Barbour Flax Mills of Paterson, New Jersey

An Historic Structures Report prepared for the City of Paterson, New Jersey on 2-6 Morris Street, also known as the Granite Machine Shop at the former Barbour Flax Spinning Company’s Granite Mill.

Introduction

Barbour Flax Spinning Company, Machine Shop, Spruce & Barbour Streets, Paterson, Passaic County, NJ. Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), HAER NJ,16-PAT,7-C-

Located east of the intersection of Morris and Barbour Streets in Paterson, New Jersey, 2-6 Morris Street is a long, narrow one-story masonry building proposed for demolition as part of the adaptive reuse of the larger industrial site formerly owned and operated by Barbour Flax Spinning Company. Referred to as the Machine & Carpentry Shop for its original use and often called the Granite Machine Shop, the building was constructed between 1909 and 1911 as part of Barbour’s facilities at the Granite Mill, a textile manufacturing campus consisting of several buildings built in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. As an international company with manufacturing plants in Ireland and the United States, Barbour was one of the most significant textile manufacturers in Paterson starting in the 1860s through the 1940s and was known for their high-quality linen thread, twine, and flax products.

Barbour Flax Spinning Company, Spruce & Barbour Streets, Paterson, Passaic County, NJ. Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), HAER NJ,16-PAT,7-

The Granite Machine Shop lies within the boundaries of the Great Falls Historic District, which is listed on the National, State, and Municipal Registers of Historic Places since the early 1970s, and is also part of the designated Great Falls National Historic Park, established in 2009. Modifications to the exterior and redevelopment of the building are thus subject to review by the local Historic Preservation Commission of Paterson. 

NORTH ELEVATION – Barbour Flax Spinning Company, Granite Mill, Spruce & Barbour Streets, Paterson, Passaic County, NJ.Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), HAER NJ-11-A.

Although the Granite Mill site has already been partially redeveloped as a charter school in recent years, there are additional proposed alterations to the site. Currently the complex consists of three distinct buildings that together form an open court around a central parking lot: the Granite Mill, constructed in 1882 along the southern border of the site and recently adaptively reused as a charter school; the former Storage Building, a five-story brick masonry structure constructed in 1909 at the east end of the site that is planned as an expansion of the charter school; a small masonry building with multiple shed additions in the southern portion of the courtyard; and the Machine & Carpentry Shop, a long and narrow one-story masonry building along the north edge of the site proposed for demolition. Site challenges include a limited and narrow parking area accessible only via Morris Street, steep bluffs to the west of the site that further restrict access, and poor condition of cobblestone streets. 

As a long and low building on the site, the Machine & Carpentry Shop occupies important square footage that could allow the other buildings at the complex to achieve a better use; additionally, the Machine & Carpentry Shop has also been altered from its original design. Furthermore, it is the least architecturally significant building on the site, constructed using simple and typical construction materials and methods of the time, and with little in the way of architectural detailing. Culturally and historically, the building was also an auxiliary structure to the mill building itself, and production of Barbour goods did not take place in the Machine & Carpentry Shop; rather, it helped create and maintain the machines housed in the mills that created these goods.

Currently, the former Machine & Carpentry Shop has continued to serve as light industrial manufacturing and production facility for Triarco, a local chemical manufacturer and TRB Electro, an electroplating company, but was vacated by the Barbour Flax and Spinning Company in the 1930s. The building will be vacated by its current tenant as part of the site’s redevelopment. 

Demolition of 2-6 Morris Street would allow for better access and more parking on the site, in particular providing the required turning radius for school buses. This historic report seeks to mitigate the loss of the Machine & Carpentry Shop by outlining the building’s history; detailing its relative significance on the site; and textually, graphically, photographically documenting its current conditions.

Historical Significance & Site Integrity Narrative

As one of four auxiliary buildings or additions to the 1882 Granite Mill constructed by the Barbour Flax and Spinning Company, the Granite Machine Shop is part of the complex that exemplifies a time of expansion during Paterson’s industrial history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The single-story brick masonry building was originally constructed using typical materials and methods of the time, with twenty arched openings containing wood double-hung windows and a flat roof over the western half of the building which was originally used as a carpentry shop. A three-bay saw toothed roof running east-west over the eastern half of the building was originally used as a machine shop. Together, these two functions allowed for the production and maintenance of Barbour’s linen mills, serving in particular the Spruce Street Mill located north of the site on the parcels directly north of the Dolphin Jute Mill. 

The Granite Mill and the Granite Machine Shop’s locations are locally significant because they speak to later stages of Paterson’s industrial history, after the transition from water power to steam power, which allowed mill buildings to be constructed away from the energy-producing Upper and Lower raceways. Additionally, the Granite Machine Shop and overall continued development of the Granite Mill site is emblematic of a period of continued growth for the Barbour Flax Spinning Company in Paterson. During the period from 1905 to 1915, Barbour expanded their manufacturing facilities at all three of their mills in the nationally-recognized industrial city: the Spruce Street Mill, the Grand Street Mill, and the Granite Mill. Indeed, at this time Barbour was expanding throughout the country, purchasing smaller textile mills and companies while still retaining their reputation for quality.

However, 2-6 Morris Street’s function was not uncommon for the area: machine and carpentry shops could be found at nearly every industrial facility in Paterson, as they were a typical, if not necessary, auxiliary building. Other nearby machine and carpentry shops included a one-story, brick masonry building that housed a combined machine and carpentry shop serving the Dolphin Jute Mill; this building was located directly northeast of the Granite Machine Shop. 

2-6 Morris Street was also not unique in its construction methods, architectural features, or craftsmanship. Long, low, and linear, machine shops were constructed for efficiency and often sacrificed symmetry in favor of functionality. The Granite Machine Shop was built with simple materials that could be easily obtained, such as brick, heavy timber framing, and arched wood windows and were likely constructed by local builders and workers, as other buildings on the site were. No architectural plans, building permits, notices of construction in local newspapers, connection to an architect or builder, or evidence of careful planning and design of 2-6 Morris Street were found or referenced, and it is likely that the building was constructed on an as-needed basis with later additions as required, as were most industrial buildings at the time.

AERIAL VIEW LOOKING WEST – Barbour Flax Spinning Company, Granite Mill, Spruce & Barbour Streets, Paterson, Passaic County, NJ. Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), HAER NJ-11-A

Although the Granite Machine Shop is located along the northern border of the locally significant Granite Mill complex, the building historically did not serve the Granite Mill, but rather acted as a distinct machine shop that served another of Barbour’s nearby mills. The tenants of the Granite Mill, a large and distinctive granite and brick building, had their own machine and carpentry shops in the first floor of the mill building, and did not use the Granite Machine Shop as part of the complex in the way that storage buildings on the site were used. Instead, evidence in particular from Sanborn maps from 1899, 1915, and 1930 suggests that the Granite Machine Shop instead served Barbour’s nearby Spruce Street Mill, which did not have a machine or carpentry shop located at the complex. The Granite Machine Shop and the Spruce Street Mill were on the same fire alarm system and were separated by the parcel of land used by the Dolphin Jute Mill, but it appears that they were still closely connected and likely served one another. As such, while the Granite Machine Shop is located on the Granite Mill site, its function was not directly related to the production and work taking place there. 

Finally, the building retains only a fair to low level of architectural integrity. It has been maintained as a functioning industrial building, and has received minimal care and attention possible to keep the building standing — similar to many industrial buildings in the area. Because 2-6 Morris Street has been continually used in recent decades, it has not been subjected to the same level of deterioration and neglect as other nearby abandoned buildings, but current conditions show ongoing issues of water infiltration, efflorescence, spalling, deteriorated roofing systems, and rotting and deterioration of structural elements. These conditions are seen at both the interior and exterior of the building. 

