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Elizabeth Boit House

Elizabeth Boit House Elizabeth Boit House

Elizabeth Boit
Photographs courtesy of the Wakefield Historical Commission.

Elizabeth Boit (1849-1932), businesswoman

Elizabeth Boit, a successful textile manufacturer, built this house in 1910. Born in 1848, she was a founder of the Harvard Knitting Mills which played a key role in Wakefield’s economy from 1889 well into the 20th century. Boit handled the business side of manufacturing at the mills, using her practical, working-class background as a factory timekeeper, forewoman, and superintendent at the Allston Mills. Working conditions in textile mills across the country in the late 19th century were, for the most part, deplorable. Usually working 10 hour days, 6 days a week, laborers handled dangerous equipment that was rarely monitored by supervisors. Company-provided health care and vacation and sick leave were unheard of at the time Boit started Harvard Knitting Mills. Providing health care in the factory and an innovative bonus plan which shared the company’s profits with its employees, Boit became a pioneer in improving working conditions in factories. With her success in the textile industry, she was asked to serve as director of a local bank and built this impressive home, a reflection of her status in the community. Elizabeth Boit was one of the first women to break into management in the male-dominated textile industry, and was the first woman in the country to serve as a bank director. She set a lasting example for other textile industry executives by improving the working conditions of her employees.

The Elizabeth Boit House is located at 127 Chestnut Street in Wakefield, MA. The property is not open to the public.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST