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[graphic header] A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
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[graphic] Lehigh Valley Silk Mills


[photo]
Street view of Lehigh Valley Silk Mills
Photograph by Sue Pridemore

The Lehigh Valley Silk Mills consisted of two firms, the Lipps & Sutton Silk Mill, which was one of the first silk mills built in the Lehigh Valley, constructed between 1886 and 1904, and the Warren Mill constructed in 1895. The complex is of red brick vernacular construction and represents the variety of local silk mill architecture. By 1920 the Lehigh Valley, which includes the three major cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, had become the second most important silk producing region in the nation. The area was surpassed in silk production only by Paterson, New Jersey. The iron, steel, and cement industries were indirectly responsible for the development of the silk and textile industries in the Lehigh Valley. Workers coming from Southern and Central Europe who were willing to work for low wages in these basic heavy industries also brought with them knowledge of the skills in the textile arts (spinning, weaving, and sewing). The region's location near Eastern markets was also important in the growth of the textile industry. The Warren Mill is devoid of ornamentation, while the Lipps & Sutton Mill, designed by locally prominent architect A. W. Leh, has distinctive decorative features that include small corbeled corner turrets with pyramidal pinnacles of sheet metal. The Lehigh Valley Silk Mills operation was one of the major silk mill complexes in the Lehigh Valley region. In 1918 the Lehigh Valley Silk Mills included Warren Mill, Lloyd Mills, and Williamsburg Mills, had 50,000 spindles and six boilers, and employed 600 workers; although it is not clear if these figures are for Warren Mill alone or the three mentioned mills together. Lehigh Valley Silk Mills ended in bankruptcy in 1937. It was recently renovated and received a federal historic preservation tax credit. The Silk Mills are now private residences and the govenment offices for the Fountain Hill borough.

Lehigh Valley Silk Mills are located on Seneca and Clewell Sts., in Fountain Hill borough. The borough offices are open during normal business hours.


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