View of the Pacific Mills at Central Square, circa 1920 – 90 Washington St
In its heyday during the late 1880s, the mill complex known as the “Quadrangle” employed over 2000 people (2/3 women) who operated 2800 looms and 140,000 spindles, producing over 65 million yards of cotton cloth annually in nearly 30 acres of manufacturing space in downtown Dover. Another 500 people, mostly men, worked at the world-renowned Cocheco Print Works (now the site of Henry Law Park), printing colorful patterns and designs on the finished cotton.
In 1909, the Pacific Mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts purchased the Cocheco Manufacturing Company and renamed the facility as shown. Business declined greatly after the turn of the century and the Pacific Mills tore down the printery complex in 1913. All manufacturing operations ceased for good in 1937. The City of Dover purchased the empty mill complex at auction for $54,000 in 1940. They were the sole bidder for the property.
At the very left in this picture is the Strafford Banks building, constructed in 1895 of pink granite and called the “fortress of finance.” At the right side is the Cochecho Block of stores and businesses, built in 1832. The steeple in the background is St. John’s Methodist Church, and the trolley tracks in the square belong to the Dover, Somersworth, and Rochester Street Railway (begun originally as a horse railway in 1882) which ran until 1926. The D,S, & R was affectionately known as the Damn, Slow, and Rough!
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