering when it was mined it usually has other elements that are mixed into the gypsum like clay, limestone, and iron oxide. When the gypsum is heated, the temperature is very important, it must not exceed 340 degrees Fahrenheit. To create plaster of paris, one needs to grind the gypsum rock and “calcine” it in a kettle or oven.6 The life of Catlin’s plaster mill most likely was not that long. It doesn’t show up on any maps of the area, only newspaper articles and secondary sources reference it. It is unclear who owned it last or when it actually closed down. The most logical explanation was that it ether burned down along with the grist mill in 1859 or the oil mill in 1852.
Notes (Plaster Mill)
1. Thomas D. Visser, Winooski Falls Mill Historic District (Boundry Increase) (National Register for Historic Places: 1993), section 8, 2.
2. Records of the 4th Census of Manufactures. 1820. Schedules for Vermont (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration, 1964), 11.
3. Visser, section 8, 2.
4. Records, 11.
5. Edwin C Eckel, Cements, Limes, and Plasters, Their Materials, Manufacture, and Properties (New York: John Wiley & sons, Inc, 1922), 38.
6. Eckel, 18, 38, 40, 48, 56
Cotton Mill History
Two men named Vilas and Noyes started the Winooski Mill Company, and in 1846 the two owners started their first cotton mill in Catlin’s old oil mill.1 During their time in Catlin’s mill, they employed seven men, and ten women. The president of the company was Joseph D. Allen and with his help they produced 5000 pounds of cotton a year. William R. Vilas did help found the company but he wasn’t president until 1852. Morillo Noyes had a leadership role as treasure ever since the company was started.2 They operated out of the oil mill until 1852 when it burned down.3
When they moved to the location of what is now the Chace Mill, they built a mill that is almost entirely destroyed. The only section of it that is left is the ruin attached to the Chace Mill that sits in the river. The ruin appears to be reconstructed on the left side using concrete. This was probably done when the original mill was enlarged. The stone wall to the right was most likely part of the original mill back in the 1850s. The ruin was part of the powerhouse that was part of a rectangular block that ran north to south. To the right of the mill during the mid to late 1860s was a chair factory and another saw mill that could have been operated by the Winooski Lumber Company which had some operations on the Winooski side of the river as well. No hard evidence could be found that linked the Winooski Lumber Company to these manufacturing facilities. This layout can be seen on an 1869 map created by Frederick W. Beers, which is in the University of Vermont’s Special Collections. During this time the mill included 50 Benjamin and Reynolds patent looms and was now employing 22 men and 40 women. The company strangely changed its name twice during the 1860s to the Winooski Cotton Factory and then the Burlington Cotton Mill in 1868.4
Eleven years after the building was expanded, the cotton mill caught on fire. At 11:45 a fire was started in the upper story of the mill. The Vermont Watchman, a newspaper recorded the event with amazing description. The reporter wrote, “A strong south wind was blowing and flakes of burning cotton were wafted over the town and descended in a shower of fire on the roofs in the north part of the village”. Houses and local shops fell victim to this tragedy. Devlen’s blacksmith shop was one of these properties that burned to the ground along with the cotton mill.9 Like the industries before them, the stockholders that invested in the mill were not willing to leave the sit at the Winooski River. They voted to rebuild again and it would be even bigger than before and made out of brick. The new building would house 30,000 spindles. 10
Now called the Chace Mill, this replacement factory building constructed in 1891 has a rectangular footprint that runs along the river’s edge. About a quarter of the way down the north elevation on the west side of the structure is a section of the building that extends out towards the water in three bays. This extension runs the rest of the north elevation. Rather tall windows, which are partially arched at the top, cover all three floors. They create a repetitious pattern of windows cut out of the brick walls. Each window is separated into three parts; the top section includes eight panes of glass. The two lower sections appear to be twelve over eight panes. Most of the windows now have their top sash covered up by wood panels. The foundation of the building is stone and one has to question how much of the foundation was part of the older mills.
During these mills' history, there were also some examples of tenement housing built for the workers. One example is on 13 – 19 Mill Street. It was constructed around 1854 and was moved to its present location in 1874. It was ten bays wide and two stories tall. (See Figures 3, 9, and 14 above.) Another tenement building, which was two stories, was constructed in 1853. It was sold to the cotton mill in 1873 and housed workers until shortly after the Chace Mill closed in 1926.
Notes (Cotton Mill)
1. David J. Blow, Historic Guide To Burlington Neighborhoods (Burlington, Vt: Chittenden County Historical Society, 1991), 104.
2. Blow, 102 – 103.
3. Thomas D. Visser, Winooski Falls Mill Historic District (Boundry Increase) (National Register for Historic Places: 1993), section 8, 2.
4. Blow, 102 – 103.
5. “U.S. District and Circuit Court. – February Term,” Burlington Weekly Free Press, March 8, 1878; http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
6. “Vermont News,” St. Albans Messenger, June 15, 1877, 5, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.uvm.edu.
7. “Vermont Items,” Vermont Phoenix, March, 19, 1880, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
8. Sanborn Map Company, Burlington 1889 (University of Vermont Special Collections: 1889), map.
9. “Great Fire at Winooski,” Vermont Watchman, 2, 25, 1891, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
10. “Cotton Mill To Be Rebuilt,” Burlington Weekly Press, March 27, 1891; http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
11. “All Around Vermont” Vermont Phoenix, March 2, 1906; http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/.
12. Blow, 104.