Foxborough in Norfolk County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Union Straw Works / Birth of the Straw Hat Industry
Members of the Carpenter family became engaged in various straw manufacturing operations. In 1843 they built the Great Bonnet Shop at 18-22 Wall Street and in 1845 the Hamlet House at 12-16 Wall St. Erastus P. Carpenter then proposed that many small manufacturing operations in town should be combined into one large company that could dominate the industry. In 1853 the Union Straw Works was erected on this site. It became the world's largest straw manufacturing operation offering employment to more than 6,000 men and women, including factory workers and those employed in a vast cottage industry, sewing and braiding straw at home. Ownership later passed to Wm. T. Cook & Co. and the Bemis Hat Co. The complex was destroyed by fire May 28,1900 and never rebuilt.
The making of the first straw bonnet in America is traced to Betsey Metcalf of Providence, R.I. who in 1798 made herself a copy of an imported bonnet on display in a store window. while attending Day's Academy in Wrentham, Betsey shared her skills with her friends, including many from Foxborough. Mary Clark and Ann Leonard were the first in this town to learn braiding and in turn taught Eunice Everett, Sally Mann, Patty Carpenter and her cousin Polly. Eunice was the first person
Erected 2003 by Foxborough Historical Commission.
Location. 42° 3.811′ N, 71° 14.851′ W. Marker is in Foxborough, Massachusetts, in Norfolk County. Marker is on Wall St., on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Foxboro MA 02035, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Memorial Hall (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Centre Burial Ground (about 600 feet away); The Reservoir on Powder House Hill / The Town House (about 700 feet away); Entering Baker Street Historic District (approx. ¼ mile away); The Town Lot (approx. half a mile away); Lakeview (approx. 1.2 miles away); The Lodge at Foxborough (approx. 1.3 miles away); Foxborough State Hospital Cemetery (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Foxborough.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 1, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 617 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 1, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. 2. submitted on June 4, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. 3. submitted on June 1, 2012, by Bryan Simmons of Attleboro, Massachusetts. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.