Moore and Thompson Paper Mill Complex

Moore and Thompson Paper Mill Complex

Site: V06-18
Municipality: Rockingham, VT
Location: Bellows Falls
Site Type: Mill/Industry
Vt Survey No: --
UTMs: (Zone 18) E: 707200. N: 4777690

National Register Nomination Information:


The former Moore and Thompson Paper Mill complex comprises a total of eighteen buildings located next to the Bellows Falls power canal below the Great Falls of the Connecticut River. The lower group of predominantly multi-story, gable-roofed, attached brick buildings was constructed mostly in 1880-81 while an upper pair of single-story, flat-roofed factory buildings was erected in 1924-25. Various alterations have been made to the buildings, reflecting changes in mill operations through its eighty-year history of paper production. Although converted briefly in the 1970s to furniture manufacturing. the complex retains much of its historic integrity and now (1983) awaits rehabilitation for adaptive uses.

The Moore and Thompson mill complex occupies a sloping site at the south end of the so-called "Island," an area located east of the Bellows Falls business district between the Great Falls of the Connecticut River and the canal built originally to by-pass the falls (see the National Register nomination for the Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District, entered in the National Register on August 16, 1982). A driveway along the canal's east side leads downhill from Bridge Street to the lower group of fifteen numbered buildings - Nos. 1-12, 8-A, 10-A, and 11-A - that contain about 70,000 square feet of floor area. Without exception, these buildings are attached to one another and descend in irregular steps the downward slope to the bank of the Connecticut River. The principal buildings - Nos. 1,2,5,7,8,11 and possibly part of 4 - were constructed in 1880-81: the various smaller buildings were added during succeeding decades until 1917.

The nineteenth century group stands immediately northeast of the New England Power Company's hydroelectric generating station that now terminates the south end of the canal. The Moore and Thompson mill was originally powered by water from the canal, whose East Branch flowed under Buildings No. 1, 2, and 3 with a diversion under No. 7 and as a 1916 plan suggests, under other buildings as well. The large brick arches spanning the intake and discharge remain visible (although infilled) on the south elevations of Nos. 1 and 11, respectively; similar arches exist in the basements of Nos. 1 and 7, marking the diversion to two water turbines in pits under the latter building.

A two-track railroad siding curves along a shelf cut into the slope beside the west perimeter of the buildings, allowing freight service to the complex and rail access to an adjacent building. Above the siding on a low knoll stands the upper group of twentieth century buildings (Nos. 13-15) oriented toward Bridge Street on the northwest, and connected to the lower group by a steel-framed utility bridge. The principal upper buildings, Nos. 13 and 14, are single-story, flat-roofed, brick and steel-framed structures that cover about 30,000 square feet. These buildings were erected in 1924-25 by a subsequent owner of the Moore and Thompson mill, the Hudson Bag Company, for the manufacture of paper bags.

Paper production at the Moore and Thompson complex continued until the 1960s; during the 1970s, the buildings were adapted to furniture manufacturing that continued until 1981. Although having lost their originally intended functions, the buildings retain their essential architectural integrity. Various alterations have been made sporadically throughout the history of the complex, involving especially door and window openings and roof sheathings. While some of these alterations detract from the complex's architectural character, they appear generally reversible.

Building No. 1:
Belonging to the principal group constructed in 1880-81, Building No. 1 possesses the form, materials, and decorative features shared by four counterparts, Nos. 2, 7, 8, and (originally) 11, in the Moore and Thompson complex. The brick structure measures 50 feet by 65 feet and rises one and one-half stories to an asphalt-shingled gable roof oriented parallel to Bridge Street. The fenestration includes original twelve-over-twelve and eight-over-eight sash together with two-over-one replacements enframed by segmental-arched lintels and rusticated granite sills. A heavy eight-table corbeled cornice forms the dominant decorative feature across the main (west) eaves facade, and continues (above partial returns) along the raking eaves of the south gable elevation. That gable peak displays a window treatment repeated on other gable ends in the complex: a central twelve-over-twelve sash flanked by a pair of eight-over-eights. On the west slope of the roof, two pedimented dormers are lighted by eight-over-twelve sash.

