A very little known fact about West Concord is that back in the mid-1800’s the town was called Factory Village. It was so named, because of the construction of the the Damon Mill, which was the first of many mills that were to be built in, what came to be known as Concord Junction, and then renamed West Concord, as it is known today.
By 1890, along came the Boston Harness Company, followed by the Bluine Factory in 1895, and then The Allen Chair Factory in 1905. It was a fine illustration of a local entrepreneurship, paving the way for industrial development from outside of town.
The factory is now the best surviving illustration of the importance of the railroad attracting industry to “Concord Junction.” A loading dock along the railroad tracks originally ran the length of the complex, as the company depended on freight service for receiving supplies and shipping its furniture.
The Allen Chair Company was run by three generations of Allens (all named Charles) and employed 80 people at their height. They became the Allen Chair Corporation in 1931.
They built three large buildings to house the factory and steam power plant (in fact, the steam from their boilers powered the Junction’s fire signal for years). With the onset of the Great Depression, stories are told of local people picking up the trimmings and bark from the Allen Chair company to heat their homes and if they were lucky they also found lumps of coal that had fallen down from the passing trains.
The Allen Chair Company employed many immigrants who were of Belgian and Italian extraction who came to work during the war years. In fact, when World War I came, they made many wooden cots for the troops. They manufactured a variety of chair designs over its 40-year history, including Mission and Arts and Crafts styles, and box-seat dining chairs. It was best known for its oak “Bank of England” chair found in courtrooms throughout the country. They also forayed into the office and school furniture business and made many thousand desks and chairs from birch and oak.
The Factory was bought by the Finley Furniture Company in the mid-1950’s, and subsequently owned by the Bradford Furniture Company which sold furniture retail. From then on the Bradford Mill has been a home to a diverse mix of companies, craft shops, and art studios.
In 2010, John and Johanna Boynton bought the property and commenced a comprehensive restoration. modernizing the Mill inside and out. The site work - including creation of green and garden spaces - was completed in 2013. One of the buildings was fitted with roof mounted solrar arrays, and there are further plans to generate a substantial portion of the entire Mill's electricity demand from solar power by installing solar batteris on the other two Mill buildings. These old buildings will be well-equipped for a second century of activity!