Canton Historical Society
Canton, Massachusetts USA 02021
This is the text
The Canton Bicentennial
History Book. This is not
the Final Draft, there are
some spelling errors. Also
there are some punctuation
errors, nothing major.
1797 - 1997
For over one hundred and fifty years prior to the town's incorporation, many generations worked the land and gathered natural resources. Those early settlers established themselves in the areas that had easy access to the streams, the power source of the day. Mills sprang up that cut the trees into boards for houses, ground grain from the fields, and forged iron ore into usable products.
One of the first areas of development in what would be Canton was along the Ponkapoag Brook. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, a saw mill, grist mill and a blacksmith shop were the important undertakings. The Ponkapoag Brook could only support so much industry, and the industrial revolution was yet to provide the other sources of power needed to operate the wheels of industry.
In South Canton, the "Canton River" or "East Branch of the Neponset" was more suitable for development. Several gunpowder mills and grist mills had been established along its banks as early as 1703. Around 1760, the dam near what is today the center of town had a blacksmith shop and forge set up by Mr. Leonard Kinsley and by 1787, Mr. Adam Kinsley and Jonathan Leonard were producing farm implements, saw blades and tools for general use. As the business prospered and grew, a slitting mill, designed for cutting and rolling of iron was built in 1793. By 1797, they had produced one thousand tons of rolled iron and were producing steel for the first time.
Leonard and Kinsley secured government contracts to produce guns during the War of 1812, and the company continued to grow and prosper. Around 1821, Mr. Leonard established his own forge on the easterly side of the privilege. It is not clear why the partnership broke up, but it seems that Mr. Leonard had been convinced that Easton, Massachusetts was the site of large deposits of iron ore and lost most of his money looking for it. His forge remained in operation at this location until 1833 or 1835 when he moved from the area and died in New Orleans sometime later.
Adam Kinsley continued his business on the westerly side of the dam until his death on October 12, 1840. His sons, Lyman and Alfred, succeeded him, with Lyman purchasing his brother’s share in the company and the property of his father’s old partner. With control of both sides of the dam his company was quickly expanded. Kinsley Iron and Machine Company built a new forge and in 1852, a large rolling mill.
The development of the railroad and the extension of a spur to Stoughton provided both an easy means of transportation and a source of business. The principal products for the Kinsley Iron and Machine Company were wheels and axles for railroad cars, and rolled iron bars and rods. The large rail spur which extended off the Stoughton branch ran along what is today the end of Ames Avenue crossing Washington Street near the dam. It then proceeded into the rolling mill complex. The grade crossing had multiple tracks and was the site of numerous accidents and injuries. The crossing was the target of repeated complaints, discussions and newspaper editorials until the day it was removed many years later.
The company was chartered and stock sold in April of 1858. Lyman Kinsley was the first president of the new corporation and was followed by Oliver Ames of Easton, Massachusetts in 1859. After Oliver's death, his son Frederick L. Ames assumed the position, and in turn he was followed by his son Oliver.
The rolling mill and the forge were destroyed in a tremendous fire on January 14, 1875, but all were quickly rebuilt and production resumed. By the turn of the century, the mill employed 235 men and still produced axles and castings as well as round iron stock for washing machine ringers. The company remained in operation until 1906 when it was dissolved. The generations of Canton men who worked in the mill gave up their youth for the coin they earned. Conditions were dangerous and unhealthy and made young men old before their time.
The mill remained empty for three years until May 27, 1909 when a Stoughton rubber company purchased the bulk of the iron works and a large adjoining property. The last of the "Old Mill" disappeared when the building that housed the Neponset Reclaiming Company, at 620 Washington Street was destroyed by fire on December 15, 1916.
Today the only remnant of this industrial giant is the two story wooden building that houses Lasden Lighting and Electrical Supply Co. at 641 Washington St. Over the years, many different businesses occupied this property including A. Brightman and Sons and Walter Waring Co., both employed in the manufacture of "shoddy", an inferior woolen cloth made from used fibers. Walter Waring & Sons Co. moved to town from Methuen in September of 1923. In the 1930’s, the property was purchased by E. B. and C. V. Reynolds, and the main building was occupied by Pond View Manufacturing Co., a maker of children's clothing, Dawson Electric Co. and a gasoline station.
The building to the rear of 641 Washington was the site of the old foundry for Kinsley Iron and was used by the Byam and Reynolds Co. as a grain storehouse. The property was purchased from Matthew Galligan in 1915. The building was described as being 110 feet long and 52 feet wide and made of heavy timber construction and dated back to 1856. It burnt to the ground on October 4, 1923, along with all its contents. The loss was estimated to be about $14,500. The site remained vacant until 1947 when it was redeveloped for industrial use and the first companies to occupy the new building were Vincent Auto Body and Dawson Engineering Co., a manufacturer of high temperature, high velocity ovens used in industries around the country.
The section of the Iron Works property that is on the westerly side of Washington Street has a line of retail stores on either side of the still flowing river. One of the most notable occupants of these buildings (Sydeman Building - 1918) was a movie house which entertained Cantonites, young and old for many decades. The movie house is gone, the seats have been removed and the floor leveled. It has been replaced by offices and retail shops and is now called Riverside Park.
Along Revere Street and Revere Court, there are mainly residences. The exceptions are the offices of the two town newspapers The Canton Journal and The Canton Citizen. The Canton Citizen is housed in the old police station that was built in 1931 on the corner of Revere Street and Revere Court.
Before we discuss the rubber company which purchased this site, well look at some of the other manufacturing that was taking place in other parts of the town during the same time period.
The dam that powered the Iron Works created the Forge Pond, which has three streams feeding into it. On the southeastern shore is another dam which blocks the Steep Hill Brook that flows down from Stoughton. A grist mill at this location was owned by Jonathan Withington and purchased by General Elijah Crane around 1792. General Crane formed a partnership with Mr. David Wilde and established The Steep Brook Cotton and Woolen Factory. In 1812, the factory was the site of the first power-looms in town, making it one of the first factories in the state to produce good quality cotton cloth. This mill changed hands several times and in 1824, it was purchased by Jonathan Messinger, (father of Virgil Messinger) who named his mill Bolivar after the South American liberator. In 1840 the town applied the same name to the street. In 1841, the mill was destroyed by fire.
After sitting idle for a time, Lyman Kinsley purchased the property in 1845 and built a stone factory and by 1846-1847, shovels were being produced on the site. The dam was improved and several water wheels were installed. Each operated a trip hammer. These hammers were run by a three man crew that stamped out , on average, eight dozen shovels in an eight hour day. The crew was paid about twenty- five cents per dozen and had to pay for any spoiled stock. The water wheel system was redesigned in 1867 and more hammers were added. The wheels were replaced by one wheel of modern design which was able to run eight hammers at one time. The factory would eventually become known as the Ames Shovel Shop and would provide employment into the beginning of the twentieth century. Today this area is the site of the Canton Department of Public Works and the stone factory building is still in use.
The pond that is formed by the dam on what is today Bolivar Street has been known as Ames Pond and Bolivar Pond. The pond was and still is a haven during the heat of the summer. Along the shores had risen a very popular boat club which entertained veterans from the Civil War to troops of both World Wars. Today, an in-ground swimming pool has replaced the floating docks that were enjoyed by so many Cantonites. The pool was required because pollutants leached out of the town dump on Pine Street and flowed into the water making it unsafe to swim.
One of the streams, Beaver Brook, that feeds into the Bolivar Pond flows down from the area of town known as Springdale. This area had two separate privileges, one on each side of what is today Pine Street.
The property on the westerly side of Pine Street was known as the middle privilege and had only a saw mill owned by Mr. Ezra Dickerman operating on it in 1794. Then, around 1804, cloth was being worked at this site by Enoch Dickerman, older bother of Ezra. By 1824 Samuel Chandler had leased the mill and was manufacturing satinet, a cotton cloth made of cotton wrapped around wool. The cloth had a satin type appearance and was used primarily in trousers. Mr. Chandler was succeeded by Abijah Carter and Spencer Everton, who continued in the manufacture of cloth until the mill burned down on November 30, 1835.
In addition to the satinet factory at this privilege, a forge was opened in 1823 by Charles Leonard, son of Jonathan Leonard. The forge burnt down on November 29, 1825. This part of the privilege was purchased at a sheriff’s sale in 1828 by Mr. George Downes, who also received half ownership of the water in the stream. Around 1833, John and Alexander Kennedy manufactured carpets at this site until that factory burnt down on December 10, 1836.
Sometime after this fire or during the same period a German gentleman became the first to produce boxes in Canton. According to Mr. Francis Dunbar that business was purchased by George Dickerman around 1854 and moved to Boston.
Mr. Downes sold the property to Mr. Franklin Reed in 1848. Mr. Reed established the Reed Cutlery Works and manufactured cutlery and small hardware. Around this time there was a manufacturer of paper boxes at this site. Mr. Reed continued until 1875, when he mortgaged the property to John T. Seaman, who continued in the same business. In 1880 the property was assigned to Mr. Reed again. After Mr. Reed’s death, his family sold the property to Lexington Print Works in 1894.
On December 24, 1894, a very large fire destroyed a storehouse belonging to the Lexington Print Works. This building had been a tenement house of the old knife works that had been converted to use for storage and block printing. This fire has the distinction of being the first time the new fire alarm system in the town sounded a second alarm.
In September of 1903, the property was taken over by the Springdale Finishing Company which processed untreated canvas. The cloth had to be washed, bleached, and dried and then dyed Khaki, meaning dust colored. This process could occur several times depending on the specifications of the order. It was compared to developing a photograph because of the number of solutions it had to pass through.
One of their most unusual orders was for the working sails of the yacht Shamrock, owned by Sir Thomas Lipton, of Lipton Tea fame. His team made five unsuccessful attempts at the America’s Cup between 1899 and 1930. Springdale Finishing was on the cutting edge in the production of this type of material and gained many government contracts during both World Wars. They used German prisoners of war during World War II when local labor was in short supply. After the war, business slowed and the company closed its doors.
In 1953, the property was taken over by Groveton Stationery Company and Mainco Trading Company, an affiliate company. Based in Groveton, New Hampshire, they were a division of the famous Vanity Fair Paper Mills. They produced writing papers and books for schools and for retail sales in supermarkets. With displays in supermarkets around the country, they sold their products under the brand names of Vanity Fair and Blue Ribbon. The Mainco Trading Company provided paper products to schools throughout New England and New York. Besides writing paper, toilet tissues, napkins and towels they also supplied pencils, crayons, pens, visual aids and other school supplies.
All the tenement houses and mill buildings of this once bustling industrial center were replaced by apartment buildings and condominiums in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s by John Marini. The road that led to the plant from Pine Street has been extended to Bolivar Street and is lined with housing. All the remnants of the past are gone.
The property on the easterly side of Pine Street, was the upper privilege. It had been used by the Dickermans as a fulling-mill. This mill was used to clean, shrink and thicken cloth. After the Kennedy mill burned in 1836, they moved into a new building at this location.
In 1869, after the failure of his operation at Canton Corner, Mr. Charles Draper took over the mill and manufactured woolen products until that mill was consumed by fire. Mr. Draper also had a mill on Sherman Street and, after the fire, the entire operation was moved to Worcester.
The area east of Pine Street was taken over for use as a pumping station for the town’s water system in 1888 and has served that purpose since. The tenement houses of the workers that made up Meyer Terrace have been replaced with modern condominiums called Creekside.
Before investigating the next stream that feeds into the Forge Pond, we’ll visit the eastern shore, where another area of industrial growth occurred.
In 1899, an electric power plant was constructed between the shore of Forge pond and the railroad tracks to Stoughton. The plant was constructed to supply power to the Blue Hill Street Railway Company, which had been charted that year and was connected to other area rail systems to form a modern system of transportation. Mr. Frank Webster of Stone & Webster fame, Canton resident, designed the system to provide the best of service for his fellow towns people. The railway had a dramatic impact on Canton and supplied employment and much controversy in its short life span. The railway was in operation before the power plant was completed, and power for a time was supplied by a generator installed at the Revere Copper Company. In May of 1900, the station was completed and power generated.
The railway operated in the red for almost all of its life, and after several fires that destroyed its rolling stock and the storage sheds, it was dealt its final blow during the winter of 1920. During a major snowstorm three cars were disabled, and the steam cylinder at the power plant cracked. Continuing heavy snowfalls clogged the tracks and a shortage of coal left all the cars stranded, which killed the company. By April of that year the stock was sold for scrap and the railway was gone forever, replaced by a bus line and the personal automobile.
In November of 1925 the power plant was leased by Addison-Leslie Company, manufactures of Plastic Wood. Their formula included several flammable ingredients that harden like wood when mixed together and exposed to the air. On March 15, 1930, a spectacular fire occurred in some of the outside storage buildings. The explosions awakened the firemen at the central station on the opposite shore of the pond. The fire ball could be clearly seen from the fire station. Some of the firemen and spectators compared it to their experiences on the battlefields
during the recent World War. The main building was only slightly damaged but the outbuildings were totally destroyed, along with their contents, 20 tons of celluloid and 30 barrels of alcohol.
In 1935, Addison - Leslie moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and shortly thereafter the building was purchased and occupied by an industry that is remembered to this day.
Furman - Meyers, Inc. began operation of a poultry dressing and packing plant in April of 1935. It was reported to be the only plant of its kind in New England. The firm handled about 4000 chickens per day and sold them locally. The once state of the art power station lost all its past identity; from this day forward it would be known as The Chicken Factory.
In the years that followed the building was occupied by Burry’s Biscuits Co. manufacturers and distributors of baked goods, most notably cookies, and Picker X-Ray Co., distributors of solutions for x-ray equipment.
Today, the building is divided into three separate areas. Occupying the top floor, front is Applied Polymeric Materials Inc. Operating in Canton since 1994 it is owned by Mr. Nick Kotsalidis, a Canton resident, and his brother. They have developed water based adhesives and coatings that are tailored to the needs of specific industrial clients.
On the first floor, rear of the building is Technical Coatings Inc. which has been distributing building materials from this location since 1984.
Over the years the residential buildings along the driveway to the Chicken Factory have been replaced by other manufacturing concerns.
218 Bolivar St. is occupied by A. A. Manufacturing manufacturers of plastic sheeting, primarily heavy gauge material that is use as a lining for landfills.
222 Bolivar St. is occupied by MagCap Engineering, Inc. owned and operated by Canton resident, John C. Lagadinos. This company has been designing and manufacturing components and systems for the power electronics and radar communications industries. They have tripled in size since they opened in 1972.
Just behind what is today a strip mall anchored by the Walgreen Drug Store is another stream that feeds into the Forge Pond.
