Historic Structures

Merrill Silk Mill, Hornell New York

Date added: May 27, 2021 Categories: New York Industrial Mill

The Merrill Silk Mill Complex was built in 1900 by Fredrick P. Merrill, President of the Merrill Silk Company.

During the early 1890's, F. P. Merrill made a trip to Europe to purchase looms. While in Europe, he developed a partnership agreement with Peter Huguet who returned with Fredrick Merrill to America. Together, they first built a textile mill on Thatcher Street, known as the Merrill-Field Company, which in 1901 began producing chiffon and other silk textile products.

In 1900 Fredrick Merrill began construction of the Merrill Silk Mill Complex at 233 Canisteo Street, Hornell, New York, which covered the block between Canisteo, Pleasant, Spruce and Grand Streets. The Mill began operations on September 29, 1902. Operations at the plant included the weaving, knitting and dying of silk cloth and gloves.

By 1915 the Merrill Silk Company, with operations in Hornell, New York, Corning, New York and Wellsville, New York, was manufacturing silk gloves, glove linings, hosiery and lingerie.

By 1920 Fredrick Merrill had expanded his operations which included another manufacturing plant in Hornell, known as the Merrill Hosiery Company, located on Bank Street.

In 1920, Fredrick P. Merrill died. At that time, he was the Treasurer of both the Merrill Silk Company (Canisteo St.) and the Merrill Hosiery Company (Bank St.) Charles Adset was President of the Merrill Hosiery Company and Vice-President of the Merrill Silk Company.

By 1923 the Merrill Silk Company had expanded to include operations in Hornell, New York, Corning, New York, Wellsville, New York and Dunkirk, New York.

By 1931 the Merrill Silk Company's operations had been reduced to plants in Hornell and Dunkirk. Products included the manufacturing of silk and nylon underwear, (lingerie) and silk and cotton gloves.

In 1932 the Merrill Silk Company plant on Canisteo Street closed down, until 1939. However, operations at the Merrill Hosiery plant on Bank Street continued until the fall of 1977 when that plant finally closed.

In 1939 the Canisteo Street complex was purchased at a bankruptcy sale by Hornell Industries. This Company reopened the complex and operated the plant as a dying and printing establishment until 1943, at which time the firm moved to Mexico.

The Canisteo Street complex was then acquired by the Chapman Transmission Company, which manufactured motor vehicle transmissions at this facility for several years.

Later, in 1961, the complex was acquired by the Hornell Development Company and the facilities were used primarily as warehouse space for a wholesale grocery company and a beekeeper.

In 1978 the complex was purchased by the City of Hornell for the purpose of demolition because the complex, due to neglect and lack of maintenance, became dilapidated, and unsafe.

In August, 1979, the City of Hornell prepared a marketing brochure and sought proposals from prospective developers in order to determine the feasibility of rehabilitating or renovating the building complex. However, after two months of advertising, there were no proposals. The buildings, therefore, were scheduled for demolition.