Upon founding the Silver Spring Bleaching & Dyeing Company in 1864, Henry Lippitt and Charles Merriman purchased the buildings at 387 Charles Street, near Silver Spring Street, in addition to the land and water rights to the former Frieze and Dow’s Bleachery. Frieze and Dow’s had garnered a high reputation throughout the industry for the extraordinary whiteness of its goods, a quality many locals attributed to the extraordinarily clear water of a nearby spring and the nearby West River. Silver Spring Bleaching & Dyeing profited from the success of its predecessor and by 1897 had expanded its business considerably, adding cloth printing to its operations. At its height, the company employed almost 600 workers. In 1905, the United States Finishing Company, a prominent textile combine which also owned the Queen Dyeing Company, purchased the Silver Spring complex where the company operated until the 1950s.
The complex consisted of 1-, 2-, and 3-story, flat roof, brick mill structures, several of which had low gable roofs with clerestory monitors and corbel cornices. At the south end of the complex, a 2-story, brick, flat-roof structure with segmental arch windows originally housed the company offices. Prominently situated on Charles Street, the Silver Spring Company largely drove the physical and social development of the surrounding neighborhood. Many credited the company with having brought diversity to the area in the form of a vibrant immigrant population. Several of the homes that line Charles and other adjacent streets formerly housed company employees.
In 2000, several of the small businesses occupying the former Silver Spring mill complex were ordered to vacate the structure. The site was slated for a future Home Depot. In response to that threat, PPS included the Silver Spring complex on its 2000 Most Endangered Properties list.
LOST: The battle to save the Silver Spring Bleaching and Dyeing Company ended in 2001 when the City consented to Home Depot’s proposed demolition of the historic mill complex.
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