"Massapoag Brook" flows down from Sharon and today has three ponds in its length from the Canton/Sharon town line to the Forge Pond. During the height of the textile industry in Canton, it was dammed in several additional places and had silk mills lining its banks.
As this stream flows out of Sharon, the first dam and mill pond is Mansfield Pond, which was formed in 1821 when Simeon Presbrey began the manufacture of twine and thread. Mr. Presbrey sold his business to Thomas Baker Vose, who in turn sold it to William Mansfield in 1849.
Mr. William Mansfield manufactured cotton twine and threads that were made into cotton blankets widely used during the Civil War. Shortly after the end of the war, the company was turned over to his son George, who began the manufacture of fishing lines.
George H. Mansfield and Company began producing some of the finest braided silk fishing line in the country as early as March of 1866. They used twisted silk that was braided into lines of various weights. These lines were dyed various colors and then coated to make waterproof. The process took up to six months for the line to reach it’s proper condition. The company made other lines that did not take as long to produce but did not have the waterproof quality. The Mansfield company expanded several times over the years and occupied may of the other mill buildings in the town. After they moved to a building in the Rising Sun complex on Pequit Street, their original factory stood empty and was finally demolished in June of 1952. It was replaced by a concrete block building which was occupied by Plyco Concrete Forms Company and is today home of Tibbetts Electric.
The next obstruction to the free flow of the water occurs at the dam at what is today Washington Street and forms Shepard’s Pond. The earliest known use of this privilege was for an iron forge and grist mill owned by Nathaniel Leonard. A mile marker carved by him in 1739 still stands near the water fall. The most notable owner of a mill here was General Richard Gridley, father of the Army Corps of Engineers. Gridley manufactured farm implements and ground grain until his death in 1796. His buildings were torn down in 1809. Over the years, other forges were erected and operated by Deacon Thomas Dunbar, James Bent, James Dunbar, and Adam Kinsley Jr. A new building was constructed on the west side of the street and occupied by the Canton Hardware Company from 1835 to 1838.
On the opposite side of the road, another building was constructed and used to manufacture iron candlesticks. This complex suffered destruction by fire in 1833 and was rebuilt in 1834 by Jedediah and Asahel Southworth, who manufactured cotton thread. The firm of Southworth and White occupied one floor of the building while James Stratton Shepard occupied the other. Both companies were engaged in the manufacture of cotton wicks and twine. When Asahel Southworth passed away on August 12, 1849, Mr. James S. Shepard purchased the business from Jedediah Southworth and greatly increased the size of his operation. Mr. Shepard’s company grew steadily and began producing fishing nets. It is reported that his company was the first to manufacture machine-made fishing nets in the country. Even the corks along the edge of the nets were made at the mill so that the nets were shipped as finished products.
American Net and Twine Company was one of Mr. Shepard’s largest customers. Eventually he became a partner in the firm and the principal stockholder. Together with his family, they controlled the corporation.
The net manufacturing part of the company was moved to Cambridge, leaving Canton as the twine production division. In July of 1896 American Net and Twine Co. moved the twine operation to Anniston, Alabama, the center of the southern cotton belt. Some of the factors for the move were the proximity to the cotton fields, coal was about one third the cost, and land was very cheap. The labor force was plentiful and would gladly fill the shoes of a dollar a day man for about fifty cents.
After American Net and Twine moved, the mill stood vacant until Eureka Silk moved the bulk of its Canton operation into the mill in December of 1903.
The complex is described as being two separate buildings. One, a four-story structure that had two water turbines; one engine and two boilers, provided the power to operate the machines. An automatic water sprinkler system was installed, and they generated their own acetylene gas for lighting. The second building was two story structure of fire-proof construction measuring 100 X 35, and was used to store the spools.
Eureka stayed only three years, and in December of 1906, Electric Goods Manufacturing Company of Boston, purchased the buildings and by May of 1907, had moved in.
The Electric Goods Company manufactured home telephones, speaking tubes for apartment houses, fire alarms systems, and liquid batteries. Their predominant product was the electric gas lamp lighter, a product they first manufactured in 1883 when they organized as the Electric Gas Lighting Company.
In 1916, the company was organized as the Samson Electric Company, and continued to manufacture their regular line of products. Around this time they added a quite modern invention, the wireless receiver. The main components of the receiver were two wire coils which were wrapped with fine copper wire. Five hundred strands of this wire were required to make an inch of thickness and one coil had enough wire to stretch from the factory to the town hall.
The company employed many local girls in the assembly area. The starting pay was twelve to fourteen dollars per week. They would go through several weeks training before actually beginning to work. After two months of on the job training, they were thought to be competent.
By November of 1935, the building was then leased by A. E. Partlow Company of Hyde Park. This firm was involved in the reclaiming of wool and employed 15 people. Over the years, the buildings had many other occupants including, during the 1950’s, John Franks Co., Atlantic Textiles Co. and John Dahl & Company. All were involved in textiles in one form or another. At one time, the building housed a fabric mill store which was popular but the property never regained its past glory as an industrial production center.
The main building was destroyed by fire in September of 1971 and shortly after the building was demolished.
Today, a small park occupies the western side of the road at the base of the dam where Gridley had his mill. Directly across the street are several single family residences and some of the foundation of the once great mill.
Although Canton Hardware Co. was short lived, the area maintained the name of the Hardware, and the pond took on the name Shepard’s Pond which it still bears today.
Behind this property, on Shepard Street, additional companies were located over the years. They included the Puritan Gas Tank Company which was auctioned off in February of 1910 to Compressed Gas Tank Company, whose parent company was Veeder Manufacturing Company of Hartford, CT. They manufactured odometers, speedometers, and other automobile parts and planned to continue to manufacture gas tanks for automobiles at this site. In June of 1914, this building was occupied by Searchlight Gas Company and was totally destroyed by several explosions that lifted the roof right off the building. This building may have been originally part of the American Twine complex .
As the Massapoag Brook continues to the Forge Pond, it reaches the next dam at Shepard Street. The pond formed by this dam is known by several names, including The Silk Mill Pond, Messinger Pond or Third Pond. The original dam was built by Lieutenant Colonel Luke Shepard and his brother Joel Shepard. At the time the town was incorporated, they were operating a wheelwright business here.
It was at this location around 1834 that Mr. William S. Otis built his first steam excavator. Mr. Otis was engaged in the construction of a portion of the railroad that was being built between Boston and Providence. While living in Canton, Mr. Otis married Miss Elizabeth Everett, daughter of Leonard Everett.
The first of these excavators was used to help build the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in Maryland. The second was used on the Boston and Worcester railroad from 1837 to 1839. At age twenty six, Mr. Otis died in Westfield, Massachusetts, November 13, 1839.
Mr. Otis’s work with the steam excavator was carried on by his cousin, Mr. Oliver Smith Chapman. Mr. Chapman married Mrs. Otis, obtained the patent on the steam excavator and repurchased interests that had been sold by Mr. Otis. After improving the patent, these machines were manufactured by John Scuther & Sons of South Boston. Later, they were built by Eastwick and Harrison in Philadelphia and two were sold to the Russian government to help build the St. Petersburg to Moscow Railroad.
Today, Canton still has a tie to this type equipment. The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 4" has its apprenticeship and training center at 1 Engineers Way which is located at the intersection of Will Drive and North Street. They have been training men and women how to operate all types of heavy equipment at this location since 1982. Some of the equipment is a distant relative to Mr. Otis’s machine.
The Shepard Street dam was also the site of the first silk mill, started by Mr. Virgil Messinger around 1841, but shortly after starting it, he moved to Needham. The site remained active in the silk business and in 1847 it became known as Tilson and Messinger. In 1865, it was taken over by Proctor and Crandon, stocking manufacturers, and late in the nineteenth century it became part of Seavey, Foster & Bowman, and later part of Eureka Silk Co.
Known as Mill Number 1, production in this building stopped in October of 1903 when the company consolidated its operation in Shepard’s mill. In January of 1904, while the building was vacant and used for storage, it suffered a fire causing damages to the structure and contents. Finally, in May of 1906 the structure was sold to Danovitch and Sons of High Street with the understanding that it was be torn down. The building was dismantled and the lumber carried off to a lot adjacent to their property on High Street. No information can be found of another industry occupying this site and today only open space and single family houses exist.
The dam that impedes the flow of the Massapoag today was constructed in 1956 after a disastrous flood in August of 1955. The flood washed away the old dam and caused millions of dollars of damage to the property down stream. This resulted in the construction of the new dam and sluice around the Plymouth Rubber Company that parallels Neponset Street. The work was done by private contractors under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers, and has served very well over the years. The picture of the theater in the center of town surrounded by fast flowing water with the marquee announcing "The Eternal Sea" is one that isn’t quickly forgotten.
Near Walnut Street, another mill was constructed in 1846. Mr. William Mansfield and Jedediah Morse erected a building that was used for the construction of the steam powered printing presses designed by Stephen P. Ruggles. This building was consumed by fire in June of 1870, while it was occupied by the firm of Draper and Sumner, who then moved their operation to Canton Corner. The property was purchased by Mr. F. A. Sterry who constructed a new mill. It was later converted into a silk mill by Seavey, Foster & Bowman and became part of Eureka Silk Co.
After Eureka Silk closed its doors, the mill was owned by William Harris of Stoughton, who sold it to H. Delmont Rowell of Boston in December of 1911. Mr. Rowell established a business of manufacturing canoes. How long his company stayed at this location is not known.
The mill was occupied by Canton Manufacturing Company until April 29, 1914, when it was gutted by fire that destroyed all the machinery and stock. This firm manufactured khaki and corduroy and was operating a prosperous business at the time of the fire. Whether this company shared the building with the canoe company we do not know.
In the summer of 1923, the firm of Esten Johnson Company spent several months overhauling the building and installing new rewinding and spinning machines. By the end of September, they began producing infant’s underwear.
This building housed many different types of businesses over the years and was underutilized. Heavily damaged by a fire of suspicious origin on October 27, 1982, it was ripped down in 1983. The lot stood vacant for some time, and today a single family residence lies along the stream.
Between Walnut Street and Rockland Street, another dam was constructed and a silk mill was built in 1844 by Mr. Virgil Messinger and his brother Vernon. Messinger Brothers continued on until 1863 when they sold the building and equipment to Charles Foster and J. W. C. Seavey, two employees of the firm. The company was known as J. W. C. Seavey and Company and would later become Seavey, Foster & Bowman (1869). In 1881, a joint stock company was formed and named The Eureka Silk Manufacturing Company.
The Eureka Silk Co. produced some of the finest silk in the country. Importing the raw cocoons from China and Japan, they processed them into thread, dyed it and twisted it into a highly polished finished product. After the company went through a downturn in business in 1900, they consolidated into one location. In December of 1903, the company moved its headquarters into the old American Net and Twine complex.
One of the small supporting industries that derived a great deal of its business from the silk trade was A Dunbar’s Paper Box Company which was located south of American Net & Twine on the west side of Washington St. The business was started by Messrs. Stratton and White in 1865 or 1866 in a factory owned by Nathaniel Dunbar. In 1867, Mr. Dunbar formed a partnership with a Mr. Hard and they bought out Messrs. Stratton and White in 1867. The firm of Hard and Dunbar existed only one year when it was dissolved. Mr. Dunbar continued in the business until his death in 1883, when the business was assumed by his son, Francis.
They manufactured fine paper boxes of all description, utilizing several different foundation and covering them with various grades of paper, cloth, leather and celluloid. Many of the papers were imported from Europe and were embossed or had a very attractive glaze.
The main customers of the company were Eureka Silk, J. H. Hatfield and Ticknor and Company. The factory was considered small when compared to the other mills around the town, but when the output was considered it was a match for its contemporaries.
After Eureka Silk moved from its buildings around Rockland Street, some of them were occupied by other Canton Companies that were looking to expand. One of these companies was the Victor Miller Co.. Mr. Miller came to Canton around the turn of the century operating a department store that specialized in Furniture and Gents Clothing. In 1909, Mr. Miller saw a need that he thought that he could fill; gloves that would be suitable for railroad men, drivers and others who had to do dirty work. He began his new venture slowly in a small room adjoining his store. The gloves were made of government 8 ounce khaki cloth, and were, pliable and washable, yet, very tough and could withstand heat and were almost waterproof. As the gloves became popular, his glove business began to eclipse his business in the department store. He first moved the glove operation into the old Canton Journal building on Washington Street.
Around 1912, Mr. Miller moved again, this time into the old Second Silk Mill and expanded his product by adding leather to the material he used. The company assumed the name Canton Glove Company. The glove business occupied much of his time, so in 1918 he sold off his furniture and clothing business. The furniture business was sold to The Union Furniture Co. of Brockton and the clothing business was sold to a long time employee, William F. Whitty.
The building occupied by Canton Glove had been idle for many years until Mr. Miller purchased it for his business. He in turn sold it to Mr. Samuel Greenberg, who operated an inner sole company and counter trade on the first floor. Norfolk Shoe Co. occupied the second floor, and Canton Glove the third. The building was sold to A. J. Mitchell of Boston as an investment in 1920.
Today several of the original buildings from the silk business are still in use. A three story wood frame building occupied as apartments was at one time a boarding house for the silk factory workmen and was know as Blanc House. The two story brick building along the stream was also part of the silk factory. This building was occupied by George H. Mansfield & Co. and it was here that they produced their Rain Beau Fishing Line. The old mill pond that has long since been filled in was a good testing ground for this highly prized fishing line. Ivy Packet Co. used the building for a time. They packaged salt, pepper, sugar and other goods for use in restaurants around the region.
Today, Padco Counter Top Co. a manufacturer of counter tops and woodworkers, since 1980, occupies the top floor. The lower level is occupied by several other companies including A. P. Crossen Co., manufacturer of pizza dough. Across the stream is a single family house that has one section that is made out of brick, and if you look closely you’ll see the same hand in the design as can be seen in the factory building leading one to believe it had once been part of the great silk business that is long gone.
While we’re in this part of town we should touch on one other small company that left a footprint on the industrial path of Canton. The Wauk-Ezy Manufacturing Company was started in the second floor of a building owned by Amos Holmes on the corner of Neponset and Washington Streets.
Started by Mr. Webster of Stone and Webster fame, in conjunction with Doctor O. P. Wolfe, they took Mr. Webster’s idea for a high grade moccasin, made the first pair in his barn, and then went on to bigger and better facilities. They made models for men, women, and children but found that they were most popular with young women in the area colleges.
The area that today is the center of the town has gone through many changes over the years, but still serves the same basic purpose the free trade of goods and services. Today’s traffic leaves one wishing for the days when people walked by the side of an unpaved dirt road, had time to speak with the people they met and knew most of them.
