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Roosevelt Mills, Rockville: A Profile
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Roosevelt Mills, 1941-1988 

Roosevelt Mills: A Brief Profile

 

The manufacturing company began in 1941, when three partners pooled $500, purchased machinery, and opened a knitting mill in Manchester, Connecticut. The new business, Manchester Knitting Mills, produced sweaters. Within a few years, the company, needing more space, moved to a new location in Manchester.

 

By 1951, the company needed still more manufacturing space. Fortunately, the 1906 Minterburn Mill, at the head of the Hockanum River, was available due to the demise of the woolen industry in Rockville. The company, now known as Roosevelt Mills, leased one floor of the five story Minterburn Mill. In 1968 the company purchased the building and ultimately expanded until the manufacturing occupied the whole building.

 

Many of the employees working at the plant in Manchester, who lived as far away as Bristol, CT, travelled the extra distance to continue working for the company. Training on the job was necessary for all employees since there was no other way to learn the operations of sweater manufacturing. Roosevelt Mills became a major employer in Rockville. The size of the workforce varied, but averaged 175 employees.

 

Roosevelt Mills maintained a sales office in New York City. Sales were made to major retail chains, such as J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, and others. A separate corporate entity, Mill Outlet Stores using the Roosevelt Mills' name, was established to sell the company's products in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

 

Roosevelt Mills was committed to Rockville, weathering foreign competition and resisting the industry trend to move to the South to cut labor costs. Several inventions to improve knitting machines were patented by the company. The manufacturing process was streamlined for maximum efficiency. At peak production the mill could make 12,000 sweaters per week.

 

In 1986, Roosevelt Mills was sold to a new owner. The new owner, an absentee, did not have the same commitment to the community and the employees as the founders. Within two years, the mill was closed.  Now vacant, it awaits renovation.

 

Roosevelt Mills was a major employer in Rockville. Its products were sold across the nation. The company was noted in the knitwear industry for being innovative and progressive. Founded in 1941 with minimal capitalization, the company succeeded in expanding and becoming an industry leader. 

 

We are currently working on a history of Roosevelt Mills. If you are a former employee or the descendant of a former employee, we would like to hear from you. We are seeking reminiscences, examples of company product, and photographs.

Click to enlarge
rmimay1986.jpg
Roosevelt Mills, May 1986

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