Several character-defining features such as windows and the long, low form of the building have also been altered. The arched windows have been completely covered or enclosed with cementitious material, and are typically punctured with through-wall or through-window mechanical ventilation devices, lighting, or other equipment that at best damages only the ribbed glazing but at worst affects an entire wood sash. The circular windows at the gabled ends of the saw tooth roof are also covered and potentially no longer extant, and all of the windows at the north side of the saw tooth bays have been covered and are in poor condition. Furthermore, the construction of the east and west additions after the 1930s, when Barbour left the site, have concealed two of the three originally exposed facades and altered the proportions of the original building and its original entry points and circulation patterns. Interiors retain no original machinery, partitions, or other features except for a single sliding door.

Ultimately, these factors — a location and siting that speak to a specific moment in Paterson’s burgeoning industrial history and Barbour’s success; materials and construction methods typical of industrial buildings of the era; a function that served a distinct Barbour mill not housed on the Granite Mill site; and fair to low levels of architectural integrity — suggest that the demolition of 2-6 Morris Street would somewhat impact the interpretation and understanding of the Granite Mill site and only minimally impact that of the Great Falls Historic District at large. Within the Great Falls Historic District, there are other examples of early twentieth century single-story brick buildings, several of which have been used as machine and carpentry shops. Other examples of saw toothed roofs are also extant throughout the Historic District, as is the Spruce Street Mill that the Granite Machine Shop was connected with.

Historical Narrative 

Historical Context: Paterson’s Industrial History

As one of the oldest manufacturing centers of the United States, the industrial history of Paterson, New Jersey goes back to 1791, when the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) founded the “National Manufactory” at the site of the Great Falls of the Passaic River. The S.U.M. was a private state-sponsored corporation that originated from a prospectus developed by Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the treasury, and the U.S. Treasury’s assistant secretary, Tench Coxe. Hamilton was particularly interested in stimulating American manufacturing as a way of weaning off European products, diversifying and strengthening the American economy, and attracting immigrant workers to the growing nation.

The S.U.M. established a new manufacturing town in New Jersey named after then-governor William Paterson; the selected site was chosen because of its suitability for an industrial city: it was located near New York City and Philadelphia, had plentiful access to timber from nearby forests, mineral ore from surrounding mountains, and water from the Passaic River, in particular the Great Falls as a power source. The area had been inhabited by the Lenni Lenape, colonized by the Dutch in the 1600s, and remained a sparsely populated agricultural area until the establishment of Paterson. 

Unfortunately, the enterprise did not fare well, and the S.U.M. ceased operations in 1796, despite the completion of two small cotton mills and a canal completed in 1794 by S.U.M. superintendent Peter Colt, a Connecticut shipping merchant. Slowly over the next few decades, the mills continued to be used and additional mills and canals (raceways) were built; these extensions increased the area’s capacity for water-powered mills, including the addition in 1827 of a new upper tier of mill lots on the west side of Spruce Street.

By the late 1830s, the land along the Passaic at Great Falls was home to several different types of manufacturing: locomotives; paper; and textiles including cotton, wool, silk, rope, and hemp were all manufactured within what are today the boundaries of the Great Falls Historic District. The locomotive industry in Paterson began in 1832, when Thomas Rogers formed the manufacturing firm of Rogers, Ketchum and Grosvenor (later Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works) that produced more than six thousand steam locomotives for railroads around the world and had one of the largest plants in Paterson, spanning several blocks along Spruce Street by the turn of the twentieth century.

Drawing of the Rogers Locomotive Works plant in Paterson, New Jersey. Photocopy of Associated Mutual Fire Insurance Map. Original Survey, Serial No. 7485. Index No. NJ30214.

Textile manufacturing was Paterson’s other main source of industry; during its prime, more than 60% of the local population was employed in the textile mills. Indeed, the city’s involvement with silk manufacturing during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries earned it the moniker “Silk City,” with over 100 factories and mills involved in all aspects of silk production including weaving, dying, throwing, and twisting. 

Barbour Family and the Barbour Flax Spinning Works

Early Barbour Family History
hotocopy of a Lithograph–ca. 1880-1889 BARBOUR’S FLAX THREAD WORKS: PATERSON, NEW JERSEY. Barbour Flax Spinning Company, Granite Mill, Spruce & Barbour Streets, Paterson, Passaic County, NJ. Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress), HAER NJ,16-PAT,7-A-

One of the largest mills in Paterson, however, was neither for locomotives nor silk, but rather flax: the Barbour Flax Spinning Company. The Barbour family was originally from Paisley, Scotland, a textile manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. After establishing their textile mill in Paisley in 1739, John Barbour moved to Ireland in 1768 and established Barbour & Sons in 1785 in Lisburn just outside of Belfast, Ireland. The family continued to grow their flax manufacturing facilities into the nineteenth century, employing between 3,000 and 4,000 in their mills by the time they decided to open a branch in the United States in the 1840s. 


Barbour Linen advertisement in 1883 Travellers Guide

In 1840, Thomas Barbour moved to New York to become the American agent for the Lisburn company and established the Barbour Flax-Spinning Company with his brother Robert; in 1864, Thomas’ son William entered the family business and established branch works in Paterson for flax spinning, largely for shoe thread and linen thread to be used by leather manufacturers. The company purchased Passaic Mill No. 2, a mill previously owned by the Colt company for cotton production, but quickly outgrew the facility.

Late Nineteenth Century Expansion

By 1872, the company employed more than 450 people and determined that a new mill was needed; construction on the Grand Street Mill, located at Grand, Prince, Spring, and Slater Streets, was begun that year, but financial problems precluded its completion until 1877. The mill building, designed by Irish-American architect E.J.M. Derrick, was expanded just a year later in 1878. In 1879, Barbour purchased an additional lot from the S.U.M. in between the raceway and Stony Road for their original Passaic Mill No. 2 site (soon called the Spruce Street Mill), and in 1880 the company purchased parcels directly north and west of Barbour Street from the S.U.M.


Grand Street Mill of the Barbour Flax Spinning Company, in “Paterson, New Jersey. Its advantages for manufacturing and residence- its industries, prominent men, banks, schools, churches, etc,” page 168, 1890.

In 1879, the Spruce Street Mill at the location of the original Colt facility was destroyed by fire but was quickly rebuilt to similar design and style as the one lost. Three years later in 1882, a third mill was completed at Morris and Grand Streets out of granite, a material seen as fireproof at the time, and was typically referred to as the Granite Mill. By the early 1880s, Barbour thus owned three mills in Paterson: the Grand Street Mill, the Spruce Street Mill, and the Granite Mill.


Spruce Street Mill of the Barbour Flax Spinning Company, in “Paterson, New Jersey. Its advantages for manufacturing and residence- its industries, prominent men, banks, schools, churches, etc,” page 169, 1890.

However, although the Granite Mill was owned by the Barbour Flax Spinning Company, it was actually used as a real estate venture rather than an additional manufacturing location for the company. The mill was quickly occupied by silk manufacturers, including Barnes & Peele; at the time, it was noted that “a large portion of the machinery is from the shops of the best machine-builders in the Eastern States, and the braiding plant, which includes nearly 1,000 machines, is the largest to be found in any one establishment in the United States. In the production of silk and mohair braids, for ladies’ dress trimmings, for tailor’s use and other purposes, this firm is without a rival in the country.”


Granite Mill of the Barbour Flax Spinning Company looking west from Grand and Morris Street, in “Paterson, New Jersey. Its advantages for manufacturing and residence- its industries, prominent men, banks, schools, churches, etc,” page 170, 1890. Note the one-story brick building to the right of the Granite Mill, in the current location of the five-story 1909 Store Room.
The Barbour Mark of Quality & Renown

By the last decades of the nineteenth century, Barbour Flax Spinning Company was producing some of the finest quality flax and thread in the United States and across the globe. The company received multiple awards: the “grand prize of honor” of the Linen Section of Great Britain at the Paris Exposition of 1878; medals at the London Exposition of 1862; Turin, 1869; Berlin, 1877; Philadelphia, 1876; Vienna, 1873; the 1893 World’s Fair; and the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics’ Association in 1895. 