At the point were the stream meets the Forge Pond is the area that had been the site of the Central Fire Station and the Crane School. The school was torn down in 1955. The steps that led up to the school from Washington Street are still there and serve as access to the parking lot that is there today. In the past, this open area hosted many carnivals and amusement rides which drew large crowds and provided enjoyment for all. The land was sold for $100,000 with the stipulation that the land would be used for a supermarket and that sufficient land be left for the use of the fire station until a new station could be built else where. This was voted at the March 1967 Town Meeting and development of the site started in October of 1968
As the river flow over the dam past the site of the once bustling plants of the Kinsley Iron Works it comes to the location of The Revere Copper Company.
Paul Revere, patriot and silversmith, was already producing bells at his foundry in North Boston, when he was approached by the Charlestown Navy Yard to produce replacement bolts for iron bolts in the U. S. F. Constitution. The only other suppliers were the British, and it was clear that the new Navy was in need of copper sheeting and other items not available in this country.
During the American Revolution, Mr. Revere had been instrumental in supplying gunpowder to the Continental Army and had used a mill along the East branch of the Neponset River in what was then Stoughton. In 1801, a privilege near the site of the old powder mill was not in use, so he purchased the land and buildings from the Kinsley Iron Company.
The complex was repaired, and heavy rollers were imported from England and America’s first copper rolling mill was complete. Canton then became the cradle of the copper industry in the United States.
One of the first contracts for the new rolling mill was the production of copper plates for the hull of the U. S. F. Constitution. This success was quickly followed by contracts from private enterprises, including copper plate contracts for the hulls of Robert Fulton’s ships including the Fulton, the first steam powered warship.
In 1804, Joseph Warren Revere, son of Paul, received a one third interest in the business with an estimated value of $16,200. Joseph went to Europe and was engaged in the copper manufacturing business, so that when he returned in 1805 he brought with him the latest technology in the industry.
Paul Revere & Sons produced all types of hardware for the Navy and during the War of 1812, produced three tons of copper products per week.
Paul Revere died on May 10, 1818, leaving Joseph owner of the birthplace of the American copper industry. In 1828, Joseph combined the firm with James Davis & Sons of Boston. James Davis and his son James Jr. owned a foundry that made brass castings for the same ships for which Revere was making copper hulls. Joseph Revere became President of the firm and James Davis Sr. became Treasurer. James Davis Jr. was the agent for the company in Boston and Samuel Walker Lincoln, nephew of Joseph Revere was made agent in Canton.
After the merger, a refining operation was opened at Point Shirley, five miles from Boston. The site was on the water and had large landing areas for handling shipments of ore imported from Chile. Once it was processed it was sent to Canton for firing.
Their operation survived several downturns in the economy and helped manufacture one twelve-pound, Napoleon style cannon per day and 50 naval Howitzers during the American Civil War. Today if you visit almost any one of the civil war battlefields you’ll find a brass cannon made in Canton, Mass.
Frederick Walker Lincoln, son of Samuel, became president of the company after Joseph Revere died in 1867. Lincoln died in 1869 and was followed by James Davis Jr., who in turn was followed by S. T. Snow. In 1881, John Revere, grandson of Paul, assumed the post of president. Two of John Revere’s sons, William Bacon and Edward H. R. served as agents for the Company during his presidency.
After John died, Henry Winsor became president and served in that post until 1900, when the firm merged with the Taunton Copper Manufacturing Company and the New Bedford Copper Company, both long time competitors. The firm then took the new name of Taunton-New Bedford Copper Company. Work came to a halt at the Canton plant and on April 23, 1902 the board of directors voted to dissolve the Corporation.
The site sat vacant until A The Plymouth Rubber Company of Stoughton purchased it and the adjoining Iron Works on May 27, 1909 for a total of $23,000. Five other pieces of the property were sold including the axle shop to Matthew Galligan, the foundry to Edward Sheehan, a stable to Joseph Hall, a cottage and the Massapoag House barn to C. P. Grimes, with the Massapoag House going to Matthew Galligan.
The Plymouth Rubber Company was incorporated in 1898 and had as president and financial officer, Mr. A. Sydeman, who was considered a remarkable businessman whose business foresight and shrewdness won him success. Full production began in 1911. One of the most popular products was the Slipknot Rubber Heel which was introduced in 1913. Besides rubber heels and soles, it made rubber coated fabrics for raincoats, automobiles, and hospital sheets. Other products it manufactured were imitation leather which was used by the automobile industry, book binders and fancy box makers.
The original Plymouth Rubber Company went bankrupt in 1920 and a new corporation was formed in 1922. The new Plymouth Rubber Company manufactured many of the same products as before but expanded into rubber and friction tapes and later rubber bands. It would become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of rubber bands. The operation grew steadily during the 1930’s and 1940’s.
During this same time the plant suffered a major fire and in order to continue its operation with minimal interruption it purchased the Rockland Rubber Co. which made the company the worlds largest manufacture of rubberized fabrics. During World War II it earned the Army-Navy AE Award for the excellence of its war efforts.
After the war it began manufacturing vinyl garden hose and over the next 20 years expanded the use of vinyl resins. This included the production of unsupported and fabric supported vinyl films. These products are used in baby pants, shower curtains, upholstery, bookbinding, luggage and many other things. The plant expanded several times during the late 1950s and into the 1970’s.
During the 1980’s the company restructured its manufacturing operation by eliminating the manufacture of some of its products including Soling, Rubber Bands, Rubber Coated Fabrics, Roofing Products and various other items. They concentrated on becoming a world class manufacturer of rubber and vinyl tapes and today is the global supplier to Delphi Packard Electric (General Motors) for PVC tape and has received the GM Mark of Excellence and QSP (Quality/Service/Price) awards for performance.
Today the company produces many different types of tapes and has approximately 400 employees. It is planning more expansion to meet the needs of the expanding global market and should be a factor in Cantons’ industrial health in the future.
Down river, just past the Copper Company is another privilege that had the cotton mill of Mr. James Beaumont along its eastern bank as early as 1802. Here, Mr. Beaumont and his partners, Able Fisher and Lemuel Bailey formed James Beaumont and Company and spun cotton into candle wicks and fibers for cloth. In 1808, Mr. Beaumont went into a partnership with Mr. Richard Wheatly who took over the business completely by 1809. Mr. Wheatly remained in business until 1814, when the building was consumed by fire. Beaumont built another factory across the stream from their old location. This operation used hand power instead of the stream. They manufactured satinet and pelisse wadding. They obtained bags of cotton weighing 200 to 300 pounds each. They divided these into smaller lots which were hand cleaned. Placed on various frames it was made into yarn that was wound by children onto bobbins. After several further steps it would be in the form of a finished yarn worth about sixty to seventy-five cents per pound.
Only a blacksmith shop used the water at the privilege before 1824. In that year Durius B. Holbrook, Charles P. Dexter and William Hill contracted with Joseph W. Revere for use of the privilege. They constructed a large stone factory along what is today Walpole Street, on the western shore of the river. The business was known as the Boston Manufacturing Company and the area became known as the Stone Factory District. They constructed comfortable boarding houses for their employees and arranged for schooling for their children. The business prospered, property values went up and the monthly payroll grew. The town opened a road across the Fowl Meadows as a direct road to Boston in an effort to support this important employer. In spite of all the support, the venture failed in 1827.
The next business to setup in the stone factory was the Neponset Woolen Company. Under the control of Harrison Gray Otis, it too failed in 1829. In 1834-1835 the railroad came through and the stone viaduct was constructed. During this time a third company failed and by 1837 the site was abandoned.
The Neponset Cotton Factory was formed by Andrew Roberson in 1843 and many improvements were made to the factory and waterway. The woolen machinery was removed and cotton machines installed and an attempt was made to increase the power generated by the waterfall. This business also suffered and Mr. Joseph W. Wattles, who was employed as an overseer, became owner. In 1877, Joseph Wattles, O. S. Chapman and Charles H. French formed Neponset Mills, which lasted until 1879 when the business was abandoned.
This site, along with the surrounding tenements and farm land were purchased from the Revere Copper Company by James L. Little Jr. during the summer of 1883. His company became known as Canton Manufacturing and Bleaching Co. and it continued until the death of Mr. Little. The Trustees of his will sold the entire property at auction on February 25, 1901.
Mr. Joseph Brooks purchased the Stone Factory and in October of 1902 established Neponset Woolen Mills. Both wool and cotton were processed into bolts of fine cloth, primary for carriages and caskets. In 1911 the property was purchased by long time Canton resident, Mr. John T. Wright. He continued the operation of the mill until his death on June 17, 1920 at which time the day to day operation was assumed by Mr. John E. Sharman, who purchased the business in June of 1921. The line of cloths was expanded to include ladies suits and cloaks, as well as men’s and boys caps. The mill went from forty-six looms to ninety-six looms and was only restricted in their output by the lack of skilled weavers. In 1921 they were producing 13,000 yards of 72 inch cloth daily. Their production was tremendous but still second to Canton’s largest textile company, Draper Brothers.
From the time that the stone factory was built, one of the outstanding features was the central bell tower, with its rounded dome shape roof. It stood high above Walpole Street and could be seen from miles around. In particular it was a landmark to those who passed over the viaduct on the trains. Around the turn of the century it had been rebuilt, no doubt when Mr. Brooks purchased the building. Weather, however, took its toll and the landmark was deemed unsafe and was removed in July of 1930. If you look closely today you can still see the stone work of the tower and the flat roof that was installed when this landmark was removed.
In 1959, The Neponset Woolen Mills building was taken over by Emerson and Cuming Inc. who already had occupied part of the old Rising Sun complex on Washington Street since 1952. They manufacture plastics and adhesives for the electronics industry. They boast of customers around the world in many different lines of manufacture. The road that the town constructed extended across the Fowl Meadow and is today the very busy thoroughfare leading to Route 95 and Norwood. At one time the road was known as the Willow Road because of the willow trees that lined its sides. These trees were so thick that there were constant complaints that a carriage couldn’t pass without the driver being hit in the face by the branches. Today, you would be hard pressed to find one willow tree along its length.
Today on the eastern side of the waterfall is pair of, two story, wood frame, brick faced office buildings that houses doctors, a travel agent, and a pizza shop. A car dealership and a coffee shop have replaced Vincent Auto Body and a car wash. A little further north is two story structure with a popular restaurant and carpet store on the first floor and offices on the second. In the past the same area had the Canton Safety Lighter Company, which was located at the corner of Jackson and Neponset Streets during the end of 1920. They manufactured an old fashioned fire lighter that was designed to burn longer and with a more intense flame. This saved the purchaser from using charcoal, which was in short supply, or kerosene and paper. They made two forms, one in the shape of pressed cakes, the other in larger bags designed to light seven fires. The cost was twenty five cents per bag, much cheaper than charcoal.
On the opposite side of the road the one time factory hand housing has been replaced with apartments and condominiums.
As the industrial revolution progressed and more and more machines were developed that ran on steam or electric power, the factories moved away from the waterways.
In April 1851, Thomas Draper and his brother James began manufacturing knit goods in the Canton Corner area. They purchased the old Withington house at the corner of Pleasant Street and Washington Street. Machinery was placed in the building to the rear of the main house and the manufacture of fancy knit goods and boot linings began. The machines in this factory were hand powered and the first of their type in Canton.
Thomas Draper died on May 29, 1856 and his son Charles took his place. Charles Draper entered into a partnership with Charles H. French and a second mill was opened in West Stoughton. The firm of French and Draper remained in business until 1860 when the partnership dissolved and the machinery was divided. Mr. French maintained the mill in West Stoughton and took on as a partner Henry Ward, former foreman for French and Draper. The firm of French and Ward became one of the largest manufacturers in the town of Stoughton.
Charles Draper remained at the Canton Corner location until 1863. In 1864, a new partnership was struck with Matthew Townsend and the firm of Draper and Townsend was formed. A new location at the corner of Washington and Dedham Streets was chosen for the factory. The new partnership was made into a corporation called Canton Woolen Mills. This venture failed and was sold at auction in 1869.
In the summer of 1855, James Draper who had been working with his brother Thomas for four years became disheartened and wanted to return to native England. His family convinced him to stay and at the time of his brother’s death he began a new business using a knitting machine that he had constructed for himself. He rented space in the old store part of the Everett house and added more machinery. This is the site on which now stands the Canton Historical Society building. James was nearly ruined by the panic of 1857 but he did not give up and by 1861 he had taken over the entire Everett building. At this time he took on George F. Sumner as a partner and the firm was called Draper and Sumner. In 1865, they purchased the Morse Machine Works in South Canton and in 1869 bought the failed Canton Woolen Mills, which had been operated by his nephew Charles. At that time there were three factories in operation by Draper and Sumner: the Everett Mill, The Canton Woolen Mills and the Morse Mill. In 1870, the Morse Mill was destroyed by fire. The operation was consolidated after the fire to the large area occupied by The Canton Woolen Mills.
After James Draper died on May 23, 1873, his sons took over the business. They dissolved the partnership with George Sumner and in 1875 renamed the business Draper Brothers. In 1889 the business was incorporated under the name of Draper Brothers Company .
Up until this time, the products made by Draper Brothers Company were knitted fabrics used for gloves, garments, and the linings of rubber footwear. In 1896 the company added a weaving department and began the manufacture of an entirely new line of products called paper makers’ felts. These felts were woven in endless belts used in the paper manufacturing process. The company prospered with this new product and through many technological innovations which were copied worldwide. In 1986, this part of the business was sold to Tamfelt, a company in Finland which coincidentally began in the textile business in 1797, the same year that Canton was incorporated. It still operates the felt business here at the Draper site.
Draper Brothers Company still makes knitted fabrics of various types such as the covering on paint rollers, linings for gloves and slippers, and material for outdoor sportswear. The knitting machines have come a long way from the first one constructed by James Draper. Today’s machines are controlled by computers that can scan a design and direct the machines to knit fancy patterns.
In the same area, James’ son Robert was operating a small factory that produced cotton stockinette for rubber shoe linings. His factory was on A Captain Vose’s three corner lot at the corner of Chapman Street and Washington Street. The first building was destroyed by fire in June of 1870, and was rebuilt by 1880. The new building was a large, three story brick factory building. Robert Draper died on March 16, 1886. The company founded by Robert Draper continued at this location until just after the turn of the century. Dean Auto Company, possibly the first automobile service station occupied the building until August of 1911 when Leslie Safety Razor Company of Boston moved in. They manufactured the Leslie Safety Razor and the Spiral Stropper. They had offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Montreal, London and Paris. The business had grown rapidly and the larger quarters at Canton fit their needs perfectly, with a large roomy factory on the electric car line. The railroad nearby served well for the shipping of their products around the country. The future was bright for the rapidly expanding company, but by August of 1915 they were gone. In their place came Precision Tool Company manufactures of dies, jigs, fixtures and fine mechanic’s tools.
