TOWN OF DUDLEY

Massachusetts

Historical Commission

Dudley Municipal Complex

71 West Main Street ē Room 207

Dudley, MA 01571

Edward Bazinet, Chairman

Michael Branniff, Secretary††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††††††††††††††† Louise Wieloch

†††††††† †††††††††††††† Frederick Meyer

††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Joseph Antos

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Elaine Martin††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††

Phone 508-949-8004

Fax. 508-949-7115

 

 

 

April 16, 2013

Ms. Brona Simon, SHPO & Executive Officer

Massachusetts Historical Commission

220 Morrissey Boulevard

Boston, Massachusetts 02125-3314

 

Re: Dudley Historical Commission Supports Stevens LLCíS Historical Rehabilitation Tax credit Application.

 

Dear Ms. Simon:

 

The Stevens Linen operation was the conception and realization of one man.Even today his single handed establishment of the American Linen manufactory and his contribution to its success and longevity command profound respect.†† Henry Hale Stevens was a scion of the Stevenís familyís Andover textile empire. Mr. Stevens was physically, an extremely diminutive man.His wife Eliza was 4 feet 8 inches tall, but a woman of commanding character and presence. His cousin, Isaac I. Stevens, was a near dwarf, who surmounted his time and place, and graduated from West Point in 1839, survived wounds in the Mexican war, only to fall at the head of his attacking division at Chantilly Va., in 1862. An examination of their lives reveal ability, determination and courage.None more so than H. H. Stevens.

 

His iconic signature mill, the product of his middle age, is an unsurpassed combination of elegance and utility. Successful beyond all the expectation of his peers; Mr. Stevens lavished his fortune on the construction of his new mill.Due to a business downturn, and his construction costs, he lost control of the new mill soon after the civil war and remained as agent for the new owners. Mr. Stevens was not afraid to push against the outer edge of possibility.A small man with large dreams and a willingness to dare greatly; he lives in our community because of the scale of his dreams and accomplishments. His mill is a constant sentinel to his memoryMr. Stevens retired and left Dudley in 1877.He spent the rest of his days in peripatetic travel across the face of America.

 

By 1890 the Stevens Linen Works was back under the control of Mr. Stevensís younger brother, Moses T. Stevens. In providing industrial statistics for a Boston directory of that year, mill officials boasted of the singular results of the legendary prodigality that H. H. Stevens lavished on his enterprise.Recounting the existence of company offices in Boston, Philadelphia and New York, and 400 operatives in steady employ, housed in an incomparable structure, with an annual production of 7,000,000 yards of linen; they stated it was enough to cross the Atlantic Ocean with some to spare.The Stevens Linen Works continued in business for another one hundred and ten years.It was the consistent economic bread winner for Dudley and surrounding towns and its absolute salvation on a number of occasions.

 

 

Henry Hale Stevens died of cancer in Kissimmee Fl. in 1901, attended by a few local friends, in a boarding house. He was buried in Jacksonville, Fl., in a plot he purchased for himself some eight years before. That cemetery is now greatly vandalized and the haunt of a drug subculture.The location of his remains and his gravestone has vanished in squalor and are now lost to history.

 

Time and changing circumstance have finally brought the long run of his visionary enterprise to an end.

 

His true monument is the endangered, but still magnificent edifice, his vision and courage enabled.

 

The equally visionary mill conversion plan of Stevens LLC, and their application for Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits continues to be strongly endorsed by the Dudley Historical Commission.The conversion of this now empty mill to 165 units of rental apartments is a fitting continuation of the relationship of the town to this bedrock of our community; and it offers the promise of success at every level.

 

The program you administer was created for just such opportunities for positive intervention, and we commend it to you as worthy of your vigorous support.

 

Thank you for your attention.

Michael Branniff

 

 

Secretary

Dudley Historical Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

cc††† Preservation Massachusetts

†††††† 45 Old City Hall 4th Floor

†††††† Boston, Massachusetts, 02108

†††††† Attn: Erin D. A. Kelly

†††††† Assistant Director

 

 

 

†††††† National Trust for Historic Preservation

†††††† 7 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4th Floor

†††††† Boston, Massachusetts, 02109

†††††† Attn: Rebecca Williams

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

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