Does anyone remember the 2-alarm fire which occurred on March 31, 1971 totally involving this old mill? I sure do. I walked right by it on my way home from Drury High School. Here’s a little history of that building.
The first Eagle Mill was built in 1813 by Giles Tinker, W.B. Brayton, Benjamin Sibley, William Bradford and Henry Remmington. It was the second largest cotton mill in town of Adams. Unfortunately, when the War of 1812 broke out, cotton mills in this area lost money due to the lack of cotton.
The Eagle Mill closed its doors in 1816 and the building remained vacant until 1920 when Caleb B. Turner leased the building as a cotton mill. The mill was only sustainable for 3 more years. Once again it was left unoccupied.
The old cotton mill was started up again in 1838 when William E. Marshall purchased the mill. Business was improving when in 1845 disaster struck. A large fire, which began on Brooklyn Street, swept through to Eagle Street. As a result, the Eagle Mill went up in flames along with $3,000 in machinery and stock.
In 1859, A.W. Richardson and Samuel Gaylord built the second Eagle Mill. Then in 1863, W.W. Freeman, L.L. Brown and William S. Blackinton became partners with Mr. Richardson. New machines and furnishings were put in place allowing the mill to fulfill its early promise of a viable cotton mill.
After 10 years, the mill’s name was changed to the Freeman Manufacturing Company. By 1883 the company employed 600 people and was running 11 machines a day. Things hummed along until the mid-1890’s when business began to wane once again causing the mill to close down.
In 1912, former Mayor John H. Waterhouse and A.J. Buffum, who later was head of the Blackinton Company, leased the Eagle Mill and converted it into a woolen mill under the name of Waterhouse & Buffum. A year later the Blackinton Mill took over the running of the mill. In less than 6 months however, part to the machinery of the Waterhouse & Buffum company and moved it to the Blackinton Mill. The rest of the machinery was then sent to a mill in Rhode Island, thus closing the Eagle Mill as a working mill for the last time.
Over time the old mill became a warehouse for the Windsor Print Works, Wall Streeter Shoe Company and A. Shapiro and Sons.
On March 31, 1971, the vacant mill went up in flames as it was being prepared for demolition. The exact cause of the fire was not found.