William Barbour, from Paterson and Its Prominent Men, 1915.

The Barbours had also become one of the city’s most prominent families; they were a significant property owner in the area, between their industrial holdings and their own residences, and as scholars have pointed out, there was a strong correlation between success in manufacturing and wealth and prominence in Paterson. The descendants of founders Robert and Thomas Barbour continued to run the company and remained significant figures in both New York and Paterson. John Edwards Barbour, son of Robert Barbour, constructed the Barbour Estate, also known as Kilbarchan, on Broadway in Paterson, and founded his own thread and textile business, the J.E. Barbour Company, which he ran until his death in 1941. Other descendants of Robert and Thomas Barbour included Colonel William Barbour; his son, US Senator Warren Barbour; and Thomas Barbour, a professor at Harvard associated with the Peabody Museum. 

The Linen Thread Company

Just before the turn of the twentieth century, the Barbour Flax Spinning Company followed a similar merging pattern to that of the cotton spinners market in Britain only a few decades before. In 1898, Barbour Flax Spinning Co. merged with the Marshall Linen Mills of Kearny, New Jersey (a mill also founded by Scots) and the Finlayson Mills in Massachusetts, as well as several mills in the United Kingdom. Together, they formed the Linen Thread Company, Inc., and became the largest manufacturer of flax thread in the United States. However, the company continued to go by the Barbour name, likely because of its established stance in the international market and its association with high-quality products.

This merger in 1898 made the Linen Thread Company the largest linen thread-manufacturing conglomerate in the world, with headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland. The multi-national company had subsidiary firms, several of which bore the Barbour family name: William Barbour and Sons at Hilden, Northern Ireland; The Barbour Flax Spinning Company at Paterson, New Jersey; Barbour Brothers of New York; The Marshall Thread Company of Newark, New Jersey; Finlayson, Bousfield and Company of Johnstone Scotland and North Grafton, Massachusetts; and W. & J. Knox of Kilbirnie Scotland. A year later in 1899, the F. & W. Hayes and Company of Seapatrick, Ireland joined the conglomerate, and seven more firms joined in 1901 including Dunbar McMaster & Company of Gilford, Ireland and Greenwich, New York. 

As textile and design historian Marilyn Cohen points out in her paper “The Dynamics of Capitalism in the Irish Linen Industry: A ‘Space-Time Structuration Analysis’,” the initial intention of the Linen Thread Company was for the firm to market the specialized product brands of each of the amalgamated mills, but allowing each to retain their “identity and recognized hallmarks.” This effectively allowed the Barbour mills in Paterson to continue producing, marketing, and selling the same goods for years afterwards.

Early Twentieth Century Growth & Expansion

The first decade of the twentieth century, following the formation of The Linen Thread Company, brought Barbour Flax Spinning Company continued growth and expansion in Paterson. By 1901, the Barbour Flax Spinning Company employed 822 at its Paterson facilities, and the company built numerous buildings in 1903 on the Grant Street Mill including a new storehouse on the corner of Dale Avenue and Grand Street. In 1907, local newspapers reported that Barbour was expanding at their Spruce Street location instead of their Newark site, and in March of 1908 it was announced that Barbour would be ending the leases with its tenants in the Granite Mill for their own use. By July 1, 1908, the United Ribbon Company’s Annex Ribbon Co. had left the Granite Mill and Barbour had moved into the building with their own flax machines. 

Over the next decade, Barbour continued to construct additions to their various mills in Paterson, with new buildings at Grand and Spruce Street in 1909, additions to the Spruce Street Mill in 1912, and the purchase of former American Locomotive Company buildings (previously part of the Rogers works) along the Raceway in 1919. During the 1920s, Barbour Flax Spinning Company, under the umbrella company of The Linen Thread Company, had greatly expanded its holdings in both Paterson and across the Northeast; in Paterson, the company owned the Grand Street Mill, the Granite Mill complex (sometimes called the A.H. Hart Mill for its tenant), the expanded Spruce Street Mill, and a new mill on Crooks Avenue in the Lakeview section owned by J.E. Barbour Co. Additional Barbour mills were in Newark, New Jersey; Greenwich, Connecticut; and North Grafton, Massachusetts.

Labor Issues & Eventual Decline

Despite Barbour’s growth in Paterson, the first decades of the twentieth century were also marked by labor issues that reflected the broader labor movements and industrial conflicts of the American East in the 1910s. While the labor disputes and protests at Barbour Flax and Spinning Co. were not nearly as severe and widespread as those of the local silk industry (the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike, for example, involved thousands of workers on strike for five months), they had a strong impact on the lives of their largely immigrant working population. 1916 was a particularly significant year for Barbour workers: on January 1st, wages were raised between 5 and 15 percent, and later that year, the work day was reduced to 9 hours a day and the work week to 50 hours a week from 55. Simultaneously, the company also encouraged company bonding and team spirit through sports leagues; a newspaper specifically for the Barbour Mills, called the “Co-Operator,” was established in 1918.

However, the 1920s saw the start of textile manufacturing decline in Paterson. By 1922, Barbour employed about 2,500 workers, but had to temporarily close its Spruce Street plant because of the high cost of flax and the inability to procure flax fibers that were grown in the United States. This was reflective of larger trends in the textile industry at the time: artificial silk, also known as rayon, was introduced in 1910, and natural fibers like silk and flax would become increasingly more expensive to import and would eventually in the 1940s be largely replaced with synthetic fibers. What’s more, Barbour labor struggles continued into the Great Depression, with strikes throughout the 1920s and a week-long strike of 500 workers in 1939, despite a ten percent wage increase and reduction to a 40-hour work week at Barbour Flax Spinning Mills in 1937. 

Ultimately, Paterson’s textile manufacturing including the Barbour Flax Spinning Company failed to keep pace with this technical development in the industry, and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 led to a high rate of unemployment in the city. Although Barbour still owned the property and continued producing linen thread in 1932, it appears that Barbour sold the Granite Mill buildings in 1934 to the Linen Thread Company, who began to lease the buildings out for other uses. In 1935, 6-12 Morris Street (formerly used as Storage Shed No. 2) was being used by Universal Screen Printing Company, and in 1939 an auction was held at 8 Morris Street, another building at the Granite Mill complex, for the bankruptcy of William Willheim Co, Inc., a local textile manufacturer. As part of the auction, more than 70,000 yards of goods including silks, satin, printed and solid color silk crepe; the auction was a symbol of Paterson’s failing textile industry.

In 1944, the Linen Thread Company closed its New York office, and between 1950 and 1975 the city of Paterson lost 40% of its more than 33,000 manufacturing jobs. Between 1975 and 1997, the city lost more than half of the remaining jobs. This closely mirrored broader national and regional trends of deindustrialization of manufacturing urban areas, and the city thus experienced a period of economic decline, despite a relatively stable population (this is in large part due to significant changes in the city’s ethnic and racial composition).

Workers & Labor Makeup

At all industrial facilities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, labor was the key force for production. To have a comprehensive understanding of the former Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop and the Granite Mill complex in general, it is imperative to discuss the people who worked in these spaces. Typically in the late 1800s, work in textile mills was broken down by both gender and by ethnicity. As Alison Haley and Patrick Harshbarger of Hunter Research point out in their survey of industrial mill buildings outside of the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson:

“Workers were keenly aware of the skill differences of each job and they identified certain jobs with certain ethnic groups. The breweries employed large number of Germans, the Machine & Carpentry Shops preferred workers with English, German and Scandinavian backgrounds. In the dye works, French immigrants, often with a high degree of training and understanding of chemistry, were sought out as master dyers, whereas Italians filled the ranks of dyers helpers, the semi-skilled laborers who manned the tubs.”

