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Biddeford Mills Museum

Laconia Picker House, Biddeford, 2015

Contributed by Biddeford Mills Museum
MMN Item 104179 Item Details
Laconia Picker House, Biddeford, 2015
MMN Item 104179 Zoom


Around 1845, the Saco Water Power Company built the four-story Laconia Company Picker House, later known as Mill 16.

Located in the center of the Laconia complex, workers at the Picker House prepared cotton through various processes for the spinning room. First, they opened compressed cotton bales and pulled layers that were dropped into chutes in back of the picker machines. Second, the picker machines removed small twigs and tiny pieces of leaves from the cotton and produced lap rolls. Third, the lap rolls were sent to the carding machine, which consisted of multiple drums with fine wire brushes. The carding machine gave the cotton a second and final cleaning. After going through the carding machine, the thin cotton strands were called "slivers". The slivers were loaded into cans which were sent to the draw frame to make the fibers stronger for the the spinning mills.

The Pepperell Blanket Division moved from Lowell, Massachusetts to Biddeford in 1928, and the company converted building Mill 16 into a blanket finishing mill. WestPoint Pepperell used building Mill 16 for blanket production until 1970, when they sold the Blanket Division to Sunbeam Corporation.

After the sale, building Mill 16 became a warehouse. In early 1980 the accessory and drapery operations were moved from Mill 13-2 to the two top floors of Mill 16. The two lower floors of Mill 16 were used to store the cartons for the accessory and drapery division.

In 1988 the accessory and drapery operation was moved to Florida. Mill 16 once again became a warehouse until 2009, when WestPoint Home Inc. closed the plant down, and Mill 16 became a vacant mill.

Mill 16 was razed in 2016 to provide parking area for new business and apartment tenants in the renovated mill complex.

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