Silk mill employed 80 weavers

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

By Staff
We are continuing the history written by Ethel Holmes in 1934.
In the fall of 1929 Messrs. Reiback and Mandall of New York began the operation of the Brewton Silk Mill with about 80 weavers. The attractive building is situated across from a grove of trees on the northern end of Mill Street. The building was designed by northern architects who were insistent on the strength of the building. The steel beams that support the roof are said to be nearly strong enough to run a locomotive across the top of the building.
An interesting feature about this building is the floor. A cement floor was put down and then a tar and roofing material, which has a cement course on top of it. On the finished cement floor is a pine floor with a maple floor on top of it, which is very smooth. This is necessary for weaving fine goods, for no kind of floor defect will be found to injure the cloth as it goes through the looms. (Brewton Trade Record, Nov. 1929, p. 1)
The windows in this building differ from those in most manufactured buildings. The space on each side is used for ventilated windows and all around the building, on the upper section; there is a second story of revolving windows. Because of all these windows, there is no need for artificial light to work by in the daytime. (Brewton Trade Record, Nov. 1929, p. 1)
The mill employs approximately 160 persons and has a weekly payroll of almost $3,000. More than 125 different machines are used in the mill. It represents an investment of $200,000 and has become one of the city’s outstanding industries. It has taken into consideration all angles of labor and production. Recreation for employees is had in the form of tennis courts and a swimming pool is planned. (Brewton Standard, May 5, 1931, p. 6)
The Brewton Iron Works, having efficiently served southern mills and people for 30 years, has made a widespread reputation for itself and has carried Brewton’s name throughout the nation. Lovelace Lumber Company purchased the firm from Castell and McArdle in 1903. At that time it was located near its present site. The new owners installed new equipment, bought the new models and patterns up to date and immediately started to rendering a service of accuracy and efficiency. In 1918 W.F. Wilson purchased the entire interest in the plant. The present 90 by 120 foot building was erected in 1927 because business had become so great that the new quarters were necessitated. Making a specialty of welding, boiler work, pattern work and maintaining a complete stock of mill supplies, equipment for axy-acetylene and electric, the firm has attracted attention of mills and manufacturing plants within a radius of 200 miles. It caters especially to silk mills, saw mills, veneer mills and lumber mills. The firm employs and average of 12 men and has employed as high as 30. As president and manager, Mr. Wilson is assisted by his son, Earle Wilson, who is secretary and sales manager.
Mr. Wilson was born in 1872 in Denmark. He was educated in the schools of that nation and came to the United States in 1888, locating at Pensacola. Mr. Wilson in 1900 became affiliated with the Montgomery Iron Works, going to Greenville to take charge of the same kind of work. In 1903 he moved to Mobile where he established the Bay City Machine Works. In 1903 he came to Brewton where he has operated the Brewton Iron Works since.
Nest week we get to another business as it pertained to the county.

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