Thursday, March 27, 2008

road not taken

Bettie Baltimore, courtesy of the Drumheller Collection

In the seventies the Charlottesville mill had continually made improvements and additions to its property in bad times as well as good. The period under study witnessed a continuation of this policy in two directions. One was toward expanded facilities in the face of fast-growing sales; the other was a search for more and better power devices.

The building program extended throughout the years from 1883 to 1917. None of the structures was large or expensive. Mostly they were small detached units scattered about the main building. A few were new dwellings for employees. Nevertheless, by 1887 a visitor, marvelling at the activity, jestingly expressed wonder that the area did not "ask for articles of incorporation in the near future, and set up the town business for herself." Unfortunately, with manufacturing costs low and with a steadily growing market for its goods, the mill did not systematically plan its new structures for the efficient movement of production from one department to the next. After the first World War, when keen business competition necessitated a more economical organization, a whole new program had to be launched.--Harry Poindexter

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