They still physically dominate our downtown. They still influence our business community, our traffic patterns, and our commercial and residential development. They still affect our urban vibrancy and livability. And they still proudly stand as a symbol of Dover’s industrial heritage, even almost eight decades after they closed.
They are the mills at the center of our town, perched over the Cochecho River and its Falls, the brick factories which began as the nascent Dover Cotton Factory, matured into the flourishing Dover Manufacturing Company, grew to become the renowned and highly prosperous Cocheco Manufacturing Company and Print Works, and sputtered to an inglorious close as the Pacific Mills.
Along the way, from their beginnings in 1812 to their demise in 1937, both astounding and abysmal events occurred in these mills including the first strike by women in the United States (1828), a worldwide calico operation that printed 65 million yards of fabric annually during the 1880s, industrial spying, “dung baths”, waves of immigrants, and some disastrous fires and floods. The mills shaped not only the generations of people who worked there, but also the civic direction and economic development of the City of Dover.
If you would like to know more about the history of these massive structures which have truly made Dover “Dover”, you are invited to the Dover Public Library on Monday, November 21 at 7pm for a talk and slide show by Library Director Cathy Beaudoin which will explore the cotton mills’ rollicking saga in our city. The lecture is free. For more information, please contact the Dover Public Library at 603-516-6050.