Several of Building No. 1's openings have been altered by enlargement or infilling. A broad semicircular brick arch - constructed of six header courses - appears in the south basement wall; now infilled with brick except for a central window, the arch formerly spanned the water intake for the East Branch of the power canal. On the originally seven-bay west facade, the northernmost window has been replaced by a large overhead door sheltered by a gabled wood canopy; this doorway provides freight access to the railroad siding in front of the building. The central (pedestrian) entrance has also been enlarged into a double-leaf doorway sheltered by a similar canopy.

Other alterations of Building No. 1 include a thick concrete berm placed along the west facade's foundation. On the south elevation's first story, an enclosed flush-boarded, steel-underframed loading shed has been added to serve the attached Building No . 6; the 35-foot by 8-foot shed extends over the former water intake.

Building No. 2:
A brick fire wall upthrust through the roof marks the joint between Building No. 1 and the similar Building No. 2, the original boiler house of the complex. Conforming to the curvature of the adjacent railroad siding, No. 2 has a trapezoidal plan with its depth ranging from 50 feet on the south (abutting No. 1) to 44 feet on the north along its 42 foot length. Building No. 2 has been nearly blinded by the infilling of its original segmental-arched openings, especially on the west eaves elevation where three steel channel beams have been tied vertically to reinforce the wall. A coal bunker occupies most of the ground story. The corbeled cornice of Building No. l continues across Building No.2.

The north gable peak of No. 2 displays the cornice and window treatment common to other gable ends in the complex except that one opening has been converted to a door leading on to the roof of attached Building No. 3. The east slope of No. 2's roof bears a two-tiered shed dormer and has been recently sheathed with aluminum; prior to their removal in the late 1950's, boiler exhaust pipes emerged horizontally from the dormer and connected to a lateral pipe leading to the complex's smoke stack. Above the building's northwest corner. the bridge connecting Building No. 13 meets an enclosed passageway that penetrates the upper north corner of the asphalt-shingled west slope. An original dormer like those on Building No. 1 was removed circa 1955 from the west slope's south end.

Building No. 3:
The complex's present boiler house, Building No. 3, apparently dates to circa 1882 and consists of two portions. The main portion is a two-story brick wing measuring 62-65 feet by 20 feet attached to the north elevations of Buildings No. 2 and 4. Its irregular fenestration has been partly infilled or covered. Exposed rafter tails appear at the north eaves of its shed roof. A shed roof projecting from the north facade shelters an enclosed stairway leading to a lower level ash removal area. Atop the roof's west end stands a one-story, flat-roofed, woodframed tower with novelty siding; next to the tower, a large metal ventilator rises beside the steel legs of the bridge to Building No. 13. A 37-40 foot, one-story, shed-roofed, brick east extension of No. 3 forms a wing to the north gable elevation of Building No. 7; the wing provides a freight entrance into the latter building. Attached to the east end of this extension lies a small shed-roofed, wood-framed structure which shelters an inactive fire department sprinkler connection.

The tall brick smoke stack serving the boiler plant soars above the southeast corner of Building No. 3. Of square plan, the smoke stack tapers slightly upward for most of its height and then flares the remainder to the top. A corbeled inverted triangle appears on each face at the transition. Projecting from No. 3's west elevation at ground level, a rectangular concrete coal chute conveys coal from the railroad siding to the bunker in the basement of Building No. 2.

Building No. 4:
The internal Building No. 4 was extended or rebuilt from a one-story structure that previously partially occupied the site of the present building. An 1881 drawing and an 1883 insurance diagram indicate that the southern portion of the site was then open. A 1901 insurance map notes that the structure on the north portion of the site was one-story high and used for storage. The southern portion of the site was open space over a flume, according to a c.1915 floor plan of the complex. The second story, and presumably southern portion, of Building No. 4 was added in 1917, as noted on a 1919 insurance map that also pictures Building No. 4 in its present configuration. It fills the opening surrounded by Buildings No. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. Only the flat roof of the 21 foot by 66 foot unit is visible from the exterior. Its original skylight was removed circa 1940.

