Pittsfield Historical Society’s
History of Pittsfield

Pittsfield Woolen Mills Photo Page

(Click on pictures below to enlarge.)

Pittsfield has had three major woolen mills since the first one was built in 1869. They have all undergone management and name changes over time. The mills were known at various times as the

  • Pioneer Woolen Mill, aka: American Woolen Company – Edwards Company – General Electric
  • Riverside Woolen Mill, aka: Maple Grove Woolen Mill – Smith Woolen Mill – Walker Mill – Withee Mill – Shoddy Mill
  • Waverly Woolen Mill, aka: Medwed Shoe – Northeast Shoe – SAS (San Antonio Shoe).

and to make matters a little more complicated, all three were purchased by the American Woolen Company around 1914, and since it was the last to close (in 1954) the Pioneer Woolen Mill is sometimes known as the American Woolen Mill. For a thorough history of Pittsfield’s woolen mills, see Peter Gulick’s Masters Thesis The Woolen Industry of Pittsfield. Also see each mill’s entry on the Past Businesses page.

Pioneer Woolen Mill
Newspaper article of Pioneer Mill Opening in 1869 from the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier.

Circa late 1800’s post card of Pioneer Woolen Mill, with horse cart arriving.
View of the Pioneer Woolen Mill from a post card postmarked 1911.
Early post card front view of the Pioneer Woolen Mill.
Similar, but not identical (notice hydrant) view of the Pioneer Woolen Mill from the same time period.
Another early view of the Pioneer Woolen Mill from a post card postmarked 1917.
American Woolen Mill from post card, probably from the 1930’s. Notice the top of the tower has been flattened and the square chimney is gone.
View from the Hunnewell bridge, downstream on the Sebasticook.
Aerial view taken in 1935.
Aerial View taken circa 1950.
Two views of the 1936 flood around the Pioneer Mill, with the Riverside Mill in the background.
By 1972 the Pioneer Mill had been partly torn down and the Edwards Company had been doing business there since 1956. In this view the Riverside Mill, by then called the “Shoddy Mill”, is in the background.
A view of the remaining Pioneer Mill building as seen from the bridge on Hunnewell Ave., looking upstream.
Riverside Woolen Mill
An early post card (mailed circa 1905) view of the Riverside Woolen Mill, with part of the Pioneer mill in the foreground.
Riverside Mill from a 1926 color post card.
A view of rear of the Riverside Mill (on right) from 1907 when Mr. Smith operated the mill as Smith Woolen Company. He began selling woolen clothing items directly to the public from a store in the mill called the Riverside Woolen Co.
A 1907 view of Riverside Woolen Mill as the Smith Woolen Co. viewed from Dobson Street.
The same photograph used as a color postcard.
A view from downstream of the Riverside Mill from an old post card.
Waverly Woolen Mill
The Waverly Woolen Mill, with Capt. Parson’s steamer docked nearby in 1903, as seen from the bottom of the Pinnacle.
Waverly Mill as seen from Waverly Ave. in 1907.
A view of the Waverly Woolen Mill and surroundings circa 1907, taken from the water tower at the Pinnacle.
The same photograph used as a color postcard.
A 1972 view from North Main Street across the parking lot of Northeast Shoe (now S.A.S.) in the former Waverly Mill building.
The Waverly Woolen Mill, now San Antonio Shoe (SAS), as seen from the parking lot in 2005.

Original Version: 10-Jan-2007.

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