Today the only thing that remains of this complex is 38 Chapman Street, a small two story brick structure which is used as a residence. The remained of the site has been improved by single family houses.
Canton relied heavily on the textile industry at the end of the nineteenth century and had many small producers of knit goods. They included in the Ponkapoag area, John Dewick (1869), Charles Stretton and Sons (1870), John Stretton (1876) and William Roberts on Dedham Street, (1879).
South on Chapman St. was another industry that was started by the one time partner of James Draper. George Sumner incorporated the Knitted Mattress Company on August 3, 1880. They manufactured padding for tables, stairs, mattresses, car seats and church pews. One pad was thick enough to go directly in a bed spring. They supplied hospitals, soldiers’ homes, asylums, railroad companies and hotels around the country. Constructed of the highest grade sterilized cotton and woof covering, they were washable and saved time and money.
The building still stands today set back in the woods and has been surrounded by single family residents. It now houses several different companies.
One of the most influential Canton manufacturers and politicians in the late nineteenth century was Mr. Elijah Morse. He was elected to the state legislature in 1876 and was elected to the state senate in 1886 and 1887. He served in four sessions of Congress and would have served a fifth term if his health hadn’t failed. Mr. Morse resided in Sharon at the time of the Civil War when he enlisted as a member of the Massachusetts 4th Regiment. During their campaign against Port Hudson, Louisiana, he was captured by the Confederates during their raid on Brashear City.
When Elijah returned from the war in 1864, he obtained a formula to manufacture stove polish from Dr. Charles Jackson, a noted Boston chemist. He began production of the polish in small amounts, selling it from door to door, eventually building a factory on the east side of Washington Street just north of Sherman Street. In 1868 he joined forces with his brother Albert and formed Morse Brothers.
The company had Plumbago (graphite) mined and shipped in bulk from Ceylon. Once the raw product arrived in Canton it was ground into a fine dust and mixed according to the formula, compressed into cakes and packaged for sale. The paste or polish was distributed under two names, Rising Sun Stove Polish and Sun Paste Polish. The product was sold in wrapped cakes, and tins. The tins were made of good American tin and manufactured on the factory grounds. Mr. Morse was a true believer in advertisement and made Rising Sun Stove Polish and Morse Bros., Canton, Massachusetts U. S. A. well known around the world. Elijah Morse died in 1896 at which time his sons gained control of the company and continued the business. As advances were made in new types of stoves the market in this country for their product began to drop and the business suffered. On July 19, 1912 the last advertisement for the polish appeared in the Canton Journal and shortly thereafter the doors closed.
The separate buildings that made up the Rising Sun plant were sold off and by 1925, there were three separate companies operating at the site.
One of the new occupants of this complex was Canton Heel Company, manufacturer of rubber heels and bases for men’s shoes. They moved to Canton from Whitman in 1921 and made what was known in the business as the Haverhill Heel. Strangely, they had customers all over the country but did not supply the Brockton shoe market, one of the largest in the country. They were capable of manufacturing 15,000 heels or bases per day and employed about sixty men and women.
One of the buildings was sold to the August Thiel Company, manufactures of paper boxes. Mr. Thiel had been engaged in the wholesale liquor business when the Prohibition Act was voted into effect. The business that had a value of more than $500,000 was lost by a vote of Congress. Mr. Thiel had been a resident of Canton since 1911 and lived at the foot of Blue Hill on what is today part of the Instron Corporation property. After Mr. Thiel’s death. Mr. John P. Chase purchased the property in 1930 and created a very comfortable estate. Today the main house is still standing and has been converted into office space.
Mr. Thiel and his son began their new business, box making, in a clean sunny factory near the Canton railroad station at a startup cost of approximately $50,000. In the beginning it was difficult to find competent help and it was a struggle to meet the orders. As time went by an efficient superintendent was found and a training program made his employees some of the best in the industry. He paid his help a fair wage and provided good working conditions. Before long they were making eighteen to twenty thousand boxes a day. The business needed more space so they purchased one of the larger buildings of the old Morse factory complex from Canton Heel Company. Shortly after, the entire operation was moved into the building on Pequit Street.
The business prospered only a short time when during the early morning hours of March 17, 1925 the factory was consumed by fire and completely destroyed. This spectacular fire could be seen from miles around and required all the assets of the Canton Fire department with help from Sharon to put it out. Nothing was saved except the four walls and on April 17, Mr. Thiel announced that he would not rebuild.
The building did not go unattended for very long, for by July 17, 1925 the building was entirely renovated and open for business. Mr. Charles E. Rathburn, son of Charles B. Rathburn, had been in the patent leather business with his father with the firm that carried his name. The younger Mr. Rathburn moved to Woburn shortly after his fathers firm was consolidated into Norfolk Japanneries. He had started his own patent leather firm in Woburn and was now returning to Canton, bringing with him all the machinery necessary to get started.
In February of 1930 the building was occupied by the Crankless Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of Diesel engines. The owner, Mr. A. G. M. Mitchell was an internationally known mechanical engineer from Australia. He was the inventor of the Mitchell Crankless Engine, and the Mitchell Thrust Bearing that was in wide use in the war ships of the British Navy.
A firm that also made this building their corporate headquarters in May of 1931 was Wallace-Roberts, Inc. It had all of its manufacturing and shipping operations here and had great plans for expansion both nationally and internationally. The company produced a nationally known product which was advertised in all the major publications including, Life, Judge, and The New Yorker, and was the sponsor of the baseball score on WNAC radio at 11PM. Little information was found after the first announcement that the company had come to town. This may have had something to do with the fact that the sole product produced by the company was alcoholic hangover reliever called "Pix-up".
The Blaine Corporation was another company that used this same building and produced vinyl compounds and concentrates for the wire and cable industry. In August of 1959 the company opened a second plant at 220 Bolivar Street where it installed extrusion equipment and produced polyethylene compounds. Blaine grew rapidly in Canton and continually added equipment and expanded its plants on Bolivar Street in 1963. Some of the products developed by this company included some ground breaking compounds that were non-toxic and heat stable, clear vinyl. These could be used in medical tubing, milk bottles and other containers, and mouthpieces for athletes.
Today, the building is owned by AFM Generator Co. Inc., which provide service and installation of stand-by generators. They have been in business since 1970 and have called Canton home during all that time. They started in the Knitted Mattress factory on Chapman Street, then moved to Turnpike Street until they occupied their current quarters. Their main clients are the telecommunication industry, municipalities, airports and other similar facilities.
In April of 1928, the largest part of the Old Rising Sun complex was purchased by Tobe Deutschmann Company, a Cambridge based manufacturer and importer of technical and radio apparatus, including the Tiny Tobe and Tobe B Block amplifiers. Deutschmann Co. would be one of the largest manufacturers in the town for the next twenty years. They secured many government contracts during World War II and established manufacturing and storage sites all around the town. Fifty years after they came to town the real impact of their presence was felt when a barn on a farm owned by the company was destroyed by a fire. It was discovered that the condensers stored in the building had released toxic vapors into the air and contaminated the soil. While this story is being written the clean up continues. The neighbors who had once welcomed the employment now live in fear of the unseen dangers that linger.
The Mansfield Fishing Pole Company was another occupant in the complex during the time that Tobe owned it. They manufactured fine fishing poles, which complimented the fishing line business which had been in continuos operation for over seventy five years. The company was taken over by the Schindler Company in 1933. Schindler manufactured violin, guitar, mandolin and banjo strings. They continued in the same line until it, too, was purchased by Rain-Beau Company in 1944, which remained in the same business and location till the late 1950’s.
Also located in the Rising Sun complex was Cuprinol Inc.. They moved into the property in January of 1936, under the direction of Leslie Soule, the former general manager of Addison-Leslie Company. They began to manufacture this wood preservative that is still a well known name today. The product had been invented in Denmark over twenty years before and was used with success on many famous buildings including Windsor Castle and Oxford University structures.
Another business in a similar line was Brooks Glue Co. manufacturers of various glues and adhesives which occupied one of the buildings from just after World War II until 1988 when ERC Wiping Products, Inc. arrived. As manufacturers of absorbent wiping, polishing cloths, and disposable paper wipers it employs approximately 30 people.
Ideal Instrument Co. Inc. occupies a small wooden building at the rear of the property and does machine work.
The other major occupant of this complex is Emerson & Cuming / W. R. Grace Special Polymers which moved in to the building in 1952. This operation and the one on Walpole Street had once been together but the Walpole Street plant and business were sold to another firm. They employ about 55 people in the production of polymers.
The area around Canton Junction has always been a center of business and industrial development. The railroad has a rich history of its own and has been a major influence on Canton. Today, even thought the coal sheds, freight houses, and spur lines are gone it impacts life in town daily. The area has become a large commuter center with parking lots predominate in the area. The flow of cars through the town clogs the streets and makes getting from one side of the town to the other a challenge. The current expansion of the parking spaces promises to increase the problem with no relief in sight.
At the same time Elijah Morse was starting his venture, a factory was erected on Sherman Street near the Canton Junction by Joseph W. Wattles, Charles Draper, Horace H. Mansfield and Daniel T. V. Huntoon. This factory manufactured suspenders, braid and other elastic items. The Canton Elastic Fabric Company remained in operation until 1870.
At that time it came under new management and a new name, Narragansett Suspender and Web Company, Joseph Wattles was still part of the ownership and had invented a dressing for elastic which was patented. This company remained in operation until the building was destroyed by fire in 1884. A train on its way to Boston stopped and the passengers got off to watch the conflagration.
The street next to the location of his building still bears his name and one of the buildings still stands on the corner of Wattles St. and Chapman St.
After the fire another building was erected near by and was occupied by The Cornelius C. Callahan Fire Hose Company of Canton, which was organized here in 1892 after starting in Boston in 1886. Mr. Callahan perfected a machine that manufactured seamless cotton hose which revolutionized the fire hose making industry. He also invented a machine for weaving Jersey Cloth for which he won a bottom patent. At the time he won his patent, there had only been three similar patents issued and they were on the McCormick Reaper, Howe Sewing Machine and the Morse telegraph. Another invention he is credited with is the Shut off nozzle which was used extensively in the country’s fire departments. Mr. Callahan remained in business until 1908 when he retired. He remained an active member of the community until his death in January of 1922.
In 1919, the building was purchased by the Grow Tire Company and by November of 1920, Callahan Fire Hose Company was forced to close its doors.
The George Grow Tire Company manufactured tires for the growing automobile industry and became very well known in the New England area. They quickly grew from a modest start of 50 tires per day to over 500 per day and employed about 125 local people by 1921. The company had great plans for expansion which never materialized because by 1924 the company was in receivership and production had all but stopped. In February of 1925 the assets of the company were sold to the Old Colony Tire Company which continued in the production of tires until the operation was taken over by the Plymouth Rubber Company for the manufacture of rain coats.
In October of 1929, the property was taken over by the A. Emerson Company of Boston. One of their subsidiaries, Sweetland Waste Company of South Boston and Providence RI purchased the site with the intent of moving their South Boston operation to Canton. Sweetland manufactured cotton waste for wiping purposes, upholstery and bedding.
The factory again changed hands in 1933 when the Feathercraft Company took over the building. This company designed and built boats using a new patented process that used a molded plastic wood for the hulls of small boats. The material for the hull was also manufactured in Canton by A. S. Boyle Company. The boat was nine feet long and four feet wide. It had a total hull weight of 120 pounds but a capacity of 1000 pounds. Testing of the boats were conducted on the Reservoir Pond and at the Cohasset Yacht Club. Although little is know of the ultimate outcome of this firm, the design and materials are very much like the bulk of today’s small boats.
Today this building is still standing and is currently for sale. For the last twenty-five years it has been home to National Starch and Chemical Co. manufacturers of starches and adhesives. The company began as Nation Gum and Mica Co. in 1895 when it was purchased for $1,200.00 and today is a 2.5 billion dollar, multi-national company with its world headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Another industry of interest in this area was owned and operated by Mr. Joseph H. Hatfield. As a painter of portraits and landscapes who had his work exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1891, he won several medals at the Mechanics Institute and the Worlds Fair. In May, 1903, he put down his brush and put his talents to work on a problem that plagued all artists at that time, the poor quality of their paints. He constructed a factory that still stands today behind his house on Beaumont Street. He researched the chemistry of color and devoted the last 25 years of his life to the perfection of the pigments that would not betray the talents of his fellow artists. Mr. Hatfield died in January of 1928 and was a great loss to his community and friends.
Today, this is part of Phoenix Electric Corp. This company started in Stoughton in 1973 and moved to 480 Neponset St. in 1975. In 1981 it purchased five acres of land and three industrial building at 659 Sherman St. These buildings had formally housed the Hatfield Paint Co., part of Crow Blacking, J. J. White Paper Co. and various others firms over the years.
John J. White manufactured and distributed tarred building paper products. Mr. White died in September of 1939 and willed to the town the sum of $25,000 to establish a hospital. He also left the sum of $14,000 to his employees. After his death the business continued until around 1963.
Phoenix Electric’s first and current president is Mr. Thomas F. Clark, Canton resident and one of the original founders. The company manufactures high voltage power equipment for the electrical utility industry and for large industrial users. They produce a wide range of products and serve a worldwide market. The company employs approximately 30 people and can boast that their products can be found on every continent.
In 1886, Elwyn A Capen, a chemical engineer began manufacturing blacking and leather dressings on the location that is today the Hellenic Nursing Home on Sherman Street. Crow Blacking Company continued making chemicals until shortly after the turn of the century. As the Patent leather industry began to grow, it went from just producing the chemicals to production of patent leather. George H. Capen, brother of Elwyn, expanded the business to take advantage of the growing leather industry and by 1921 it employed 125 men and had 60,000 square feet of floor space. They expanded from 100 sides of leather per day to about 1500 per day.
The process of making Patent leather requires that a side of leather be treated with several boiled liquids, stretched and dried until it gains the perfect glaze. The hides were stretched on racks in the yard of the factory on sunny days, for without the sun they would not gain the perfect glaze.
The main customer for the company was Thayer-Foss Company of Boston. They provided the hides for treatment and had them made into dress shoes, straps, belts and bags which were sold all over the world.
To offset this limited market, the company remained active in the chemical industry by purchasing W. A. Davis Ink Company which was incorporated into Crow Specialists Co., manufacturers of ink, library paste hat dye and similar chemicals. The company supplied the government with shoe dubbing which was used as a waterproofing during World War I.