Building No. 5:
Another building internal to the complex, the 21-foot by 29-foot No. 5 is surrounded by Nos. 1, 4, 6, and 7. The asphalt-shingled gable roof of No. 5 connects perpendicularly to those of Nos. 1 and 7; a dormer like those on No. 1 marks its south slope. A brick fire wall interrupts the roofline, rising from the west wall plane of No. 7.

Building No. 6:
Building No. 6 was added to the complex in 1892, concealing both the south elevation of No. 5 and the south end of No. 7's west elevation. The two-story, shed-roofed block extends four bays (42 feet) across its west elevation with twelve-over-twelve sash on the second story; the first story openings have been infilled with brick. Thee 21-foot south elevation originally adjoined another mill building (now demolished) and therefore was constructed without openings.

Building No. 7
The two and one-half story Building No. 7 forms the north-south spine of the Moore and Thompson complex, its dimensions of 40 feet by 150 feet ranking the largest among the nineteenth century buildings. Despite the size of No. 7, only its north and south gable elevations are mostly exposed; Buildings No. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 11-A abut and nearly conceal its east and west flanks. The five-bay north gable elevation appears similar to Building No. 1 in design and materials while the opposite elevation consists of a blank wall that, like the south end of No. 6, originally abutted a demolished building (white paint reveals its somewhat smaller form, rising to the partial returns of No. 7's corbeled cornice). The south wall stands atop a high mortared rubble foundation that derives from an earlier mill and canal wall on the site.

Building No. 7's gable roof retains the original slate only on its northeast section; asphalt shingles and, more recently, aluminum sheathing have been applied to the remainder. Slate survives also as cladding on the vertical surfaces of two gabled, pedimented dormers that emerge from the roof's east slope. Three similar dormers have been removed from the west slope.

Building No. 8:
Projecting onto lower ground from the northeast flank of No. 7, Building No. 8 shares the design of the other major gable-roofed blocks in the complex but is distinguished by its height of three and one-half stories. No. 8 extends four bays (45 feet) in length and the same number (but 40 feet) in width across its east gable elevation. The upper one and-one half stories appear unaltered except for asphalt shingles (replacing slate) on the roof's north slope and aluminum sheathing on the south slope. The lower stories are exposed only on the north eaves elevation where the original fenestration has been partly infilled. That same elevation rises from a massive rubble foundation, another remnant of all earlier mill on the site.

Building No. 8 A:
Building No. 8-A consists of a one-story, one-by-four-bay wing added in 1917 atop the west slope of Building No. 10's roof to abut the second story of No. 8's east elevation. The wood-framed, flat-roofed addition has been clad on its vertical surfaces with imitation brick asphalt sheathing.

Building No. 9:
Like Building No. 4, Building No. 9 is a narrow two-story, flat-roofed unit internal to the complex, surrounded in this case by Buildings No. 7, 8, 10, and 11. Added circa 1890, the 21-foot by 50-foot No. 9 retains a central monitor atop its roof.

Building No. 10 and 10-A:
Attached to Building No. 8's east elevation but oriented perpendicular to it, Buildings No. 10 and the abutting No.1 0-A form a one-story brick block of approximately 55 feet by 61 feet with a common shallow-pitched gable roof. Now appearing as a single unit, the two sections were built in different years around the turn of the present century. No. 10 being the earlier, a longitudinal interior brick wall distinguishes the sections. The block shares the standard window treatment but most of its openings have been recently covered. A double leaf entrance remains on the north elevation, surmounted by a projecting steel I-beam that supports a hoist. The block's northeast corner is truncated to provide clearance along a driveway.

Building No. 11:
Building No. 11 constitutes the dominant east-west component of the Moore and Thompson complex. Partly surrounded by Buildings No. 7, 9, 10, 10-A, 11-A, and 12, No. 11 extends fourteen bays (108 feet) from the east flank of No. 7. In 1940, No. 11's original gable roof (with a central ventilating cupola) was removed and a full third story was added to the building under a flat roof; The James Leck Company contracted for the construction. While the lower stories appear similar to the other major buildings in the complex , with brick construction and segmental-arched window openings, the third story has wood frame, imitation brick asphalt sheathing, flat-topped windows, and only half the number of bays found on the second story. The original twelve-over-twelve sash on the second story have been replaced with ten-light, metal-framed sash; the third-story openings have eight-over eights.