Within in these industrial settings, in textile mills women (and children) typically spun, while men wove; men also filled managerial and executive roles throughout the mill regardless of department, and were also employed in the auxiliary buildings and functions like storage spaces and Machine & Carpentry Shops. This dynamic often caused unfair internal labor practices that were exposed in a report by Knights of Labor inspector Leonora Barry in 1887, who wrote about the “abuse, injustice, and suffering” that the women and children endured in Barbour’s linen thread mills, with children earning $2.70 a week for doffing (removing full bobbins of thread and replacing them with empty ones) and women working under constantly wet, freezing conditions, often barefoot on a cold stone floor. Men working in factories often endured low wages and poor conditions as well, but employers tended to engage in poor labor practice on the more vulnerable populations of women and children.

By the 1890s, child labor was no longer a practice in Barbour’s Paterson mills, and workers at Barbour’s mills started to go on strike for better working conditions and higher pay. In 1894, 1200 workers — mostly women — struck for a wage increase of 30 percent. Conditions continually improved for Barbour’s workers over the course of the following decades as the Labor Movement took hold, and by the early 1920s Barbour was advertising open positions at their A.H. Hart Mill for “both experienced and inexperienced female help” who would work from 7am to noon, or 1pm to 5pm and then 7am to noon on Saturdays — roughly a 35 hour work week.

At the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop and Carpentry Shop specifically, employees were men, typically employed as millwrights, clerks, wood turners, machinists and mechanics, and foremen. Most of the employees were Irish or Scottish immigrants or of Irish or Scottish descent, and several had worked Barbour for several decades. Robert McClean, for example, had been employed by Barbour since 1875 and was still working as a foreman of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop in 1918; Alexander Graham had been employed since 1873 and worked as a wood turning foreman in 1918. 

Local newspaper reportings suggest a close-knit group of workers at the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop who played sports together on corporate teams and had developed a strong sense of community. Through the 1910s, Machine & Carpentry Shop workers regularly played together in bowling leagues and basketball teams, competing against other teams from Barbour’s other mill plants like the Grand Street Mill as well as other teams from local mills and factories. When David MacArthur of 44 Paterson Avenue passed away in February of 1912 after working for 43 years at Barbour, the employees of the Machine & Carpentry Shop pooled together their resources as sent the bereaved family a large floral piece, and Mr. Barbour himself sent one as well. Similarly, when Robert J. Mack, an employee at the Machine Shop, passed away just a few short weeks later, the employees of the Machine & Carpentry Shop again sent a standing wreath to his family. The instances highlight the camaraderie that was established by working long hours together, and also provided the trust and groundwork for many of the strikes and protests that would continue throughout the 1920s and 1930s until Barbour no longer used the Granite Machine Shop.

Dolphin Jute Mill History

Neighboring the Barbour Flax Spinning Company’s Granite Mill complex to the north lies the Dolphin Jute Mill site, which was initially developed in the mid-1840s to house the American Hemp Company, a firm that spun hemp into rope. The site’s original buildings were located along the raceway and constructed out of dressed stone and powered by a waterwheel. In 1851, the company was taken over by the Dolphin Manufacturing Company, and the mill began spinning jute and producing twisted jute carpeting. The original mill building was expanded with a fourth floor in 1869, which required the company purchase a steam engine and boiler.

By the early 1880s, the firm was the largest jute factory in the United States, and had constructed a three-story building on the complex along with several other auxiliary structures; the complex was powered by a 180-horsepower water turbine and a separate engine house in the rear of the mill with two steam engines and five boilers. Dolphin primarily produced jute goods, hemp carpeting, napier matting, jute yarns, wrapping, wool, and tobacco twines, with raw materials imported from Calcutta, India, but production shifted to mainly jute by the early 1890s and company was thus renamed the Dolphin Jute Mills in 1891.

The company continued to thrive after the turn of the twentieth century. In 1905, the Dolphin Jute Mills purchased a large strip of land approximately 75 feet wide by 500 feet long and extending nearly to Stony Road from Barbour Flax Spinning Company; the tract lay between the two companies’ mill complexes, and Dolphin planned to expand their business onto the plot, with work expected to begin “as soon as possible.” Fire insurance maps from 1915 confirm the company’s expanded presence on the site, and an additional purchase on the southeast corner of Spruce and Oliver Streets in 1919 from the Rogers Locomotive Works allowed the Dolphin campus to eventually total 17 buildings. However, the jute industry and Paterson’s industrial decline eventually led to Dolphin Jute Mills going out of business in the late 1950s.



Jute Mill of the Dolphin Manufacturing Company from the southwest corner of Barbour and Spruce Streets, in “Paterson, New Jersey. Its advantages for manufacturing and residence- its industries, prominent men, banks, schools, churches, etc,” 1890.

Site Development

Site Development & Tenants, 1830-1880

Prior to the 1870s, the site of the Barbour Flax Spinning Company’s Granite Mill complex was undeveloped land. Early maps of the area show that while Grand, Spruce, and a portion of Morris Street were laid out and in use by the late 1820s and early 1830s, Barbour Street was not created until several decades later, likely when the Barbour’s purchased the so-called “Passaic Mill No. 2” from the Colt family and established it as their Spruce Street Mill (originally christened the “Belfast Mill”) in 1864. A year later in 1865, Thomas Barbour purchased lots from the S.U.M. south of the Dolphin site along the northern border of Barbour Street for use by the Spruce Street Mill; these lots would continue to be used by Barbour into the early 1900s for wood-frame drying houses, likely still serving the Spruce Street Mill. 

Maps from the 1870s indicate that initially, Barbour Street ran west beyond Morris Street, terminating at Hull Street, two blocks west of its current location. By 1877, the future Granite Mill plot had been divided into regular, rectangular parcels, but remained empty; in 1880, Barbour purchased parcels directly north and west of Barbour Street from the S.U.M., expanding their property in the area of Morris and Barbour Streets.

While the Granite Mill site was undeveloped until the construction of the mill in 1881-1882, the adjacent blocks to the north were the site of multiple manufacturing plants, including the Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works, the Barbour Brothers Spruce Street Mill, and the Dolphin Jute Works. To the east of the Granite Mill site were stables and several residential dwellings along Morris Street, Spruce, and Grand Streets.

The manufacturing complexes to the north of the Granite Mill site were located with direct access to the Upper and Middle Raceways, with trunks connecting the raceways to buildings on site. Proximity and connection to the raceways permitted access to the area’s initial primary power source for manufacturing — waterpower — and the area also had the advantage of proximity to the railway, which allowed for low freight rates and cheap coal. 

However, as newer types of power sources such as steam and hydroelectric became popular, the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) adapted; manufacturers that were previously tied to locations adjacent to the raceways and Passaic River were no longer necessary. For Barbour, this permitted the construction of both the Grand Street Mill and the Granite Mill in their locations away from the raceways starting in the 1870s and 1880s. Ultimately, in 1912-14, a central hydroelectric power generating station was built at the Great Falls by the S.U.M.

Site Development & Tenants, 1880-1900

Although Barbour constructed the Granite Mill at the corner of Grand and Spruce Streets in 1882, they initially did not use the mill for their own operations and instead rented out the floors to other manufacturers, primarily in the silk industry. The building was described as “imposing… in size, 405×50 feet, three stories, with walls three feet in thickness, and built in the most substantial manner throughout. Great care has been taken to render it as nearly fireproof as possible, and the safety of the operatives in case of fire has been an especial study in its erection, the corner towers being fitted with elevators and the stairways built of stone.”

The first tenant of the building was Barnes & Peel, who produced silk and mohair braids; they employed nearly 300 people in 1882 at the Granite Mill, running fifty to seventy-five looms and nearly 1,000 braiding machines at the location. By 1883, the C. Meding Silk Ribbon Factory occupied a portion of the building as well.