After the war business became depressed the company lost its main customer and was forced to close its doors. The property was purchased and the buildings demolished. The site of the factory remained vacant for many years with only the concrete foundations of the buildings remaining to stimulate the minds of the local children.
Crow Blacking was not the only Patent leather business in the town at the turn of the century. Whether one caused the other to start we do not know but about the same time that Crow Blacking began producing Patent leather, a new company came to town.
In 1902, Mr. Charles E. Rathburn moved into the old Dennison estate at Canton Junction and began the production of patent leather. Shortly thereafter Mr. Charles B. Rathburn, father of Charles E., arrived from Little Falls, N. Y. and moved onto the old Folsom oilcloth factory. The factory was quickly improved and within several weeks leather production was in full swing. Mr. Charles B. Rathburn is reported to be the original inventor of enameled, chrome, and patent leathers. The company assumed the name of its founder C. B. Rathburn Inc.
Mr. Rathburn continued his New York operation for some time but by 1904 was in full operation here in Canton. The business quickly grew and it was soon realized that a new plant would be required. In April of 1924 it was announced that ground would be broken for a new factory on a seventeen acre site on Neponset Street. Reynolds Brothers Construction Company of Canton was awarded the contract and work began shortly thereafter. The complex had four separate one story buildings, measuring 150 feet by 58 feet and a large boiler room. The factory was designed to produce 2700 skins per day and would employ 140 men. The old plant remained in operation and would be restructured and consolidated into the new firm, which would be known as Norfolk Japanneries, Inc. with William F. Rathburn as president. It was at this time that Charles E. Rathburn left the company and moved to Woburn, only to return some six years later as an independent company in the old August Thiel building.
Norfolk Japanneries remained in business at this location until September of 1939 when the company was sold to Canton Japanning Company which in turn was purchased by Porter Japanning Company of Woburn. Porter Japanning was one of the largest contract Japanneries in the country, having two large plants in Woburn. Production at the Canton plant increased to over 3000 sides per day with up to 175 people employed.
Today the hides are gone and additional buildings have been built. The Neponset Valley Industrial Park is owned and managed by D. and O. Investors and contains numerous independent companies including Butler Automatic Inc., - Bldg. # 11 - is a manufacturer of precision paper splicing equipment for printers and box manufactures. They have been located in Canton more than 25 years and employ approximately 85 people at this location. They also have operations in New Jersey and France.
Circle Computer Co., - Bldg. #12 - buys and sells computer equipment. and has been in town eight years and employees four people full time.
Media Recovery Inc., - Bldg. #12 - also deals in computer equipment, however they also manufacture toner and ribbons. They hold a patent on an item known as Shock Watch a small sticker that changes color when the package it is affixed to is mishandled. They have been in town about 20 years and employ over a dozen people.
LeFeBure, - Bldg. # 1- has its headquarters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and is a division of DeLaRue Co., they distribute security equipment and currency handling systems worldwide.
Creative Video Design & Production - Bldg. #1 - produces corporate and industrial video’s and instructional tapes. They have been in Canton since 1983 and employ 8 people.
Consumer Testing Laboratories, - Bldg. #2- This is the corporate headquarters for this company. They provide testing of garments, toys, shoes, small appliances and paint for their client companies. Starting in Boston in 1952 they moved to Canton in 1976 and currently have laboratories in Hong Kong, Singapore, Missouri, Arkansas and Canada.
Karam Industrial Technologies, - Bldg. #9 VAPEX --Envirogen / Environmental Technologies Inc. - Bldg. #9
Crathco Plant / Grindmaster Corp. - Bldg.’s #5 & 6 - produce refrigerated beverage dispensers. Crathco as been in operation in Canton since 1969 and was purchased by Grindmaster of Kentucky in 1989. They employ about 40 people at the Canton location.
DAKA@ - Elderly Nutrition - Bldg. #4 - prepares and deliver 4,000 meals per day to the elderly. They have been in operation in Canton since 1984, employ 16
American Electrical Testing Companies - Bldg. # 4 -has been in Canton since 1983, they do high voltage distribution testing and maintenance for commercial and industrial clients. Locally they service Plymouth Rubber and Draper Bros., and employ about 20 people.
Air Energy Inc. - Bldg. #3 - sell and service all type of air compressors. It employs 15 people and has been in town for 5 years.
L & C Flashing Barricades - Bldg. # 7 - It produces signs and traffic control devices, and installs and services temporary traffic control systems. It has been in Canton 26 years and employs approximately 60 people.
Unitel Inc. - Bldg. # 14 was listed as one of America’s fastest growing companies, by Inc. magazine, for the second year in a row in 1996. They provide voice and data communications to businesses like Chili’s Bar and Grill, Bruegger’s Bakeries and others. Starting in 1988 they have grown to have expected sales of more than 5 million dollars by the end of 1996. They employ 35 people in Canton and cover all of New England from this location.
On the opposite side of Neponset Street and several hundred yards north is another area that has two large buildings divided into smaller sections.
In this development can be found: Gabriel’s Auctions, auctioneers of estates large and small.
CNI Community News Dealers, who distribute newspapers to local distributors.
Voice Systems Inc., which sells, services and installs telephone systems for industrial clients. They came to Canton in 1988 and employ about 20 people.
Rise Energy Services, has its headquarters in Cranston RI but moved a branch to Canton in August of 1993. They provide a service that is targeted at commercial clients and helps them conserve energy. It works in conjunction with the local power companies.
Just past this park are the remnants of another once important business venture. Today, only two of the buildings remain. Standing quietly, waiting for mother nature to reclaim the land are two airplane hangers. These are hold outs from the heyday of flight, when every young adventurer, male or female, wanted to soar with the birds.
In 1930, Massachusetts Air Terminal and Arena, paid the cost of engineering and the organization counsel in an effort to develop the property. It was estimated that the airport would cost about $385,000 and take seven months of open weather to build. The area selected was tested during the summer and found to be more than suitable. It was naturally flat and had its own supply of gravel. With a transportation terminal, industrial sites, and the near by railroad, it had the potential of being one of the greatest airports in the country.
The group became known as the Boston Metropolitan Airport, Inc. and from the sale of bonds, four gravel runways were constructed in 1931. American Airways constructed a hangar and an administration building on the property along with E.W. Wiggins Airways. One of the major features of the facility was to be a tethering structure for dirigibles and a base for the Transatlantic traffic. After the destruction of the Hindenburg in New Jersey and the decline in the use of the dirigibles, those plans were dropped.
During the years of the depression, the airport failed to grow as expected, but air shows and other demonstrations drew large crowds. During World War II the airport was part of the defense system and flight training program along the East coast. It was during this time that the Canton Airport came into competition with Bedford Airport for government contracts and expansion. Bedford won the competition because the overall geographic area was more suitable, and today it is still a busy, active concern. The failure of the town to modernize the facility and the runways guaranteed its death. In 1946, Wiggins Airways moved across the river to Norwood where it remains today.
The last aircraft related company at Canton Airport was Helio Aircraft Corporation. This corporation was formed in 1950 with the merger of Helio Corporation of Massachusetts and Midwest Aircraft Corporation. In 1948, Helio began research and development of an advanced executive aircraft that would provide for ultra-short field operation while having the attributes of a normal plane. The plane design was certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in August of 1953. In June of 1954, the first two Couriers were accepted as conforming to standard type and were delivered to private purchasers. In 1956, the company merged with Mid-States Manufacturing Corporation of Pittsburgh, Kansas. The Canton location was then primarily research and development with some limited amounts of construction. It employed about 46 people in Canton and remained here until 1964 when it moved to Bedford Airport. Helio’s first plane manufactured in Canton went into the Smithsonian Institute in Washington in October of 1963.
This section of town has been examined for the construction of sports arenas, hotels, and every possible type of industry. None of these plans was as grand as the one that was put forward in 1954.
The Metropolitan Industrial Center announced that it was planning the development of a 556 acre-tract in the Fowl Meadows. Theodore A. Roselund of Greenlodge Street was President of this company. He claimed that the location of this property was the best possible because there was a two mile frontage on the railroad so that the transportation of products produced by heavy industry could easily be shipped around the country. The Norwood Airport could provide speedy air transport for defense related industries, and the access to Routes 1 and the new 128 would attract smaller local industries along Neponset Street. The sewer line installed in the 1930Õs, natural gas lines, water and electric utilities would make development relatively easy.
Needless to say this plan never got off the drawing board and today only the two hangers remain. Had this plan moved ahead, our town would have a very different appearance today, and that little airport would have lived up to its potential.
The only other major feature of the Fowl Meadows is Interstate Highway 95, built as part of the plan to connect America, which was advanced by President Eisenhower in the 1950’s. It was completed up to Route 128, the circuitous highway built around Boston in the late 1950’s.
Canton’s contact with The Fall River Expressway is an area of town that can only be reached by passing through Stoughton on Route 139 to the Canton and Randolph line. Cedar Street has seen industrial development for many years and today has several fine companies.
One of the first and most prominent businesses was the American Fireworks Company. In February of 1911, the Selectmen granted a license to the owner of the American Fireworks Company of Boston to establish their operation here. They purchased thirty-six acres of land, erected several buildings and began the manufacture of fireworks. Over the years the company provided many beautiful holiday displays for the town and grew to be one of the largest manufacturers of fireworks in this country. They also created some problems in the way of explosions in which several people were killed. Safety was always a topic of discussion and became more so as the area around it became more densely populated. In 1948, Marshall Paper Tube moved next door and residential neighborhoods were erected in Stoughton and Randolph.
On November 24, 1958, a serious explosion killed three people and destroyed or damaged several buildings. This incident caused the Selectmen to revoked their license to operate. A hearing that was held in the Town Hall on April 29, 1959 was well attended by the neighbors who wanted the revocation to stand. The attorney representing the fireworks company contended that no grounds existed for the revocation and pointed out that the plant had been on the site long before the neighboring homes had been built. The attorney also pointed out that the town would have to show that the company was operating contrary to the law. Testimony was heard from the Fire Chief on the difficulties of getting to the property and the reluctance of the fire departments from Randolph and Stoughton to respond to the site. Both towns had personnel injured in the November blast.
The legal wrangling continued. The company sued the Selectmen for a malicious abuse of process. The Company and two officers were found guilty, with fines totaling $900 of failing to provide proper workers compensation insurance. The State Fire Marshall backed the town by refusing to overturn the revocation. The plant was raided several times and each time fireworks or powder was confiscated. A judge ruled that the company’s case should be turned over to a grand jury in Dedham. By the time the court cases were over the company was gone. Many area towns were without fireworks on the fourth of July 1959.
Marshall Paper Tube Co. was founded in 1948 and has remained in the same location but has increased its overall size to 50,000 square feet. It manufactures mailing tubes, paper cans and other specialty paper items of a similar nature. Some of the processes used in production were developed by their personnel, and they are the holders of the patents on those processes.
Next door to Marshall is S W B Co. a food distributor that built their building in 1969. The building is used for warehousing and office space.
Also on Cedar Street is Cotti-Johnson Corp. - HVAC contractors who install and service heating and air conditioning equipment for commercial and industrial clients. They have been in Canton for three years and employ 25 to 30 people.
Medical Air Technologies Corp. manufacture air purification systems for hospitals and other medical facilities. They have offices in five other states but Canton is national headquarters. They moved here from Boston in 1995 and have 22 full time employees.
Cedar Street leads to the Canton Technology Center, Campanelli Circle, and Carver Circle.
At the start of Campanelli Circle is Delphax Systems Inc. This is the world headquarters for this producer of high speed cut-sheet and roll-fed electronic page printing systems and print management software. Founded in Canada in 1980 they moved to the United States in 1985 and from Randolph to their new building in Canton in 1991. With offices in Canada, Germany, England, Finland and France they are a 60 million dollar company with a bright future.
APA ( Alfieri - Proctor Associates), Distributor of HVAC air flow products.
Avon Corrugated Corp. built their building in 1968 and have designed and manufactured cardboard boxes at this location since.
Behind Avon Corrugated is Handy Pax Inc., distributors of snack foods from this location since 1975. One of their most familiar products are peanut butter filled crackers found in stores around the area.
Some of the other companies in the area are Sales Marketing Service, Newton Sales Corp., Gibbs - McAllister, S&K Associates. Some of the land in the area is about to be developed and new businesses should be opening soon.
In order to attract more industry, the town began the process of developing certain areas for limited industrial use. Canton began by rezoning the land along the major roadways. At first, the opposition to changes in zoning was high, even with the recommendation of the Planning Board and Mr. Alan Benjamin, Planning Consultant and designer of the Master Plan.
One of the bright spots in the industrial picture of 1958 was the addition of Instron Engineering Corporation at the intersection of the new Route 128 and Route 138. This piece of property was one of the first to receive the new zoning classification of light industrial in 1957.
Mr. Harold Hindman had been working in the Textile Division in the Mechanical Engineering Department at M. I. T., and Mr. George Burr was an M. I. T. graduate student with a background in electronics and strain gages. Both were assigned to a project for the United States Air Force during World War II that was attempting to find a suitable substitute for the silk used in parachutes. They were to develop a testing instrument that would provide accurate measurements during controlled test conditions.
After the war the pair remained teamed up and founded their company. Instron, the name was a combination of Instrument and Electronics, just like the machine itself was a combination of the backgrounds of its inventors. Arrangements were made for Mathewson Machine of Quincy, MA to manufacture and assemble the first instruments. In 1948. Seven machines were made and the company was off and running. Sales grew steadily with the post war materials revolution. By 1955, the company outgrew its space at Mathewson and moved into an old movie house in North Quincy, which it also quickly found to be inadequate.
The company purchased a tract of land in 1957, along the new highway that was passing the foot of Blue Hill in Canton. The land had been zoned for Alight industry and the plans for the area would allow the company to grow. The first plans for the new building were the exact thing the Industrial Commission was seeking for. It would be a neat masonry and steel structure, set back from the road and shielded from the residential neighbors by trees and other plantings.
At the time Instron moved into its building in 1958, it had 75 to 80 employees and sales of about two million dollars. During the early 1960’s the company doubled in size and added an overseas operation just outside London, in High Wycombe, which serviced Europe and the Middle East.
In 1966, the company purchased 56 acres of land adjacent to the Canton plant. This property was the old August Thiel estate that had been purchased by Mr. John Chase. One of the buildings, a 35 room mansion was converted into a training center. Much of the grounds were maintained with beautiful plantings, fields and barns. The preservation of these attributes made the company a pleasant place to work and promoted loyalty and dedication in its employees.
