Cheney Brothers to be recognized at American Manufacturing Hall of Fame
It was a silk mill in the 1800s that the Cheney Brothers invested in which would eventually become a prosperous manufacturing facility and take on the family name. The Cheney Brothers — Ward, Charles, Ralph, Rush, Frank, John and Seth, practiced a philosophy of industrial paternalism. The brothers cared for their workers by building hundreds of houses, supplying at-cost meals and providing for nursery care and insurance along with retirement options during a time when worker’s benefits were few and far between.
By the late 1880s, Cheney Brothers Silk Manufacturing Company became the largest and most profitable silk manufacturer in the country. Shortly after the turn of the century, the company employed 4,700 workers across a 36-acre mill complex. Products made of Cheney silk and velvet extended from clothes and furnishings to automotive upholstery and eventually parachutes.
The Cheney Brothers have made their mark on history, having been recognized internationally for their research in raising silkworms and advancing fabric manufacturing techniques. After synthetic fabrics became commonplace, Cheney Brothers saw a decline in business which led to the family selling the business in 1955. The Cheney Brothers district was designated a National Historic Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.