The five-bay (50-foot) east elevation of No. 11 is dominated by a 10 by 12-foot brick elevator tower added to the building circa 1890. Crowned by a modest corbeled cornice, the flat-topped tower rises above the building's present roofline to the height of the original gable peak (whose outline remains visible on the tower's exposed west facade).

Building No. 11-A:
Another appendage to Building No. 11 was added probably circa 1900 to the west end of its south elevation. Building No. 11-A consists of a 13 by 28-foot, one-story, shed-roofed projection from the main building's second story: its wood frame and imitation brick asphalt sheathing give it an appearance similar to that of Building No. 8-A. Unlike the rooftop position of No. 8-A, No. 11-A is supported by steel beams carried by brick piers that rise in turn from a broad brick arch spanning another former water opening like that of Building No. 1

Building No. 12:
Another addition to Building No. 11 (and one of the last components of the lower group of Moore and Thompson buildings) projects from the east end of its south elevation. Constructed in 1903, the 44-foot by 30-foot Building No. 12 rises only one story to a corbeled cornice at the eaves of a shallow-pitched gable roof. Its irregularly arranged segmental-arched window openings have been partly altered or covered. An iron penstock passes under part of the structure.

A steel-framed utility bridge links the nineteenth century Moore and Thompson complex with the early twentieth century buildings along Bridge Street to the northwest. It was probably constructed circa 1924-25 at the time of the construction of the upper group of buildings. The bridge's south end stands atop Building No. 3; from there, it extends 78 feet over two intermediate steel piers to connect the south elevation of Building No. 13. Fabricated of I-beams and angle stock, the structure carries a wood-framed, flat-rooted shed, eight feet in width sheathed with vertical matched boards. The shed was built to shelter a conveyor; now it contains only the steam and dust collector lines passing between the upper and lower buildings (it is not designed for pedestrian use).

Building No. 13:
The principal building on the upper level, No. 13, contrasts with the older multi-story buildings below in that it spreads in a single story over an area measuring 186 feet by 80 feet. The flat-roofed brick factory was erected in 1924-25 for the manufacture of paper bags. Its wall surfaces are mostly occupied by expansive multi-pane, metal sash enframed by corbeled lintels and concrete sills; gabled wood-framed monitors (replacing original skylights) provide additional light through the roof. The main entrance on the north elevation has a double-leaf doorway flanked by slender full-height windows.

Building No. 14:
Attached to the east flank of No. 13, Building No. 14 measures the same length (186 feet) but it is offset northward to correspond to the curve of Bridge Street. Also erected in 1924-25, this warehouse has a width of 71 feet and possesses a steel skeleton sheathed with corrugated metal. Two large loading bays with overhead doors open onto the street from the north elevation.

Building No. 15:
Adjoining the northwest corner of No. 14, Building No. 15 consists of a 16 by 30-foot, one story, wood-framed, flat-roofed garage together with a 10 by 20-foot, shed-roofed west wing, both sheathed with novelty stock. This garage probably predates No. 14; a 1919 plan of the complex shows a symbol labeled "auto. ho." approximately on the site of the present building.

The utilitarian interiors of the Moore and Thompson buildings retain much original fabric along with the results of alterations made sporadically throughout the complex's history. The materials used for the interior walls vary from building to building in combinations of wood and brick augmented by steel. Originally the floors were framed and surfaced uniformly with wood: twentieth century alterations introduced steel framing and concrete surfaces, especially in Building No. 11. The gable roofs are generally carried by wood trusses reinforced with iron tie rods; this structural system eliminated the need for interior posts that would have interfered with the placement of machinery.

The most distinctive structural features occur on the first (ground) floor of Building No. 11. Massive brick semicircular arches extend the length of the building in four parallel series - each of four arches - rising from the ground level to support the second floor. Apparently the arches were intended to carry the great weight of the two Fourdrinier paper machines - one 72-inch and one 84-inch model - that were installed on the second floor.