New products were developed to meet the demands of the rapidly growing industry of the country and the world. As computer technology came into the marketplace, it was incorporated into the company’s machines and helped expand its markets for testing equipment.
Instron has earned a reputation as a world leader in mechanical materials testing instruments and systems. It has also been a good corporate neighbor of the town that is proud to have its world headquarters so neatly tucked into the foot of Blue Hill.
This property is about to go through a major change. A large piece of the property has been sold to Reebok International of Stoughton, MA. They will be constructing their world headquarters next door to Instron. The plans call for a 60 feet high main building and a parking garage to reduce the amount of open space that is disturbed by the project.
One of the major developers in the 138 area was the Milton based, A. A. Will Company, which began by helping to build Route 128 in the Milton - Canton area. It established a gravel pit on Royall Street that became Boston Envelope in 1971, and is today Boston Equi Services, a Bank of Boston - State Street Service Company. Boston Equi Services acts as the transfer agent for many large national and international firms.
Next to this one time gravel pit is the Boston Mutual Life Insurance Co., - 120 Royall Street. This company was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on August 18, 1891 and was in business by February of 1892. The Company occupied many different locations in the city of Boston before moving to Canton in 1974. It currently employ 297 people and has more than 11.8 billion dollars of insurance in force.
Directly at the foot of the Blue Hills there is one other site that could have its own history written that would be larger then this entire volume.
The Maresfield Farm / Prowse Farm / Codex Corporation - 7 Blue Hill River Rd. In the late 1970’s Codex purchased 55 acres of land in the shadow of Blue Hill with the intent of building its World Headquarters.
The farmland had a rich history before, but the development of the site for commercial / industrial use would be the most dramatic. This was a classic confrontation between development, preservation and conservation. The battle was in the news almost nightly. It involved almost every political figure in the state including four different Governors, sports celebrities, preservationists, conservationist, and lawyers by the ton. The argument over this project reached the State Supreme Court. For almost eight years the company had to battled over every stick and stone it moved. The company persisted and in 1985, it moved into the new building.
Codex was founded in 1962 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it manufactured data communications equipment to transmit computerized information between computers over telephone lines. It had developed a way of increasing the speed of existing modems four fold. In 1977 it was acquired by Motorola and by 1982 Motorola’s data communications division had revenues of almost 250 million dollars. It started with seven employees in 1962 and employed almost 2,500 by 1984. In 1980, it ranked third in the Commonwealth for job creation. By 1990, it was gone and the property was sold to a computer software company from Westwood.
Medical Information Technology, Inc. - Meditech has been in the medical software business for 28 years. They produce Meditech Health Care Information Systems that help link affiliated health care providers in a common information network. In 1996 they had 168 million dollars in software revenues, serviced 1,094 organizations and employed 1,633 people.
The success of Instron may have had an impact on the Town Meeting in March of 1960. In Article 14 twenty-two zoning changes were proposed and all but two passed.
One of the areas changed to Limited Industrial was the land between Dedham Street and the railroad tracks.
Salah and Pecci Construction and J. F. White Construction Co. began removal of the gravel in 1964 and two roads were developed off of Dedham Street for access into the area. Hudson Road and Shawmut Road allowed for development after the gravel was removed and the site prepared.
Today this industrial park is accessed via Shawmut Road, near the overpass at Route 95 and it contains many large warehouse type buildings and several manufacturers.
Computer Identics - 5 Shawmut
Brite Voice Systems - 40 Shawmut has its world headquarters in Wichita, Kansas with offices in 5 other states. Around the world they have offices in England, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Republic of South Africa, Hong Kong, Paris and Singapore. Founded in 1984 they went public in 1989 and are traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange. They provide voice processing and information systems, financial telemanagement, interactive voice response and recognition, voice mail, fax mail and audio information services. Their main customers are telephone companies, government agencies, utilities and newspapers. They employ about 700 people world wide. The Canton site is one of two Interactive Information System centers in this country.
Comdisco - 50 Shawmut, has its world headquarters in Rosemont Illinois. They have operations in 20 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The Canton operation is considered a regional headquarters and has been here about five years. The building contains about 28,000 square feet and is considered a state-of-the-art facility for the reconditioning of scientific and clinical laboratory equipment.
Chandler & Farquhar - 60 Shawmut, distributes miscellaneous hardware to industrial clients. In business for 25 years, they have been at their Canton site about 8 years.
Entex Info Services - 60 Shawmut, is a privately held company that provides total PC management. As an information system and service company, they provide help desk and desktop service for its client companies. This includes computer hardware and software distribution. Their headquarters is in Rye Brook N.Y. and had about 2 billion dollars in revenues in 1996.
Nahatan Medical, Triad Direct, Inc., Glidway (print/copy/mailing/data processing) - 55 Shawmut Road.
Analog Devices, Edwards, Expo Registration - 70 Shawmut Road
National Door/Arnold Industries - 80 Shawmut
Oravax - 90 Shawmut, has its headquarters in Cambridge, MA was incorporated in 1990. In an effort to expand its operations they recently opened a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility here in Canton to produce one of its main products HNK 20. As leaders in the discovery and development of oral vaccines and non-injected antibody products they are on the cutting edge biopharmaceutical industry.
Taylor Freeze, Columbia Diagnostics, Inc., Pantresse, Delta Elevator, International Beverage - 65 Shawmut Road.
BLH Electronics - 75 Shawmut, is the worlds most experienced manufacture of electronic force and weight measurement systems and components.
CSA, Inc. (Distribution Facility) - 95 Shawmut, Salah & Pecci Construction - 100 Shawmut, AGH Industries - 110 Shawmut.
Stream, Learningsmith - 105 Shawmut, Otis Clapp & Sons - 115 Shawmut, M.J. Malloy Co., Inc. - 125 Shawmut, this company is a wholesaler of floral supplies.
Grinnel - 130 Shawmut, moved to Canton in 1972. They design, manufacture, install and service fire sprinkler systems.
Charleswater, Inc., has been in Canton for four years. They produce static control products . Corporate headquarters is in California and they have a sister company in Marlboro, MA Desco Industries - 90 Hudson
Staples - 80 Hudson, Part of the retail office supply giant of Westboro, MA
Tweeter Etc. - 40 Hudson Rd, This is the headquarters for this retail electronic dealer. They have 35 stores between New Hampshire and Delaware and were voted the number 1 retailer by Audio Video magazine in 1996. They moved to Canton, from Cambridge in 1992 and currently employ about 35 in Canton.
Reliance Printing - 50 Hudson, provides general printing services and specializes in custom forms and envelopes.
Hudson Rd. off Dedham St. has been changed to Colgate Way and leads to Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Colgate Polmolive, the global leader in oral care. It was formed in 1993, to emphasize the companies commitment to developing innovative therapies specifically for dental professionals. Some of their products include Colgate Total & Plus toothbrushes and floss.
Across Dedham St. from Shawmut Rd. is another small park that contains:
Robert Reiser and Company 725 Dedham St., Boston Special Risk - 755 Dedham St. and Fibersense Tech - 755 Dedham St. The latter company moved to Canton in July of 1996. They manufacture fiber optic gyroscopes used in many different industrial settings and by defense related manufacturers, and currently employ about 20 people.
At the Town Meeting in November 1961, a lively discussion was held about what some termed the "ghost road". Both sides of the issue stated their case. Those opposed thought it was a waste of money. Those in favor pointed out that this would help relieve some of the possible truck traffic from the development of the end of Dedham Street. They pointed to the new dairy that was being built and the possibility of other companies locating in the area. The fact that Route 95 would cut off the whole area from development was also a factor. Town Meeting voted $1,000 for the purpose of preparing a layout for a new town way connecting Dedham and Neponset Streets. Today only part of this road is a reality.
On Dedham Street just to the west of the railroad tracks University Road was started. As the plans for Route 95 developed it became clear that University Road would be a great help to the town both for industrial development and for public safety, since it appeared that the new highway would isolate parts of the town. The road was laid out and water lines completed by November of 1962. The first building on the new road was near completion at the same time. Shield Chemical first organized in 1955 by Francis P. Sugrue as Safe-T-Chemical Co. Inc. in Needham Heights moved to Hyde Park around the time George Bates bought controlling interest. The land in Canton was purchased in 1962 and they moved into 21 University Rd. in 1963. This building contained approximately 16,000 square feet. The business continued to expand and a new addition was added to the plant to bring the total area of production space to 40,000 square feet. Number 15 University Road was built with another 30,000 square feet. During this time they also built a plant in Piscataway, New Jersey and purchased another in Chino, California.
Another business operated by Mr. Bates was started in 1969, Tuckahoe Turf Farms was a sod farming business which grew into Tuckahoe Lawn Care Co. by 1979.
In 1970, Mr. Bates purchased a liquid packaging business, Harrison Supply Co. Inc. producing mainly hair care products which he moved into the Canton plant. As the business continued to expand additional space and land would be purchased in 1982 in Dudley and Webster Massachusetts. The new Massachusetts plants were bigger, and the aerosol manufacturing operations that started in Canton were moved to the new location. The New Jersey plant was closed and also moved to the Dudley and Webster sites.
Today the company employees approximately 300 people nationwide with 50 at the Canton location. The company plans further expansion here in Canton once the extension of the University Road is completed.
The plans for the connecting road never developed the way the Industrial Commission saw them but part of the plan proved true at least for Shields Chemical. The area opposite the railroad tracks from University Road between Dedham Street and Route 95, has recently been cleared with plans for light industrial or commercial type development.
Cumberland Farms which occupies the land north of Dedham Street and west of Route 95 broke ground for its plant around the same time as Shields Chemical taking occupancy in September of 1963. The company has grown steadily since.
Cumberland Farms currently has 808 stores in 11 states. They employ some 7500 people in the entire operation with approximately 500 in the Canton Headquarters. In 1986 it acquired the marketing rights for Gulf Oil in the northeast.
At the same time that University Road was being developed Turnpike Street was beginning to see rapid growth. Before the zoning changes in 1960 few businesses called Route 138 home.
The area between Turnpike Street and Pleasant Street, south of the Reservoir Pond and which lies within 2600 feet of Turnpike Street was changed to limited industrial.
Both sides of Turnpike Street within 400 feet of its intersection with Tracy-Wood Road were changed to business use. The entire length of Turnpike Street on both sides of the road from 2,000 feet south of Edwards Street to within 600 feet of Tracy Wood Road was changed to limited industrial use. These changes set the stage for some of the biggest development for business that has taken place in the last thirty-six years.
At a Special Town Meeting on November 20, 1960 it was pointed out that the town had not had to spend a lot in the past to develop services for industry. It was also pointed out that the water main extension along Turnpike Street had paid dividends in the form of the McKesson Robbins plant and the new construction of the Food Enterprises Inc.
These companies and several other companies that were actively looking at locating on Turnpike Street showed the greater good that could come from a relatively small investment like a water line.
J. Curry Mendes had a machine shop at the site that was also the location for the Blue Hill Drive-In Theater which opened June 27, 1958. The Drive-In could hold up 800 cars, had a modern snack bar, showed the latest movies and had a fireworks display. The double bill on opening night was This Could Be the Night (1957) staring Jean Simmons and Paul Douglas and Designing Women (1957) staring Vincente Minnelli, Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. The Drive-In is long closed but still holds memories for many town residents. Designed as a place to take the entire family it was quickly taken over by the youth of the town as the place to take a date. The police had their hands full on most weekend nights, and it wasn’t hard to tell when the movie was over by the sound of racing cars down the highway.
Today this is another industrial developed area that contains, The Boston Popcorn Co., Massachusetts Nurses Association, and Kryptonite Corporation.
Boston Popcorn moved to Canton in October of 1994, consolidating the administration operations from Newton and the manufacturing section in Randolph. They manufacture the original Lite Popcorn and many other varieties of popcorn sold under their own label and others. They employ 30 people at the Canton location.
Kryptonite Corporation manufactures and distributes high quality security devises for bicycles. It started in Cambridge in 1971 with $1,500 and a patent on the Kryptonite U- Lock. In 1983, the K-4 U-lock was awarded a permanent place in the design collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art. More products were developed and the company blossomed into a firm with 20 million dollars in sales in 1995. Moving to Canton from Dorchester in 1991 they currently employ about 80 people.
Just north of the entrance is Pequot Park, Pequot Way. Started in 1968 this area contains 5 buildings: One Pequot Way is occupied by A. A. MacPherson Company Inc. which was incorporated in 1964 as a electrical manufacturers representative. Supplying the highest quality electrical products to utilities throughout New England, they employ about thirty-six people and have occupied their building since 1978.
Close by the Drive-In were two other big attractions in the town. The Red Boot Steak House which began in an old farm house on the east side of the street was a very popular eatery until it was destroyed by fire. It was replaced with a new building where the 99 Restaurant is today. Many different type of restaurants have occupied the property since the Red Boot but none of them has had a steak that could match it. Next to the Red Boot was a driving range where one spent a few hours hitting golf balls or playing miniature golf on a warm summer evening.
The highway began to take on its current look shortly after the zoning change took effect. One of the first new industries was Food Enterprises Inc. a wholesale food broker located on the east side of the road just south of Whitman Drive.
Food Enterprises, Inc. / Merkert described at the time as one of the best known food brokerages in the United States moved into its new headquarters in February of 1962. It was a great addition to the Turnpike Street area. This company has grown considerably since it started here. They currently have many of the company departments spread out in different buildings along Turnpike street. A new larger building is under construction next to the main building and should be completed very soon.
On the opposite side of the road a little further south is one of the largest businesses on the road. Morse Shoe Co. Inc. broke ground for its building on September 21,1962 at 555 Turnpike Street. Then Governor John A. Volpe had the honor of turning the first shovel of earth for the 3.5 million dollar distribution center and headquarters. At the time Morse Shoe Inc. was the largest operator of self-service shoe departments and one of the top ten shoe retailers in the country.
The heart of the new facility was an IBM 1401 computer which controlled sorting, grouping, and the conveyance of the shoes within the 350,000 square foot building. The building brought all phases of the company’s business under one roof for more efficient operation. They had 194 stores in the United States and Canada with plans for expansion to 250 stores by the end of 1962.
Today, Morse Shoe is a wholly owned subsidiary of J. Baker, Inc. who moved its Hyde Park headquarters into the Canton plant in February of 1993. Other divisions of J. Baker are Casual Male, Big and Tall, and Work’N Gear. They employee approximately 400 people at the Canton location.
On the north side of the J. Baker property is Tuthill Co. / Kinney Vacuum Division who have been operating at this site since 1978. Kinney was a division of General Signal Corp. of Connecticut when it moved here from Jamaica Plain. It was purchased from General Signal by Tuthill in January of 1996. They manufacture vacuum pumps that that are used world wide in the food processing industry and employ 184 people.
