The Amoskeag Textile Club
Throughout this blog series, I’ve learned the impact of Amoskeag Manufacturing Company on not only the economy and landscape of Manchester, but also the culture. As always, the Manchester Historic Association’s archives led me to the Amoskeag Textile Club.
In a piece written by Alan M. Schwartz, he explains the Textile Club’s beginning and their mission:
A group of Amoskeag officials in 1911 established the Textile Club to provide workers with social, cultural, and athletic activities while striving to improve the relationship between employers and employees. The club, whose major income came from sales of cloth remnants and ready-made suits, by 1914 had a membership of 400. Most members were overseers, second hands, or office personnel. A far greater number of Amoskeag workers attended the club’s athletic events and outings. Other club-sponsored activities included athletic teams, speakers, social concerns, film presentations, a glee club, a dramatic society, photography lessons, and a hunting and fishing club. The club also operated a library and a school offering classes in textiles, office skills, and auto repairs.
In the photographs below you can see some of these activities including: a cooking class, clay pigeon shooting, sewing class, parade floats, and numerous sporting events.
The Amokseag Mills were not unionized and the owners wanted to avoid it becoming so. In other words, “The company hoped to find a way to “Americanize” its workforce, thereby giving workers a stronger connection to the company and to the United States, and to find diversionary activities to keep them from unionizing in their free time. Baseball seemed an ideal solution.” In keeping up with their mission of benevolence, Amoskeag began construction in 1913 on Textile Field, which is now known as Gill Stadium.
The Textile Field/Gill Stadium grandstand was designed by Amoskeag engineers and constructed of brick, in the style and color of the mills in Amoskeag’s millyard. For safety, concrete ramps were constructed along the sides and rear of the grandstand and steel trusses and posts to support the roof. Although portions of the roof, floor, and some of the posts supporting the seating platform were of wood, publications from the period of construction–including the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company’s employee newspaper, the Amoskeag Bulletin–considered it a “fireproof” concrete-and-steel grandstand like those being constructed in major-league cities between 1909 and 1915.
While Textile Field was a success in its construction, some historians believe it is important to keep in mind that this all was an “experiment” of sorts. As we know by now, in 1922, Amsokeag employees unionized, went on strike, and Amoskeag was never the same; eventually closing in 1935. The city bought the stadium in 1927. Two years ago, 2013, was the stadium’s 100th year anniversary.
All pictures courtesy of the
Manchester Historic Association