In 1883, a year after the initial construction of the Granite Mill, Barbour Flax Spinning Company constructed a boiler house and stack on Stony Road to the west of the mill, as well as a boiler house and stack at Granite Mill; the buildings were constructed by the company’s own mechanics. The boiler house and stack were located north of the mill building in the approximate center of the Granite Mill complex,  and the building was constructed out of brick with three flues.

Within five years of its construction in 1887, several other buildings also occupied the Granite Mill site to both serve the tenants of the Granite Mill and Barbour’s other mill locations. A north-south oriented three-story brick building was added to the west end of the Granite Mill, and small wood frame structures were located on the eastern edge of the site along Morris Street. The three-story building was occupied by the C. Meding Silk Ribbon Factory for warping and winding on the first floor and weaving on the second; Meding also occupied the first and second floors of the Granite Mill for warping, winding, and weaving as well as offices. Barnes & Peel remained in the Granite Mill as well, with finishing on the second floor and braiding and winding, spinning, and braiding on the third floor. Another tenant was the S. Thorp Silk Throwing, who occupied the first floor and had a Machine & Carpentry Shop on the second floor.

Two long and narrow wood frame drying sheds occupied the northern portion of the site, with a long and narrow wood frame storage shed just south of them. These storage and drying sheds were used by Barbour rather than their tenants, perhaps as part of their Spruce Street Mill production, and were likely used in concert with three additional wood frame drying sheds and two masonry storage sheds located just north of the current location of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop.

By 1899, the site had further evolved, with additional structures added including a one-story office along Morris Street and a brick hackling shed that partially replaced one of the wood frame drying sheds along the northern edge of the site. The Granite Mill building itself had also been modified: an additional floor had been added in brick rather than the original granite, bringing its height to four stories; this work was completed sometime between 1887 and 1890. Sanborn maps do not name specific tenants for any of the buildings at the Granite Mill site, instead referring to the whole plot as owned by Barbour Flax Spinning Company. This notation included the three drying sheds and two store houses located north of the current Machine & Carpentry Shop site.

The Granite Mill building during this period had flax storage on the first floor; winding, warping, and weaving, as well as a woodworking and Machine & Carpentry Shop on the second floor; blocking, winding, and finishing on the third floor; and weaving on the fourth floor. Simultaneous processes on multiple floors indicate that the building was likely still used by multiple tenants. 

Site Development & Tenants, 1900-1930

Although the Granite Mill was well-established by the turn of the century, several of the smaller streets in its vicinity remained improperly paved and surfaced. In 1902, the Barbour Flax Spinning Company was looking to ease access to the site, and put in a petition to the city asking that Morris and Barbour Streets be curbed, guttered, and properly paved; the city agreed to do so, with plans to pave the street with old Belgian block. In 1905, Barbour sold the narrow strip of land just north of the current site of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop to Dolphin Jute Mills; the parcel was approximately 75 feet wide by 500 feet long, extending from Spruce Street to Stony Road, and had housed three wood frame drying sheds and two masonry storage houses. 

Despite this localized property sale, Barbour Flax Spinning Company continued to grow. In 1908, the company proposed opening a new linen plant in Newark but instead chose to expand into the Granite Mill and ended the leases with their tenants on July 1, 1908. The new plant was estimated to employ about two hundred workers, and by May of 1908, machinery from Barbour’s New York mill was already starting to be transferred to the Granite Mill location.

Over the next few years, Barbour proceeded to make alterations to the Granite Mill and its surrounding site. A year later in 1909, the five-story, brick masonry Store House No. 1 was completed, located along the eastern edge of the site. Around the same time between 1909 and 1911, the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop and Carpentry Shop were completed at the northern edge of the site in the former location of Barbour’s wood frame drying sheds and hackling shed.

in July 1909, a large stack at the Granite Mill was removed “in order to make room for a storehouse which is being built” on the same site; the storehouse was to serve Barbour’s “many branches” and reused the brick from the chimney’s destruction (this would later be called Store House No. 2 in the 1915 Sanborn map). The chimney measured twelve feet by twelve feet at the base, eight feet by eight feet at the top with a five-foot diameter flue and approximately 156 feet high, making it one of the tallest in the area. The new storehouse was anticipated to cost $40,00, and was likely part of Barbour’s expanding use of the Granite mill.

By 1915, the site largely resembled its current configuration. The main mill continued to be owned by the Barbour Flax Spinning Company, and was leased to one of William Barbour’s companies, the A.H. Hart Company, who used it for the Elm Flax Mill. Under this single tenant, a Machine & Carpentry Shop, carpenter shop, bobbin storage, and carding occupied the first floor; winding and repairing the second; winding, reeling, and scrubbing the third; and spinning and twisting the fourth. The connecting three-story addition to the west of the Granite Mill building was used for hemp storage on the first and second floors and reeling on the third.

Store House No. 1 had jute, flax, and hemp storage in the basement; an office, shipping room, and twine storage on the first floor; hemp and twine storage on the second, third, and fourth floors; and twine and spool storage on the fifth. Two wood frame bridges connected this building to the Granite Mill at the second, third, and fourth stories. The presence of the two bridges and the use of the building at this time largely for storage suggests that the building was originally constructed as an auxiliary building to the Granite Mill itself, rather than as a building for individual use as a mill.

At this time, Store House No. 1 also had a single-story wood frame addition on the western facade facing the interior courtyard, likely to provide coverage against inclement weather for deliveries and the movement of goods around the site. By 1915, Store House No. 2 had also been expanded, with a connecting frame building added to the west and called Store House No. 3, used for machinery storage. 

It is unclear if the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop, which housed a carpenter shop and Machine & Carpentry Shop in 1915, was constructed in two phases between 1909 and 1911, as potentially indicated by the granite date blocks individually installed on an east and west portion of the building. The 1915 Sanborn map notes the distinct uses for the two parts of the building, as well as the presence of the saw-tooth roof on the eastern portion. The building also had a U-shaped wood frame shed addition on its eastern end, adjacent to Morris Street. The Sanborn map also indicates that the entire building was used for the production and maintenance of jute and hemp spinning machinery, perhaps for the nearby Spruce Street Mill, which did not have a Machine & Carpentry Shop or carpentry shop as part of its complex, while the Elm Flax Mill at the Granite Mill had both functions on its first floor. Newspaper articles refer to the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop as “another branch of the Barbour concern,” further suggesting that the building did in fact operate to some extent as its own entity rather than as part of the A.H. Mill or Granite Mill.

It is unlikely that the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop served Dolphin Jute Mills, as they also had their own dedicated one-story brick structure for a machine and carpentry shop just northeast of that on Barbour’s parcel.

Site Development & Tenants, 1930-1975

By 1930, Sanborn maps indicate only minor changes to Barbour’s buildings at Morris and Barbour Streets. The 1930 Sanborn map notes the same structures shown in the 1915 Sanborn, but with less detail: the Granite Mill is indicated as being used by Elm Flax Mill; what was formerly called Store House No. 1 was called the A.H. Hart Mill; and the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop is indicated by a simple rectangle with no annotations. The Sanborn map shows the presence of the U-shaped wood frame shed on the eastern side of the Machine & Carpentry Shop, confirmed by a 1931 aerial photograph of the area.

Unfortunately, little is known about the changes to the site between 1930 and the early 1970s, when the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) completed photographic and historic surveys of the area. By 1953, historic aerial photographs show a large, irregularly-shaped one-story addition had been added to the building’s western end, and the wood frame shed on the eastern portion of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop were still present, although there appears to be a distinction in the roof structure between two portions of the addition, which is confirmed by earlier Sanborn fire insurance maps.

By 1966, this U-shaped eastern addition to the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop was mostly removed, with the northern and eastern portions removed. However, a small one-story addition attached to the east end of the building remained, although its construction of brick and concrete block suggests that it was not part of the wood-frame U-shaped structure. Similar construction — brick at the main facade with concrete masonry blocks at secondary facades — is found at the irregularly-shaped western addition, potentially suggesting that they may have been added at approximately the same time.

