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Fall River: The Rebirth of American Textiles

“What you make with your hands is what you feel inside."
- John Carvahlo, Master Weaver

New York, LA, Boston… Fall River. Scanning our contact page you might think one of these is not like the others. But Fall River is more than just where we manufacture, it’s our spiritual home and creative hub, thanks to our dedicated local craftsmen, whose talent and spirit are are a living connection to American’s textile heritage – and Merida’s creative DNA.   

Located 50 miles south of Boston, Fall River was in fact the birthplace of American textile manufacturing. At its peak in the 19th century, Fall River boasted more than 40 mills and was a bustling hub for manufacturers as well as suppliers, fabricators and craftsmen. For more than a hundred years, Fall River supplied the nation with clothing, upholstery, paper, fabrics, and fueled many important technological innovations. You might say it was the Silicon Valley of the industrial revolution.  

When Merida made the decision to manufacture here, we knew that Fall River had the people and skills that could take us where we wanted to go. Today our skilled craftsmen are not just continuing a tradition of local weaving; they are inventing techniques no one has ever attempted to create one-of-a-kind rugs that express the soul of American ingenuity. 

Inspired by this history, we named some of our popular flatwoven wool rugs, made right here in Fall River, after textile mills that trace back to that storied time:


 

Slater

Samuel Slater launched the American textile revolution when he constructed the nation’s first textile mill on the Blackstone River in 1793. Today Old Slater Mill in nearby Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is a historic landmark and museum open to the public. Boasting a 16,000 lb waterwheel, Slater Dam supported hydropower for numerous mills well into the 20th century. 

Troy

The Troy Cotton & Woolen Manufactury thrived on the banks of Fall River from 1814 to 1929. At its peak the mill operated 1,170 looms.

Flint

John R. Flint established the historic Flint Mills in Fall River in 1872.

Heywood

John J. Heywood established the Heywood Narrow Fabric Company on Portland Street in Fall River in 1890.

 

Like Detroit and so many other great centers of American manufacturing, Fall River fell on hard times as globalization and foreign competition put local producers out of business and jobs went overseas.  By the 1960s, many of the town’s historic mills were abandoned, shuttered, or razed, and generations of knowledge and talent would go untapped. 

Today we employ talented local craftsmen who are writing the next chapter in that history of invention, not by doing piecework but by reimagining textile design with craft and technique. In 2018 we launched a Master Craftsman apprenticeship program to develop talent from within and grow a team that will continue to push the boundaries – and inspire the next generation of talented artisans.

Fall River has a new story to tell, and Merida is proud to be spearheading the next chapter while bringing textile innovation home to its American roots.

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