Skinner Silk Talk

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Date: November 5, 2012
Contact: Shera Cohen, (413) 734-8551 x234

SPRINGFIELD, MA:"Skinner Silk: A Look at 19th Century Industrial Holyoke" will be the topic of a program at Springfield Armory National Historic Site. The one-hour talk on William Skinner, his family, and flourishing silk manufacturing business in Holyoke will take place on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 1:30pm. Penni Martorell, Curator of Collections at Wistariahurst Museum, is the guest speaker. The program is FREE.

According to Park Ranger Jennifer Zazo, the relationship between Skinner's company and Springfield Armory is direct. "Our goal in presenting this program is to emphasize the Armory's prominent role in manufacturing for 174 years, and early companies just like Skinner benefitted from the development and creative mechanization processes begun at the Armory," she said.

In 1874, at the height of the industrial revolution in America, William Skinner moved to Holyoke and grew his family-owned corporation in silk making. Skinner's work received local, national, and international recognition, and Holyoke shined as a thriving industrial city.

What made Skinner's silk business so successful? Martorell explains William Skinner's entrepreneurship in the context of the times. Skinner's personal life, his home-turned-museum Wistariahurst, and the Skinner family's significant role in philanthropy have left lasting effects upon Holyoke.

William Skinner Manufacturing Company boasted locations, not only in Holyoke, but in Boston, New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

In addition to Martorell's position at Wistariahurst, she is also the official historian for the City of Holyoke. She received her BA in Art History from Mt. Holyoke College and an MLS in Archives Management from Simmons College.

In a reciprocal relationship, Zazo will present the program, "The Creative Minds of Springfield Armory" on Monday, November 19 at 6:00pm at Wistariahurst Museum as part of their fall lecture series, "Innovators and Inventors of the Pioneer Valley."

Springfield Armory National Historic Site commemorates and preserves the site of our Nation's first armory, established in 1794. The site is open daily, 9am-5pm. Admission is free. For information call 413-734-8551 or check


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square
Suite 2

Springfield, MA 01105


(413) 734-8551

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