Photographs from the early 1970s conducted by HAER comprise aerial and ground photographs of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop and the Granite Mill complex in general. At that time, the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop was used for light industrial manufacturing by Ferrulmatic, Inc, an engineering and manufacturing company specializing in precision products for the munitions, industrial power tool, fluid control and medical industries. 

The site of the Granite Mill complex shown in the photographs is similar to its current site conditions: the campus is accessed from the east via Barbour Street, with a large central paved area in the middle of the complex that was used for parking. Along the southern border of the site was the Granite Mill; to the west its extension, steep ridges, and the Machine & Carpentry Shop’s irregular west addition; to the north lay the former Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop; and to the east was the entrance to Barbour Street/Morris Street and the former Storage House No. 1. The area to the east of the former Machine & Carpentry Shop, where its U-shaped wood frame addition had previously been located, was used as a parking and delivery area, with trucks backed up to one of the east addition’s large rolling garage doors. A curb ran along the front of the former Machine & Carpentry Shop, allowing cars and trucks to park along the building’s long frontage.

The HAER photographs show the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop with uncovered windows at the ground level, likely the original pivot windows in steel frames; only one window has been completely removed or covered up and had its stone sill removed so that it can be used as an employee entrance. Several other windows have missing panes that are boarded up with plywood.

Similarly, the three circular windows located in the end gables of each of the “teeth” of the saw-tooth roof were also uncovered at the east side, but were either obscured or used for ventilation on the west end. An aerial photograph depicts the saw-tooth roof with windows on the north side; while it is possible to see the mullions that divided the panes of glass, it is unclear if the glazing was still in tact or was removed or covered. Other portions of the roof, in particular the southern side of the saw-tooth roof, had multiple roof penetrations for exhaust fans, likely for the light industrial manufacturing work that continued inside the building. Of note in these images is the presence of debris and overgrown plantings around 2-6 Morris Street, indicating that the building was maintained according to its industrial use rather than as a precious historic resource. 

Site Development & Tenants, 1975-Present

Although the HAER photographs from the early 1970s depict the eastern addition as constructed of CMU on its eastern facade, this portion of the building is today clad in brick laid up in simple running bond and painted pink. A date stone at the ground reads “1986.” The interior of this addition is exposed CMU, suggesting that the work completed in 1986 was simply a cladding of the existing CMU rather than the construction of a new addition.

By 1987, a small wood frame addition clad in sheet metal siding was added to the southern elevation of the building, spanning three window bays and located in the western portion of the former carpentry shop.

Records indicate that by the late 1970s, the building was leased to Triarco Industries, a chemical manufacturer established in 1978 that used 2-6 Morris Street as their production facility; the company produced nutritional supplements, flavors, and fragrances. The company’s IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in July of 1998, when the company still had its production facilities at that location, indicate that the production facility was used for “grinding, distilling, packaging, and other production functions” as well as “quality control, quality assurance, and R&D.” By 2008, TRB Electro, Corporation, a leader in metal-finishing technology, was also located at 6 Morris Street.

Tenant List

1882:
– Barnes & Peel, who produced silk and mohair braids; they employed nearly 300 people in 1882 at the Granite Mill, running fifty to seventy-five looms and nearly 1,000 braiding machines at the location

1883:
– Granite Mill: C.E. Meding Silk Ribbon Manufacturer

1887:
– Granite Mill: Barnes & Peel Silk & Mohair Braid Manuf. on 2nd & 3rd floor; S. Thorp Silk Throwing on 1st floor; C. Meding Silk Ribbon Factory on 1st and 2nd floor
Barbour Flax & Spinning Co yard drying sheds and storage sheds for jute, hemp, flax (in frame sheds)
– new north-south brick building: C. Meding Silk Ribbon Facility

1899:
– Granite Mill: only has Barbour Flax Spinning written across whole lot; have 1 story brick office, multiple wood frame drying sheds, and a brick hackling house

1907: newspaper said that lease was to the Meding Silk company, the Samuel Aronsohn company, and the Passaic Silk company

1908: United Ribbon Company’s Annex Ribbon Co. had left the Granite Mill

1910:
-Granite Mill: Elm Flax Mill

1915:
– Granite Mill: Barbour Flax Spinning Co. leased to the A.H. Hart Co, running the Elm Flax Mill in main mill, north-south addition
(note says that power and heat are through steam; lighting is electric; fuel is coal; sprinklers throughout
– Store House No. 1 for storage
– Machine & Carpentry Shop: Barbour Flax Spinning Co. Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop “manufacturers of hemp & jute machinery” — is Machine & Carpentry Shop and carpentry shop for Spruce Street Mill? Doesn’t have its own and note says to “see note spruce street mill”

1922:
– A.H. Hart Mill: Elm Flax Mill (Elm Flax Mills of the A.H. Hart Company with William Barbour as president, producing flax yarns, twines, and shoe threads out of the Granite Mill)

1930:
– Granite Mill: Elm Flax Mill (Elm Flax Company of the A.H. Hart Company, which was in turn owned by the Linen Thread Company of which William Barbour was the president
– Storage Building: A.H. Hart Mill.
– Machine & Carpentry Shop: unlabeled

1935:
– 6-12 Morris Street: leased to Universal Screen Printing Co.,

1946:
-8 Morris Street leased to Plasticraft. Other subsequent occupants of 8 Morris Street include Jackson Winding Company,

1963:
– Universal Screen Printing Co. still in Paterson, leases space for another branch in Gastonia, NC

1973:
– 6 Morris street: Ferrulmatic Inc.

2017:
– Machine & Carpentry Shop: Triarco and TRB Electroplating

2019: TRB Electroplating

Machine and Carpentry Shop Construction & Uses 

Granite Mill Complex Purpose & Functions

In order to discuss the functions of the Storage Building and Machine & Carpentry Shop, it is necessary to understand the general process of spinning flax approximately at the turn of the twentieth century. Typically, a company would import the raw flax from somewhere in the United States or Europe; the flax would need to be “dressed,” or prepared to be spun, by removing the fibers from the straw and cleaning it enough so that it could be spun. To do this, the fibers would go through the first step, “breaking,” where the fibers are broken in preparation for the “scutching” process, which separates impurities like straw and woody stems from the raw flax. 

After the scutching step, the flax fibers are ready for “heckling” or “hackling,” which splits and straightens the fibers, preparing them to be spun; this occurs as the fiber is pulled through heckling combs of varying sizes, starting with coarser combs and ending with finer-toothed combs as the flax approaches a spinning-ready state. Once the flax has been heckled, it is typically spun into yarn, twisted into thread, wound onto spools, or woven or knit into linen textiles. After this point, they may be bleached, dyed, printed on, or finished with a coating or specific treatment like a water-resistant coating or wax.

At the Granite Mill site in the 1880s, the early tenants  of the Granite Mill leased the space from Barbour and used the mill building for producing silk and mohair ribbons and related silk products rather than flax. This included machinery for warping (the first part in the weaving process), winding, weaving, spinning, finishing, and braiding silk thread. The drying sheds on the northern portion of the site that were likely still used by Barbour for their Spruce Street Mill were used in the last stage of flax thread production, where the company’s jute, flax, and hemp were stored and dried in wood frame sheds. Separating each of the long, narrow sheds was a narrow open corridor.

In 1899, while the site was still being leased by Barbour to local textile mills, this time for linen production, the Granite Mill building housed machinery for winding, warping, doubling and fulling (cleaning processes that remove impurities and made the cloth or thread thicker), weaving, finishing, and blocking of flax. The wood frame sheds on the northern portion of the site still functioned as storage and drying sheds, although one building was used for hackling and was connected via a wood frame shed to a larger drying shed. 