On the same side of the road and just north of Tuthill, Co. is Commercial Sheetmetal Inc. Along their northern border is 437 Turnpike St. a large commercial style building that is divided into smaller units that house several packing and marketing companies and the overflow from Merkert Industries across the street.
North of this location is another industrial style building that is divided into at least six different companies.
On the same side of the street is The Walter Morris Company, which moved to Canton from Roxbury in 1972. They are distributors of plumbing and heating supplies and employ about 30 people.
Across the street is Whitman Road. Opened in the 1970’s it is a short dead end street that extends to the LaCasa Bianca, restaurant and function hall. Businesses along this road include Pearlco of Boston, Inc., Saratoga Salad Dressing Co., Cassidy & Lee Equipment Co. and Independent Pipe Co., a wholesale distributor of all types of piping. With operations in three other states they call Canton their national headquarters. Having occupied their building since 1975 they employ about 70 people nationally.
One of the final acts of the Zoning Board of Appeals in 1963 was the granting of a permit to Boston Sand & Gravel Co., to remove approximately 100,000 cubic yards of gravel per year from the Mount Hunger Lot on the Westerly side of Turnpike Street in a Limited Industrial area. The fact was that they had been removing gravel from the site since 1950 under a permit issued by the Selectman but the recent Zoning by-law change required them to get a new permit and pay a $1,000 fee. The bulk of the material removed from this site was used in the manufacture of concrete that helped build Boston into the city it is today.
Today this property is the Canton Commerce Center, Dan Road./John Road.
Copley Pharmaceutical, Inc. - 24 John Rd. was established in 1972 and moved to Canton in 1989. They develop, manufacture, market and distribute a broad range of multi-source pharmaceutical products. These products include prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Their main clients include over-the-counter drug distributors, retail chains, wholesalers, hospitals, HMO’s and government agencies. They currently hold 59 ANDA’s (Abbreviated New Drug Applications) and are attempting to increase that number all the time. They employ approximately 500 people.
Pollak Co. (Joseph Pollak Corp.), - 300 Dan Rd. - has been in business for more than eighty years. It develops and manufactures a wide variety of electromechanical products for the transportation industry. Some of the items that it manufactures are ignition switches, rotary and rocker switches, pushbuttons, instrument panel and powertrain switches, fuel valves, sensors, and several types of connectors. The company is a subsidiary of Stoneridge Companies of Warren, Ohio. Originally located on Freeport St. in Boston. they moved to Canton in March of 1996.
Stream International Inc., at 275 Dan Rd. was formed in April 1995 Through the merger of Corporate Software, Inc. and R.R. Donnelley’s Global Software Services. Corporate Software moved to Dan Rd. in 1991. The corporate headquarters is located at the Dan Rd. site.
Stream’s annual sales are $1.6 Billion and they employ over 8,000 employees in 17 countries. The company has offices in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, The Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States. The U. S. offices are in Freemont, California; Crawfordsville, Indiana; Canton, Massachusetts; Raleigh, North Carolina; Beaverton, Oregon; Portland, Oregon; Dallas, Texas; Lindon, Utah; Provo, Utah; Arlington, Virginia and Preston, Washington.
Stream is the world’s largest software manufacturer, marketer and technical support provider. Their Manufacturing division is located in Westwood, Massachusetts.
Interpolymer Corp. - 200 Dan Rd. - moved to Canton from the Mission Hill area of Boston in 1972 and occupied 330 Pine St. until 1993 when it moved into the larger facility on Dan Rd. It has a second location in Louisville, Kentucky and will be expanding into the European market with the addition of a German operation. It manufactures specialty polymer coating for wood, paper and fabric, as well as polymers for floor wax and cosmetics.
The building at 150 Dan Rd. is divided into four smaller areas that currently house: Intronics, Inc. - Which moved to Canton from Watertown in 1988 and manufacture DC-DC converters, Isolation Amplifiers, CRT Correction Devices, Custom DC to DC Converters, and battery chargers. These products are used in the computer, medical, industrial and aircraft industries.
ESI, Inc. (Electro Scientific Industries, Inc.) manufactures laser testing and repair equipment designed to test and repair wafers for the computer industry. It started in Canton as XRL, Inc. in 1988 and recently was purchased by ESI of Portland, Oregon. and employs approximately 30 people at the Canton location.
Organogenesis, Inc. was founded in 1985 and became a public corporation in 1986. It has been headquartered in Canton since 1992. The Company currently has 115 employees. Organogenesis designs, develops and manufactures medical therapeutics containing living cells and/or natural connective tissue components. The Company’s products are designed to promote the establishment and growth of new tissues and to restore, maintain or improve biological function. Organogenesis’ product development focus includes living tissue replacements, organ assist treatments and guided tissue regeneration scaffolds. Organogenesis’ lead product, Apligraf 0 manufactured human skin, is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for marketing approval.
Sarnafil, Inc. - 100 Dan Rd - began in Canton in 1975. It manufactures commercial roofing and waterproofing systems. It employs approximately 145 people and hopes to be expanding in the near future. Some of its products have been used on the World Trade Center, Boston, The Skydome and the Calgary Saddledome in Canada.
Avitar, Inc. - 65 Dan Rd. - moved to Canton in the late 1980’s. It employs about 60 people in research, development, and manufacture of medical wound care products.
Hill’s Department Store - 15 Dan Rd. - This is the corporate headquarters of the retail chain of department stores of the same name. Founded in 1957 by Herbert Goldberger, by 1964, he had seven stores and the company was sold to SCOA Industries. Mr. Goldberger continued as President of the chain and by 1981 it had 99 stores around the country. Hills Stores Company was formed in 1985 and was traded publicly in 1987. The company fell on hard times in late 1990 and early 1991 and was forced to seek protection under Chapter 11. By then it had 208 stores and had to close some to consolidate its operations.
A successful program rebuilt the stores and the company so that today Hill’s is back on its feet and is the seventh largest discount store chain in the United States. It employs over 18,000 associates in 151 stores in 11 states.
Hill’s has its corporate headquarters in Canton because the founder came from the Canton area. The Canton operation is the Store Support Center for all the stores throughout the country. Hill’s was the first major discount department store to have electronic point-of-sale terminals in all its stores. That faith in technology continues today with UPC scanning that helps it control inventory, provide detailed receipts and speedier checkouts to its customers.
Dynagraf, Inc. - 5 Dan Rd. - is a commercial / financial printer that moved from South Boston to Canton in January of 1996. It has been in business since 1973 and employs 140-150 people.
On the southeast side of Turnpike Street is one of the first side road developed in the 1960’s. Industrial Drive was extended off the road by A. A. Will to build several buildings. Today, Thomas O’Connor & Company are the most active of the businesses still on the road. They moved to Canton in 1978 from South Boston. They were founded in 1904 as McGahey and O’Connor. They are builders of large commercial, industrial and public buildings. One of the most recognizable structures that they are responsible for is the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston. They have 200 full time employees and call Canton home.
Further down the highway is the Canton Bronze and Aluminum Foundry which was at one time one of the only business along this stretch of highway. Founded just after World War II, it has remained in business since supplying custom cast metal parts to area industries. Today the highway south of Dan Road to the Stoughton line is lined with retail business operations including automobile dealerships, auto repair facilities, flower and gift shops, attorney, accountant and insurance agents offices. Several large office buildings house many different types of service companies.
At 960 Turnpike Street is Foxford Business Center, and the Naughton Company. This is a typical business complex that houses at least 11 different types of businesses. Ranging from Servicemaster Services Inc., who are professional cleaners to United Technical Products, Inc., developers, engineers, and makers of anti static carpet for computers rooms.
Further south on both sides of the road are similar office complexes. In one you’ll find developers, contractors and management companies. In the other we’ll find a company like Atlantic Nuclear Inc., who buy and sell products for radiation protection. Some people think that they deal in atomic weapons. To list all the firms in this part of town would require a book the size of a telephone book.
A. A. Will Co. was responsible for much of the early development along Turnpike St. (Route 138) and also for an area between Pleasant St. and Pine St. during the same time frame.
On January 17, 1963, the Canton Journal published a Notice of a public hearing for a meeting on February 5, 1963 at which the Planning Board would consider the change of the zoning of an 8.5 acre site from a General Residence Classification to Limited Industrial Classification. This property was situated on the southeasterly and northeasterly side of Will Drive as shown in a sketch that proposed the change and had first been unveiled in September of 1962. This Industrial Park would become one of the most controversial developments in the town and as this story is being written some 34 years later there are still many people in the town that wish another place for this industrial park had been found.
Will Drive has grown steadily and has a very diverse group of businesses North Street was also laid out and the easterly side of Pine Street began to grow as well.
The largest and best know of the businesses on Will Dr. is James Ferrera and Sons, Inc. -135 Will Dr. - distributors of food stuffs. At its present location since 1969, the company supplies grocery items to supermarkets throughout New England, with the exception of Vermont. This company has come under fire from neighbors over the years because of the traffic and noise in the area.
New England Insulation Co. / New England Abatement Resources, Inc.- 155 Will Dr., distributes insulation products to contractors, large commercial and industrial clients. It has been in Canton since the 1970’s.
Nidec America Corp. -152 Will Dr., a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Densan Corp. of Japan. It was founded by a small group of engineers in July of 1973 in the ancient capital of Kyoto, Japan. Their goal is to build a global company. In an effort to reach that end they purchased Power General a manufacturer of power supply products. It has occupied the Power General building since May of 1991 and expanded the operation to include cooling fans. Its products are used in the computer and telecommunication industries around the World. It also occupies the building at 45 North St. and use it for warehousing and distribution.
Share New England 146 Will Dr.- is a community service organization and food distribution cooperative. They have been in Canton for 6 years, employ 20 people full time and have a large staff of volunteers. They distribute 32,000 packages of food monthly to the public at large.
Industrial Die and Machine / SX, Industries - 142 Will Dr., has been in Canton since 1973, and manufactures metal stamped and die cast ornaments for the shoe, headwear, bookbinder, and garment industries. These items include snaps, rivets, buckles, eyelets, grommets, speed laces and many other specialty items.
E.M. Duggan, Inc. - 140 Will Dr., has been in business since 1891 and has been controlled by three generations of Duggans’. Edward M. Duggan began his plumbing business in South Boston. Before long Edward was joined by his son William and then Williams’ son Edward II joined them at age 11. All three generations worked together until Edward Sr. passed away in 1942 and William Sr. took over control. William Sr. passed away in 1948 leaving his son Edward II as president of the company at age 23. Edward remained president for 43 years and today is chairman of the board.
Shortly after Edward Sr. died the company moved to Canton and established itself in the basement of the family home at 103 Rockland St.
During Edward’s tenure, he redirected the focus of the company towards more commercial and industrial projects and the business grew from five employees to more than 120 today.
A site plan for the building on Will Drive was approved in November of 1968 and it has been in continuous operation at that location.
From this business grew others. Edward’s brother William established Republic Plumbing Supply and two of his sons operate Capeway Wholesale Plumbing and Heating.
A few of the notable projects that E. M. Duggan Company have worked on have been, The Fleet Center (the new Boston Garden), International Place phase 1 & 2, Harvard dormitories, The Old State House, Fanueil Hall Renovation, Childrens’ Hospital, Beth Israel, Brigham & Woman’s Hospital and Fan Pier Courthouse which is currently under construction.
Pierce Aluminum Co. - 136 Will Dr. - manufacturers and distributes aluminum products. The company has been on Will Dr. since 1967.
P L Electroplating - 118 Will Dr. - has been in Canton since 1980 and plates small metal parts for local businesses.
TEK Supply Co. - 112 Will Dr. - Specialists in high purity stainless steel piping components to the biomedical, pharmaceutical and medical industries.
North Street extends from the railroad tracks at the end of Will Dr. to Pine St. across from the landfill.
Master-Halco, Inc. - 55 North St. - has been in Canton since 1986. This company was founded in Medford, MA in 1892 as American Springbed manufacturing bedsprings. Gradually it changed from bedsprings to fencing. Today, it manufactures many types of fencing including galvanized, vinyl coated, and aluminum. It has branches around New England, Virginia and Michigan.
Emco Engineering, Inc., 25 North St. - has been in operation at this location since 1971. It designs, manufactures and services water and waste water treatment systems on a worldwide basis. The Canton location is its world headquarters but it has a sister company in Beirut, Lebanon.
It provide a wide variety of systems and custom design others to meet its clients needs. Its clients include municipalities and major industries, that include Orange County, California; Palm Beach, Florida and the Deer Island project in Boston.
Boston Copico - 55 North St. - services and sells photocopiers.
H.T. Berry, Co. Inc. - 50 North St. - warehouses and distributes paper goods of all types at this location and has been in operation since 1977.
Gonzo Corp. -30 A North St. - distributes cleaning products. Before moving to this location it was on University Rd.
Along Pine St. heading towards Stoughton are more industrial buildings including, Burgess Brothers, Inc. - 290 Pine St. - which designs and fabricates sheetmetal products. It provide milling, drilling, turning, grinding, and extrusion to meet any specification. It also has a plastics division and offer an effective assembly program. In business since 1948, it has call this location home since 1983.
Two other areas were changed to Limited Industrial, Industrial or Business during the same town meeting and drew little if any opposition. These areas were; the area between Revere Street, the railroad tracks, Lincoln Street and Lincoln Ave., which today has several firms.
Equal Exchange, 250 Revere Street is a Fair Trade Coffee wholesaler that distributes its products to the natural foods industry. The coffee is roasted at another location in Brockton and distributed from Canton. They have been at this location since October of 1995 and have 21 full time employees.
Bainbridge / Aquabatten, 270 Revere Street, is a textile converting company, specializing in sailcloth and other technically sophisticated recreational and industrial fabrics. The company was founded in 1917, incorporated in 1936 and became part of Dexter Corp. , a Fortune 500 company. In 1989, it was purchased by Mr. John D. Short and is privately held. They currently have offices in 11 countries and California and call canton their worldwide headquarters.
Rand Candy Co., distributes all kinds of candy throughout New England from its headquarters on Revere Street. They have been in Canton since 1991 and have 10 full time employees.
One of the other zoning changes in 1960 was on the land on Washington Street near the Stoughton line encompassing the entire area south of the power lines east of Washington Street.
Development of this area began shortly after the passage of the Article. A strip mall close to the road started as the First National Market, in the space that is today Cherry & Webb. Other spaces have been added over the years so that the mall extends up to Sharon St. in Stoughton.
Further back off the road is the Tri-town Mall. A large multi store structure which has contained many different retail shops over the years. Today the largest attraction is Shaw’s Market, a grocery store.
Across Washington Street are two separate strip malls that were built around the same time that the First National was built. The stores closest to the Sharon line contained Star Market at one time which was in direct competition with First National. Today, Osco Drug occupies that space and the other smaller stores are still very active.
The zoning change has made a dramatic impact on this part of town that can easily be seen and felt by anyone that goes there on a Saturday afternoon. Recent changes in the shopping habits of the people in the area and the loss of some of the major businesses in the Tri-Town Mall may cause more change in this area in the near future.
It is impossible for us to mention every business in the town today, the fact is that publicly traded multimillion dollar companies can be operated out of someone’s basement or from a two room office. We have not even touched upon the retail businesses that make up the center of town and some of the other areas.
Several of the other businesses or employers who have to be mentioned are the Massachusetts Hospital School on Randolph Street. They have been a major part of the town since the turn of the century and today they employ an estimated 360 people.
Canton currently has two weekly newspapers that are published in town. The Canton Citizen which was started in the late 1970’s and the Canton Journal which was founded in 1876 and who we are indebted to for much of historical information about Canton.
Another group of hard working, indispensable people who are regularly overlooked, are the estimated 600 people who are employed by the town in every possible capacity. They teach our children, protect our lives and homes and keep our streets clean.
The last industry we should recognize are the bankers. After all we would not have what it takes to do every job or to operate any business without finance. Canton has had many different banks over the years but two in particular have touched every person who lives or works in Canton.
THEY BANKED ON
Canton's oldest continuous business is the Bank of Canton, which for its first one hundred and fifty three years was known as the Canton Institution for Savings. In the winter of 1835 a few prominent Canton men along with some representatives of Sharon and Stoughton gathered at Bent's Tavern, now the site of the Post Office, to organize a corporation under the Mutual Savings Bank laws of Massachusetts. All savings banks were then called Institutions for Savings. The local bank was the twenty- sixth one established in the state, and the concept was still a relatively recent one. In fact the first such bank, the Provident Institution for Savings, had been founded in Boston in 1816.
The organizers of the Bank were Adam Kinsley who would later found Kinsley Iron and Machine Works; Friend Crane, driver of the stage to Boston, who lived in the house still standing on Washington Street opposite Neponset Street; Dr. Jonathan Stone whose office and home was in the antique cape now at the corner of Washington and Pleasant Streets; James Dunbar, who lived at the present site of Richard Lewis' store; Frederick W. Lincoln, nephew and adopted son of Paul Revere, who for forty years managed the Revere Copper Company; Leonard Everett, the proprietor of the Country Store, located where the Historical Society is today; Thomas Dunbar who lived at what is now 194 Washington Street; Elisha White from Chapman Street; Jedidiah Tucker from the York area; William McKendry and Elijah Spare from Ponkapoag; and Dr. Phineas Crane, son of General Elijah Crane, from Canton Village.
Adam Kinsley, Friend Crane, and Dr. Stone were selected to petition the General Court for the necessary legal enactment of incorporation. This measure was passed and approved by the Lieutenant Governor on March 4, 1835. On the first annual meeting on April 10, 1835 officers were elected as follows:
President: Thomas French, Vice Presidents: Friend Crane and Dr. Jonathan Stone, Trustees: Adam Kinsley, Elijah Spare, Joseph Downs, Samuel Davis, Simeon Presbrey, Dr. Phineas Crane, Thomas Dunbar, William McKendry and Jedidiah Tucker, Investment Committee: Jonathan Messinger, Frederick W. Lincoln, Leonard Everett, and Elisha White, Secretary and Treasurer. James Dunbar and Joseph Downs were made a committee to purchase an iron safe and books for the new Institution. The safe was obtained for $110.75.
The founding fathers all bore well-known Yankee names, which was not surprising given that Canton had a homogenous population with similar roots. The Yankee image of frugality, business acumen, and rugged honesty was not a bad one for a bank to carry. The descendants of the founders of 1835 would hold bank-based offices for decades to come. Even then the first immigrants were arriving to take jobs building the railroad and the Viaduct and laboring in the Copper Yard and the Iron Works. From the beginning there was a marked Revere influence on the bank, which was all to the good, because the Revere family was patriotic, successful and sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the newly arrived Americans.
The Canton of 1835 was world's apart from today's grid-locked suburban town. The then population of 1517 was fascinated by the construction of the $80,000 Viaduct which had begun in 1834 and would be completed in 1836. The town, while small, was a hub of manufacturing activity. To quote the historian Hayward "In this town there is a manufactory of bells of superior metal and sound; a steel furnace; two forges; two rolling mils; a turning mill and a factory for sheet lead. Also, three cotton mills, a woolen factory calculated to furnish 600,000 yards of cloth annually, three machine shops, and factories for satinet, thread, candle wick-yarn, cutlery and farming utensils." The combination of water power and the railroad made Canton a desirable location for such endeavors.
The town was starker and simpler in those days. The road running from Milton to Cobb’s Corner in Sharon was known as the Taunton Road; it would not be called Washington Street until 1840. The most compact settlement of homes was on Ponkapoag Hill, while Canton Centre, later known as Canton Corner, consisted of about a dozen dwellings. From the corner of Chapman Street and the Taunton Road south to present day Revere Street there were only nine homes and no side streets at all. There were only two clergymen resident in town, Orestes Brownson of the First Parish and John Tucker of the Orthodox Congregational.
The Bank started slowly with the first deposit being made on May 2, 1835 in the amount of $50. The first investment by the Trustees was the purchase of 15 shares of the North Bank of Boston on June 8 for $1500., and the first mortgage granted was on August 15th for $75. That year was a time of general prosperity in the country and in Canton, but by 1837 a national depression had started and factories and stores were closed, homes were without tenants and many were in poverty. The economic collapse lasted until 1842, but in spite of such adversity the Bank was profitable and slowly grew.
In 1837 the Bank moved from Bent's Tavern to a building known as the Old Stone School House. There it rented space from the Neponset Bank. By 1840 deposits were $15710, while net worth was less than $2000. In those early years the Bank established a policy that it has followed ever since of paying extremely competitive rates of interest to its depositors. This did not leave large surpluses to be plowed back to equity but it did create satisfied depositors.
In 1846 both the Institution and the Neponset Bank moved to a new location near the South Canton railroad depot where today's BayBank stands. There it remained for over fifty years until legislation was enacted that prohibited two competing banks from occupying the same building. Thus in 1899 the Institution moved across the street to 703 Washington Street in Poole's Block where Hughes Skate Shop is now. In 1903 expansion needs required a move to the Flood Block which was also known as the Post Office Block. This is where the Richard Lewis store is now. Finally in 1927 the Bank bought property and constructed its present attractive building which was dedicated on February 4, 1928.
The Bank has continued to grow and serve its community. In recent years a separate Loan Center was erected, and in 1994 a substantial addition to the main building was completed. The Canton Institution for Savings became the Bank of Canton on July 22, 1988. Today the Bank has grown to over $145,000,000 in deposits and $15,000,000 in surplus, and has an organization in place for future growth through community service.
The Chairmen of the board in recent years were David Packard and John E. Fish. Charles W. Pinkham has occupied the position since 1987.
The Presidents of the Bank:
Thomas French 1835-1843
Thomas Dunbar 1843-1845
Frederick W. Lincoln 1845-1852
Charles H. French 1852-1889
Charles Endicott 1889-1899
Charles H. French 1899-1900
Willis S. Shepard 1900-1910
Francis D. Dunbar 1911-1934
William B. Revere 1934-1948
James P. Lynch 1948-1952
Charles K. Endicott 1952-1969
John E. Fish 1969-1975
Ralph C. Jackson 1975-1987
James D. Egan 1987-
Material for this history is based on an address to the Canton Historical Society in 1935 by Michael F. Ward. J. Wesley Rawding was also of great aid in the research.
Today many Americans are concerned over the effects of so much bigness in our economy. Local retailers are being driven out of business by national chains; financial institutions are becoming national in scope; a so-called world economy puts every wage earner's job in jeopardy as companies quickly pull up stakes to find a lower cost manufacturing base elsewhere. All this has made our citizens lives insecure, and many families do not know how to cope with these enormous sea changes in our society.
Well, similar problems existed a century ago when working people often felt crushed by savage and uncontrolled capitalism. But there was a difference, for many Americans did something about their plight. They organized to protect themselves and to gain some security. Midwestern farmers whose produce had to be shipped at exorbitant freight rates formed granges to fight the monopolistic railroads and voted in state rate-setting commissions. Laborers organized unions; even poor immigrants started burial societies. The watch word for the times was "co-operation". If folks co-operated with one another, oppression could be combated, living standards could be raised and all citizens could have a better life.
Farmers began agricultural co-operatives for growing, marketing and shipping their produce. Tenement dwellers in New York formed housing co-operatives where the benefits of home ownership could be shared. Social reformers of the day encouraged the co-operative movement and saw it as a middle ground between socialism and uninhibited capitalism. Often co-ops were regional in nature and some came to exist only in certain sections of America.
One aspect of the movement were the co-operative banks of Massachusetts which were and still are a local phenomenon. The first such bank was started in 1877 and others quickly followed. The founders were a group of men interested in sharing and investing their personal resources to help others in their community gain home ownership. A prime reason for being was to promote such home equity among low and moderate income residents. In the Louisiana of the 1930's Governor Huey Long had a program to make "every man a king". The appeal of the co-operative banks was to make "every tenant a home owner". Home ownership is a dream of all Americans, and it was especially important to immigrants and first generation Americans , who made up a large part of Canton's population in 1891.
Co-operative banks operated in the following manner. Say in 1891 a wage earner wanted to build a home, and he had only enough money ($300) to buy the lot. He could go to a co-operative bank and borrow $1400, for example, a realistic cost for new home construction then. For his part the borrower would give a mortgage on the new house and also purchase seven shares of co-operative bank stock, each share valued at $1.00. Every month he would pay the bank one dollar per share or a total of $12 per month or $84 per year. With the bank investing the payments, each of these shares over a twelve year period would be worth $200 apiece or $1400 in total. The home owner would thereby redeem the shares and get a release on his mortgage.
It was simply a forced way of savings. The monthly bank payments were rarely if ever delinquent because the home owner viewed them as a near sacred obligation. This home financing scheme was a precursor to the later Savings and Loan Associations and was similar to the Building Societies found in England. From the standpoint of co-operation the banks were somewhat like later credit unions, except that the co-operatives always paid taxes.
In 1890 a group of Canton men led by E. B. Thorndike, publisher and editor of the Canton Journal, Joseph W. Wattles, Jr., a local manufacturer, and retailer James E. Grimes met to form such a lending institution. On the second Tuesday of February 1891 the bank received its charter and opened for business on February 12th in the Selectmen's Room on the first floor of Canton's Town Hall. Prior to the opening publisher Thorndike, without a second thought, ran laudatory editorials extolling the merits of co-operative banking. He predicted that such a bank in Canton would create a home building boom which would raise real estate values and thus lower taxes. Little wonder then that Thorndike was elected as the first President, while Wattles was named as Treasurer. It should be noted, however, that in New England banks at the time the post of Treasurer was the key executive position.
The Bank began in a modest manner and ran a thrifty but profitable operation. The first loan was made to a Mr. and Mrs. McArdle for $600 which they repaid in a year's time. Expenses that first year were under $20 with no personnel costs being charged. For the first ten years in business the meeting place continued to be the Selectmen's rooms for which a one dollar a month rent was paid.
Wattles served as Treasurer from 1891 to 1900 at which time he became President with James Grimes as the next Treasurer. Jimmy Grimes was a handsome, dapper little man who was a leader in the town particularly in the Irish-American community. He and his brother had a shoe store downtown. Grimes was to be the Bank Treasurer for nearly forty years until 1940 when he reached eighty-five years of age. He would proudly boast that he had never missed a Directors' meeting in over fifty years.
Grimes and the Bank were one and the same entity to many Canton residents be they depositors or borrowers. One reason for this was that on January 29, 1901 the Bank's meeting place was relocated to the Grimes Brothers Shoe Store on Washington Street in what is now Dr. Rapoport's building. One hears of businesses being started on a shoe string, and that was nearly literally the case here as customers could do their bank transactions and also buy shoes from the genial proprietor.
The Bank moved to more spacious quarters in the same building on May 1, 1932 and was now on the corner of Washington and Rockland Streets. Grimes then gave up his shoe establishment to concentrate solely on his Treasury and general management responsibilities. Despite the Great Depression of the 1930's the Bank grew on a profitable basis.
Records of the Bank's infant years are not available, but it is known that John Estey was President from 1929 to 1934 and was followed by Fred Bisbee who served until 1942. Roger J. Baldwin was named to succeed Grimes as Treasurer in February 1940. By then the Bank had grown so that a permanent cadre of staff was necessary. One of these was Catherine Walsh Hollister who graciously furnished much information on the middle years of the Bank. Her husband, Dick, has been a long-time director of the Coop.
The Bank's assets at the end of its first full year in 1892 were $11,000; on its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1916 they had reached $567,000, and on its golden anniversary in 1941 they were $1,088,000.
The expansion in financing in the post-World War II years caused the Bank to require new and larger quarters, and on May 29, 1950 it opened a new office in a new building built to its specifications on the corner of Neponset and Washington Streets. Wadsworth Winslow was by then the President, replacing Fred Bisbee who died in 1942. Winslow served until his own death in 1951. Eliot C. French was President from 1952 to 1965 when he was succeeded by civic leader and long-time Director, Nathaniel Wentworth, who in 1974 became the first Chairman of the Board. Nat was one of the founders of the Blue Hill Regional School and came from a Canton family that had been well regarded since Colonial times.
The Directors of the Bank have always represented diverse elements of the community, and this has been one of the strengths of the enterprise. In addition to a courteous and helpful staff, the Bank for decades had two notable conveyancing attorneys, Winifred Ward and Joseph G. Galligan, Jr. It is interesting to note that in the first half century of the Bank, several men were at the same time both on the board of the Co-operative and the Canton Institution for Savings.
Further expansion required larger facilities and in 1979 the Bank moved to its present modern building. This is a 10,000 square facility on the site of the former Judge Grover House and was constructed by J. P. Donahue Company at a cost of $250,000
Alan Holbrook , the present Chief Executive Officer, was elected Treasurer in 1967, President in 1974 and Chairman of the Board after Nat Wentworth's death in 1993. Deborah Kreusch has been the President since 1993
The bank celebrated its 106th birthday in February and continues to serve the community in an efficient, profitable and compassionate manner. Assets today are over $70,000,000 supported by a $8,000,000 equity foundation. It has fulfilled its co-operative mission, and its present officers and directors are proud of their heritage.