In 2011 I was commissioned to photograph a textile mill in Webster, MA that had been scheduled for demolition. Cranston Print Works — the company that acquired the mill in 1936 — stopped all production in its Webster division in 2009, unable to withstand a shrinking market and the competitive prices offered by larger companies that were already outsourcing fabric production.
Built in 1812, the mill was owned and operated by Samuel Slater, the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution.” When I first visited the mill, it was an empty shell. It had been gutted of most of its machinery and the silence added to the eeriness of being in a place that I knew was about to be torn down. In a way, visiting that mill felt a lot like meeting someone on their death bed.
When it was demolished in 2012, they paved over 200 years of history in preparation for a new shopping center. The demolition of the historic mill was a grim sign of the times: that an industry that once shaped this region of the country no longer has any business doing business on our own shores.