By 1915 when Barbour was using the Granite Mill site for its own subsidiaries including the Elm Flax Mills of the A.H. Hart Company,  the main mill building had machinery for a carpenter shop, carding (the disentangling and cleaning stage), winding, repairing, reeling (winding thread onto a holder like a spool), scrubbing, spinning, and twisting of flax into linen, while Storehouse No. 1 stored raw materials as well as spools for spinning. 

By this point, the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop contained both a Machine & Carpentry Shop and a carpentry shop — two trades that were intimately tied together in mills and factories at the time. Mill machinery in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were constructed of wood and metal, and therefore the production and repair of these machines required a close physical and intellectual relationship and collaboration between the two facilities, resulting in their close proximity at most textile manufacturing plants. For example, at the Dolphin Jute Mills directly north of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop, the carpentry and Machine & Carpentry Shop were adjacent to each other as well. It is likely that the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop continued to serve this combined purpose of building and repairing Barbour’s machinery — likely for the equipment located at the Spruce Street Mill — until the mill closed in the 1930s, after which it continued to be used for light industrial manufacturing.

Original & Current Machine & Carpentry Shop Construction

2-6 Morris Street was built using typical construction techniques for a single-story industrial building completed in the first decade of the twentieth century with two later additions. The original footprint of the building constructed in 1909-1910 can be divided into two sections: an eastern portion with a three-bay saw tooth roof that runs east-west, and a western portion originally with a lower flat roof. Today, this roof also has a bump-up along the northern side and several covered skylights. From the exterior, the east and west portions of the buildings have a unified, continuous elevation aside from the roof construction. The eastern portion was originally used as a Machine & Carpentry Shop and the western portion as a carpentry shop, likely serving Barbour’s Spruce Mill located just a few parcels north on Spruce Street, separated by the Dolphin Jute Mill.

Overall Exterior Construction

2-6 Morris Street was originally constructed with 20” thick, five-wythe brick load-bearing exterior walls laid up in American bond. The saw-toothed roof construction over the eastern portion of 2-6 Morris Street was designed to bring in northern light, known for its even, low-glare lighting appropriate for work spaces. The three saw-tooths ran east-west so that the northern elevation of the saw-tooths could be glazed, while the southern elevations would be solid. Originally, the northern-facing glazing was divided into three panes of ribbed ¼” glass supported by wood mullions, although today these elements, like the arched windows, are enclosed with plywood and particleboard on the interior and roofing material on the exterior. Probes in this area confirmed the glazing and mullion system; the rest of the roof in both the fort met carpentry ship and Machine & Carpentry Shop consisted of 8” wide tongue and groove roof decking, now covered with bituminous coating.

North & South Elevations

The north elevation is a brick party wall abutting the former Dolphin Jute Mills property to the north, and the south elevation featured 20 arched openings for 19 windows and 1 opening for a door or entry. The windows on the south side of the building were glazed arched units with six-over-six double-hung sashes at the two lower portions and a fixed six-over-six arched window at the upper third. Today, all of these windows have been boarded up on both the interior and the exterior with layers of plywood, metal lathe, and stucco. However, probes into these coverings reveals that these windows were typically wood sashes with ribbed ⅛” glass to provide an even, diffuse light.

Sometime between 1987 and 2002, a small addition of approximately 350 square feet was added to the western portion of the south elevation. This addition is clad in metal siding on wood studs with an asphalt shingle roof.

East & West Elevations

The currently visible east elevation is a later addition to the building, and the facade of the original east elevation is now an interior elevation. The original east elevation had a large, wide central arched opening with two sets of smaller arched windows with granite sills on the south side and a single arched window and an arched pedestrian doorway on the north. This arched pedestrian doorway was likely to provide access to the former U-shaped, wood-frame structure. 

Today, the doorway leads into part of the eastern addition, itself with a very small addition off of this doorway, and the original arched windows have been infilled with concrete block. The original arched entryway has been widened, and the entire original eastern elevation has been covered with painted stucco.

The eastern addition was added sometime in between 1931 and the early 1970s, but was likely completed before 1966. The southern wall that is in plane with the original south wall of the building is brick, but the east facade is constructed of concrete masonry units that have since been reclad with brick, likely in 1986, per the date stone at the current east elevation. The south and east elevations of the east addition each have a single roll-up garage door present since at least the early 1970s, and the two windows seen in the HAER photographs on the east elevation of the eastern addition have been infilled.

Originally, the west elevation of the building was visible from the exterior, and was similar to the east elevation, with a central wide, arched opening flanked by two smaller windows on either side. Today, this elevation is now an interior one, with an irregularly-shaped western addition added sometime between 1931 and 1966, likely at approximately the same time as the eastern addition because of its similar construction. Both additions have brick on the facade facing the central court or parking area of the mill site, with concrete masonry units at secondary elevations. 

The south facade of the western addition has now been covered with stucco or some other kind of cementitious material. It has a flat roof approximately two feet higher that of the former carpentry shop. The west elevation of this addition is a masonry retaining wall against the steep ridge behind, and the north wall, also made of concrete masonry units, is a party wall to the lot behind. The only point of entry into the western addition from the exterior is through the roll-up garage door on the eastern elevation, although access from the interior is through the formerly exterior arched entry. 

Structural Design

Structurally, these four parts of the building are distinct. The original eastern portion of the building with the saw-toothed roof has a structural system comprised of 10” wood columns with cast iron column capitals supporting a system of heavy timber roof joists and purlins located 12’-0” on center. A steel beam runs north-south at the juncture where the east and west sections of the building meet. The roof is comprised of 8” wide tongue and groove decking that sits directly on the roof joists; today, the roof appears to be covered with a bituminous coating under a liquid-applied Kemper-like system with several roof penetrations for ventilation.

The original western portion of the building has a structural system that is difficult to discern because of the insertion of multiple concrete masonry unit interior partitions that have either replaced or enclosed original structural elements. Several 8” metal columns have been identified in this section of the building, but they are typically embedded into the masonry wall construction. Furthermore, the roof bump-ups for added ceiling height in some of the rooms in the back of the building have further complicated the structural clarity of this area. 

Similar to the part of the building with the saw-tooth roof, the roof of the former carpentry shop consists of tongue and groove decking that sitting directly on roof joists; the roof slopes down slightly to the center of the building for drainage. Today, the roof of this portion appears to be covered with a bituminous coating under a Kemper-like system, and many of the angled skylights visible in the 1970s HAER photographs have either been removed or covered. However, along the northern edge of the building, a portion of the roof has been bumped up approximately 8’-0” feet, likely to allow for higher ceiling heights in the rooms below, which formerly housed large vats of chemicals with outfitted with ladders for access. Mechanical equipment is also present on this roof, as well as several roof penetrations for ventilation.

The eastern addition is small in size and is entirely load-bearing on its 8” CMU exterior walls; it is not believed that the brick cladding provides any structural support. The western addition is supported by an unusual hybrid system of metal columns with poured-in-place concrete bases supporting steel beams running east-west that support wood joists running north-south. Wood tongue and groove decking sits on the wood joists, and the exterior is covered with what appears to be a bituminous coating. As previously mentioned, the last addition on the south facade of the building is of 2-by-4 wood frame construction.

Typology of Machine & Carpentry Shops

Integral to the function and livelihood of manufacturing in Paterson and in industry in general was the relationship between the mills, where production occurred, and the Machine & Carpentry Shops, where the machines were built and repaired. Henry Burghardt, in his book Machine Tool Operation (1919), defined a “Machine & Carpentry Shop” as “a place in which metal parts are cut to the size required and put together to form mechanical units or machines, the machines so made to be used directly or indirectly in the production of the necessities and luxuries of civilization.”

Machine shop at Watson probably ca. 1890. Forms part of a group of images which are copies of historical photos from Watson Machine International, a machine tool manufacturing company located at 74 Railroad Avenue, Paterson, New Jersey. These photographs were provided by Pete Buonforte. AFC 1995/028: WIP-RM-C025-04.

