2020-04-14: Keene woolen mill named to National Register of Historic Places2020-04-14T08:55:55-04:00


Shelly Angers, N.H. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources
Twitter: @NHDNCR

Keene woolen mill named to National Register of Historic Places

The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources has announced that the Faulkner and Colony Woolen Mill in Keene has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places as a significant site of manufacturing history.

Faulkner and Colony Woolen Mill is one of the largest, oldest and most successful manufacturers in the history of Keene. When wool from merino sheep became popular in the early 19th century, the hills surrounding Keene and nearby communities were cleared for sheep pastures and large-scale wool processing and manufacturing was needed.

In 1815, Francis Faulkner and Josiah Colony purchased nearly all mills and water privileges on the Ashuelot River, beginning at its source in Washington.

The main Faulkner and Colony mill building was constructed in 1838 and expanded in 1859. Additions in the twentieth century included a dye house, finishing room, engine room and picker house. The footprint of the 3-1/2 story brick mill remains much the same as it did during its peak period of operation.

The property also includes a brick former boarding house, built in 1810 as a private residence but later used to house mill workers, and a brick storehouse that was built when the main mill building was expanded in 1859.

The Faulkner and Colony Woolen Mill chronicles the evolution of a typical New England textile mill over more than a century. In its early years, after wool was carded, local residents then took the wool home to spin and weave, returning it to the mill for finishing. By 1855, the mill was producing 700,000 yards of twilled flannel per year.

The mill produced a wide variety of wool fabrics that had their place in history, including long john union suits for miners in the California Gold Rush; uniforms, blankets and tents for the Union Army during the Civil War; olive drab fabric for officers’ uniforms and fuse cloth for high explosive shells during World War I; and uniform material for U.S., French, Russian and Norwegian troops during World War II.

After the second World War, the mill could not longer compete with southern textile mills and wool clothing generally fell out of favor as synthetic materials became popular.

When Faulkner and Company ceased operations in 1953, it was Keene’s oldest manufacturer and the second oldest woolen mill in the nation run by the original family at the same location.

In 1983, renovations converted the first two floors of the main mill building into retail space with office on the third floor. The complex was recently renovated again for residential apartments.

Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of historic resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.

Listing to the National Register does not impose any new or additional restrictions or limitations on the use of private or non-federal properties. Listings identify historically significant properties and can serve as educational tools and increase heritage tourism opportunities. The rehabilitation of National Register-listed commercial or industrial buildings may qualify for certain federal tax provisions.

In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).

For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact the Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.

New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources, the State Historic Preservation Office, was established in 1974 and is part of the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. NHDHR’s mission is to preserve and celebrate New Hampshire’s irreplaceable historic resources through programs and services that provide education, stewardship, and protection. For more information, visit us online at nh.gov/nhdhr or by calling 603-271-3483.