The story of the H.W. Clark Biscuit company begins with its founder, H.W. Clark. In August 1876, H.W. Clark bought out the wholesale grocery firm of Col. John Leroy located on Ashland Street. Demand nationwide began to rise for more biscuits and cookies so that in 1900, H.W. Clark expanded his buisness presence in North Adams.
The first mill made to distribute H.W. Clark cookies was built on Lincoln St. in North Adams. The H.W. Biscuit Clark Co.’s second mill was built at 171 Ashland St in North Adams. The building consisted of three stories and was designed to produce large amounts of cookies.
The production method had workers start making the cookies at the top floor and then finish them on the bottom floor. The Ashland Street mill was quite beneficial to because of its location next to the railroad. The cookies were easier to transport from the Ashland building then from the Lincoln Street building. The Ashland Street building also gave H.W. Clark the ability to distribute his cookies throughout all of New England and New York.
In 1913, tragedy struck the H.W. Clark Biscuit Company. The Clark icing mill on Lincoln street burned down in a raging fire. The fire began to burn at 10:00pm on July 7th, 1913 and lasted for two hours. Due to the lack of water and firefighters the three-story building was competely destroyed by midnight. Instead of rebuilding the Lincoln Street cookie mill, H.W. Clark decided to build another building at the Ashland Street cookie mill. This became known as the icing building at the Ashland Street H.W. Clark Biscuit Co. cookie factory.
The company added its last additional building to the Ashland Street factory in 1921. This was the baking and shipping building. The profits for the company continued to rise throughout the 1920s. By 1927, the Clark Biscuit Co. was valued at $500,000 and employed around 200 employees to produce cookies crackers and cakes. This lasted until 1935 when H.W. Clark died. Upon his death, the business passed down to his son, H.B. Clark.
If H.W. Clark represented immense growth then H.B Clark represented the slow decline of the H.W. Clark Biscuit Company. H.B. Clark was a respected community leader but a mediocre businessman. He was unwilling to update business practices during the 1940s, failing to see the importance of selling to distributors instead of directly selling to grocery stores. He also would pay for customers who could not pay the price of the biscuit shipments.
After the H.W. Clark Biscuit Company was sold to Consolidated Textile Co., the Ashland Street factory stayed open until 1964. The Consolidated Textile co. sold the factory to Windsor Industries Inc., which closed the factory in 1964. The building was then converted to a storge warehouse. In the 2000s, the H.W. Clark Biscuit Co. buildings have been turned into an apartment complex. In honor of H.W. Clark, the apartment complex has been named the Clark Biscuit Apartments.