From the early days of Paterson’s industrial history, Machine & Carpentry Shops were located near, if not within, the textile mills that they served for ease of repairing spindles, bobbins, looms, and other machinery. Through the first third of the nineteenth century, the typical Machine & Carpentry Shop was run by blacksmiths and carpenters; machines until the 1840s were mostly made of wood with metal fasteners, and a local census taker in Paterson counted eleven blacksmith shops, two millwrights, and one foundry. 

However, by the 1840s, iron and steel became increasingly used in machinery in the place of wood, and the more sophisticated technology required more experienced workers, ultimately making Machine & Carpentry Shops less an “adjunct” of the textile mill and more of an independent shop. By 1850, the number of Machine & Carpentry Shops in Paterson had grown to six, each with their own small foundries; all appear to have  been largely engaged in the construction and repair of cotton, flax, and hemp machinery. 

By 1880, Paterson was home to more than forty-four industrial establishments that gave employment to 5,827 workers: 3 locomotive plants, 1 rolling mill, 2 large iron and steel foundries, 3 brass foundries, 1 patented steam radiator company, 3 boiler and steam engine builders, and the most in textile equipment for cotton, silk, hemp, and flax manufacturers. Each industrial establishment required machinery that needed to be designed, created, and maintained, causing an increasing number of Machine & Carpentry Shops either integrated into mill buildings, often on the ground floor, or as separate, distinct structures. As the number of Machine & Carpentry Shops increased in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, so too did the study of shop management and theories of production, time studies, and Machine & Carpentry Shop management, leading to several publications covering the design and practice in Machine & Carpentry Shops.

In 1906, mechanical engineer and inventor Oscar Perrigo published Modern Machine & Carpentry Shop Construction, Equipment and Management which devoted an entire part of his book — some fifteen chapters — to the design and construction of Machine & Carpentry Shops, ranging from slow-burning brick construction to heating and lighting systems. Perrigo notes that Machine & Carpentry Shops should be compact in form but capable of easy expansion in any direction, with  a railroad track near the works; the Machine & Carpentry Shop would ideally be long and narrow in plan, potentially with adjacent buildings or rooms for storage, carpentry, or direct off-loading from railroads.

Of particular interest related to the Machine & Carpentry Shop at 2-6 Morris Street are the chapters “One-Story Machine & Carpentry Shop of Brick and Wood” and “Saw Tooth Construction of Roofs”; as Perrigo notes, the saw-tooth construction of roofs had become popular for one-story shops where large areas of floor surface with good natural lighting are desirable, and the “slow burning construction” was popular with insurance companies because of their ability to resist fire — a major problem at the time. 

Perrigo describes the one-story brick and wood Machine & Carpentry Shops as ideal and economical when “little grading or preliminary preparation is necessary, and when the stock, materials, and machinery are all comparatively heavy.” These buildings were economical to construct and operate, because material and stock could be easily and inexpensively moved around, and a traveling crane could aid in this endeavor as well. 

Construction-wise, he advised walls to be 16 inches thick, brick, and composed of bays of 10 feet with no buttresses or pilasters needed on the exterior walls. Roof timbers could be 8”x16” placed at 10 feet on center supported by 10”x10” central posts; the traveling crane could be bolted to a track mounted to the central posts (see figure XX). Foundation piers would have to be large and deep, in particular for buildings with heavy machinery, and flooring should be 1 ½” hardwood floor over 3” wood planks on top of floor timbers over hot poured tar over a 6” bed of cinder or broken stone. The windows at the exterior walls could be of two or three pivoting or sliding sashes, with ribbed or clear glass.

In the chapter on saw tooth roof construction, Perrigo notes that it sacrificed “appearance” and “symmetry” for the practicality of even illumination on the floor, regardless of size. Previous designs had often meant that buildings had a dark central bay that didn’t receive the same daylighting as the two or more exterior bays near windows. Typically, the roof would have a broken roof of multiple asymmetrical gables: one part of the gable, the roof proper, would have an include of about 15 degrees, while the glazed portion would have an incline of about 60 degrees. Like the other typical machine room layouts that Perrigo describes, a heavy traveling crane would likely still be used in the central bay of the building, and the windows at the roof may be hinged for ventilation, although leaking is often an issue, and ribbed glazing to avoid glare and direct sunlight was advised. Perrigo recommends covering the roof with 3” thick, 6” wide grooved wood planks covered with “rosin-sized” roofing paper, mopped with hot tar, and covered with tin or some other kind of metal roofing with a painted underside.

Machine & Carpentry Shops continued to play a significant role in industry and manufacturing throughout the twentieth century as the machines and technologies they housed improved with the introduction of electrically-powered machines and motors (rather than the early 20th century typical machine tools powered by a mechanical belt which was in turn powered by a central steam engine), new cutting materials like high-speed steel, and better organization of production methods through the new field of scientific management. Today, Machine & Carpentry Shops still exist, most often with automated machines that incorporate computer technologies such as numerical control (NC) automation, computer numerical control (CNC), and computer aided design (CAD).

Site Conditions & Layout

The former Barbour Flax Spinning Company’s complex at the Granite Mill is located east of the intersection of Barbour Street and Morris Street in Paterson, New Jersey in what is now the Great Falls Historic District, an area east of the Passaic River. The Barbour complex is located along the south border of the district, with Barbour and Morris Streets serving as a soft delineation between historically residential and industrial uses: to the east and south lay the city’s first working-class neighborhood, Little Dublin, while to the north lay several industrial complexes for Dolphin Jute Mills and other manufacturers. To the west is a steep ridge with dense tree that rises up to ultimately give way to the Upper Raceway about 200 feet to the west.

The Barbour complex is located on a roughly rectangular site running approximately 450 feet in the east-west direction and approximately 200 feet in the north-south direction. The campus follows the typical general layout of a mill campus in which various mill and storage buildings surround an open yard where support buildings like a blacksmith, carpenter shop, powerhouse, or warehouse might be located. The campus currently consists of four distinct buildings: the long, four-story Granite Mill along the south end of the property with a smaller three-story brick addition at its west end that runs north-south; the five-story brick masonry Storage Building at the east side of the property; the long, single-story brick masonry Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop along the northern edge of the site with a wider addition on the west; and a single-story brick building with multiple shed additions connecting to the ground floor of the Granite Mill.

The complex is accessed from the east off of Morris Street, shortly after the western termination of Barbour Street. While the grounds of the campus itself are paved in asphalt, Morris and Barbour Streets are paved with granite cobblestones. Generally, the paving of the parking lot is in fair to poor condition, with large areas of cracks, fissures, puddling, and dislocation of paving. The multiple joint lines and distinct paving sections throughout the courtyard of the campus indicate many campaigns of paving, with some smaller sections paved in light gray-beige concrete.

Several areas of the site are enclosed with a chain link fence, likely to create a parking area that was specific to the various tenants of each of the buildings. Immediately east of the Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop along the northern border of the site is a parking area approximately fifty feet by fifty feet enclosed with a chain link fence. Additional fencing is located running east-west at the western edge of the property in between the extension to the Granite Mill and the addition to the Machine & Carpentry Shop. Various bollards, also in fair to poor condition, have been installed in specific areas around the site to protect electrical poles and other vulnerable sites.

Site Alterations Over Time Summary

1880: Purchase of Granite Mill site by Barbour Flax Mill

1882: Construction of Granite Mill; mill leased out to other entities and not used directly by Barbour 

1882-1900: Addition of fourth story to Granite Mill

1908: Barbour Flax Spinning Company moves its own flax mill subsidiaries (A.H. Hart Company, Elm Flax Mills) into Granite Mill site

1909: Construction of Store House No. 1 

1909-1911: Construction of Granite Machine & Carpentry Shop and Carpentry Shop at 2-6 Morris Street

1931-1966: East and West Additions added to 2-6 Morris street

1979-1987: Shed addition at west end of south facade

1986: Recladding of east facade of East Addition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s