HOLYOKE, MA ~ 1878
One of Holyoke's once-numerous paper manufacturing plants, the Albion Paper mill was capable of producing 40,000 pounds of paper each day, at its peak employing hundreds of workers.
Originally constructed on the site of the Hampton Company mill, the Albion Paper mill was a two-building, two and three-story complex. Nestled between the Connecticut River and the third level of the city's planned canals, the mill took advantage of an impressive 20+ foot water level differential in generating power.
Finished in February of 1878, the mill was built with massive Heart Pine timbers and bricks, and included a three-story mansard-roofed belltower. Later additions were framed out with a mix of steel and Southern Yellow Pine beams. The original canalfront building's attic was covered with wider white pine flooring, while other floors hosted square-edged Babcock Lumber hard maple flooring in thinner planks.
The tower, which called laborers to work at the beginning of each shift, was replicated on another portion of the complex after 1887; it later included a freight elevator. Railroad spurs were eventually built to run along both the canal and the river, allowing materials to be easily transferred between freight cars and the area's manufacturing facilities.
While operated by the Albion Paper Company, the mill manufactured book, envelope, and writing paper at a rate that grew from two tons per day to 20 tons per day.
In 1899, after Albion Paper accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars of unexpected and crippling debt, the company was folded into the American Writing Paper Company, a sizable trust built from over one dozen nearby paper companies, including the Crocker, Gill, Nonotuck, and Mt. Tom companies. In 1906, after the consolidation, the Albion mill was listed as capable of producing an impressive 40,000 pounds of paper per day. A 1912 edition of The Paper Makers Journal describes the mill as manufacturing half-tone and English finish book papers.
Today, the building is being demolished as a part of the revitalization and redevelopment of Holyoke's riverside properties. Two Holyoke Gas & Electric hydroelectric turbines housed in the complex will be taken offline. Longleaf Lumber has been lucky enough to salvage old growth Heart Pine beams, softwood decking, white pine flooring, and maple flooring from this project, along with some of the building's original bricks and architectural details.
When we were reviewing this project, looking for new information about this post, we came across this interesting video by Robbie Maynard, taken at the site.
Top image courtesy nonotuck.us.
our photographs of the reclamation process