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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Winchester, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Virginia Woolen Company and Lewis Jones Knitting Mill

Textiles, Transportation, and Technology

 
 
The Virginia Woolen Company and Lewis Jones Knitting Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 24, 2016
1. The Virginia Woolen Company and Lewis Jones Knitting Mill Marker
Inscription. Born near Burnt Factory in Frederick Co., Virginia in 1867, Ed Johnston was determined to escape the life of a farm laborer. He learned the mechanic's trade at the Middletown Carriage Factory, and by age 25 worked in the B&O Railroad shops in Brunswick, Maryland. Johnston became the Woolen Company's first employee on January 20, 1901. He installed the power plant and all machinery and oversaw its upkeep until his death in 1936. As stated by historian Wilbur S. Johnston, "like most of the mill's employees, the woolen mill was his life."

Textile mills accounted for three of Winchester's top ten employers in 1925, with the two largest mills operating near here. This optimal location provided access to the B&O Railroad, city utilities, and skilled workers.

The Virginia Woolen Company which was incorporated in 1900 produced premium quality woolen material including Ford Motor Company upholstery, military uniforms and blankets for World War II, and men's wear. Lewis Jones Knitting Mill (incorporated 1895), produced cotton goods, primarily ladies' underwear. In their heyday, the two mills employed over 700 local laborers.

Winchester's textile industries faltered in the 1950s when pitted against emerging synthetic fibers. Despite modernization attempts, Virginia Woolen closed in 1958 and Lewis Jones ceased textile operations
The Virginia Woolen Company and Lewis Jones Knitting Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 24, 2016
2. The Virginia Woolen Company and Lewis Jones Knitting Mill Marker
in 1963.

Although the Woolen Company buildings were demolished in 1999 for the Public Safety Center, the Lewis Jones Knitting Mill, repurposed in 2005 as an office building, stands as a reminder of Winchester's vibrant era of textile industry.

(captions)
Virginia Woolen Mill Master Mechanic Charles Edward ‘Ed’ Johnston. Courtesy of Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA

Workers pose around quilt rack in Lewis Jones Knitting Mill circa 1920. (Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Winchester, Va)

Aerial view of Virginia Woolen Company, Lewis Jones Knitting Mill and surrounding houses in 1992. The B&O Railroad (now CSX) diagonally bisects the two mill lots. Photo by Rudy Rogers, Courtesy of Tim Youmans
 
Location. 39° 11.122′ N, 78° 9.655′ W. Marker is in Winchester, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of East Piccadilly Street and North East Lane, on the right when traveling east on East Piccadilly Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Winchester VA 22601, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Jacob Baker Lot And Virginia City Addition (within shouting distance of this marker); The Early Education Of Black Students In Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Taylor F. Finley (within shouting distance of this marker); Major General Daniel Morgan (within shouting distance of this marker); Third Battle of Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Stone Presbyterian Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Original Land Grant (about 500 feet away); Mary Greenhow Lee (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Winchester.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 120 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on August 6, 2016.
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