After the abandonment of paper manufacture circa 1970, the related machinery and equipment was mostly removed from the buildings. However, there remains in the northwest corner of Building No. 1's basement a massive iron pulp beater that was fabricated in 1918 by J. H. Horne and Company of Lawrence, Massachusetts. The beater was driven by belts from a 100-horsepower Westinghouse electric motor that also remains in place.

Another survivor from the paper mill's mechanical equipment continues in active service. Installed secondhand in 1936 in Building No. 3 to replace four smaller boilers in Building No. 2, a Babcock and Wilcox 400-horsepower, coal-fired, water-tube steam boiler produces 24,000 pounds of steam per hour to heat the entire complex. A Taylor automatic stoker delivers coal from the bin in Building No. 2 located below a chute from the railroad siding.

An insurance diagram of the Moore and Thompson complex prepared in 1919 identifies the contemporary uses of the extant buildings. At that time, the lower group of buildings had reached its ultimate expansion but the upper buildings had not yet been constructed. The company then produced manila wrapper, kraft paper, and ruled writing paper, using the fifteen buildings in the following manner:

Cutting Building, No. 1:
Basement - beater; size room; aluminum and clay storage
1st story - cutting; office
2nd story - pulp testing; paper storage

Coal and Boiler House, No. 2:
Open interior - boilers; coal bunker

Building No. 3
1st story - coal bunker
2nd story - shipping: barrel storage

Building No. 4:
1st story - oil storage; mill pump; head gates
2nd story - cutting and ruling

Building No. 5:
1st story - filters; passageway (from basement of No. 1 to 1st story of No. 7)
2nd story - passageway (from 1st story of No. 1 to 2nd story of No. 7)
3rd story - paper storage; passageway (from 2nd story of No. I to 3rd story of No. 7)

Building No. 6:
1st story - pulp storage
2nd story - pulp storage

Beater Engine Building, No. 7:
Basement - shafting (from the turbines); drainers; fire pump
1st story - beater engines
2nd story - bundling; paper storage
3rd story - paper storage; waste paper

Storeroom, No. 8
Basement - pulp storage; motors
1st story - pulp storage
2nd story - finishing and shipping
3rd story - paper storage

Building No. 8-A:
Single story - supply room and office

Building No. 9:
1st story - engines; save all (miscellaneous storage)
2nd story - beaters and screens

Building No. 10:
Single story - carpenter shop

Building No. 10-A:
Single story- machine shop; lumber and paper storage

Machine Room Building, No. 11:
1st (ground) story - foundations (arches); lumber, paper, and oil storage
2nd story - Fourdrinier machines
3rd story - paper rolls

Building No. 11-A;
Single story - screen room

Building No. 12:
Single story - pulp storage

The 1919 plan also indicates the numerous other paper mill buildings that closely surrounded the Moore and Thompson complex on the north, east, and south. Excepting a mostly burned mill on the north (whose hydraulic system was being used by Bellows Falls Electric Company for generation), the mills belonged to the extensive International Paper Company complex which by the 1920's stood vacant. These mills were mostly demolished in the late 1920's.

The New England Power Company's head works, power house, and substation now flank the lower group of Moore and Thompson buildings on the south. To the west stand a small deteriorated hydrant house of unknown age that presumably served paper mills in the area and a brick former International Paper Company Stock house. Around the east and north sides of the lower group of buildings in the Complex remain stone foundations and former canal walls, cinder dumps, partly collapsed masonry tailraces (the largest emerging at the river's edge beneath a brick arch visible in Photograph l), the remains of an incinerator of unknown age and some concrete retaining walls along the river bank. The upper group of buildings in the Complex is flanked on the east by a utility company storage yard. Scattered commercial development lines the north side of Bridge Street in the vicinity of the Complex.

The nominated property is limited to the intact Moore and Thompson Paper Mill Complex and a small amount of surrounding land which incidentally contains some of the minor elements noted above; most of the structures noted above are outside of the boundary of the nominated property.


The former Moore and Thompson Paper Mill complex holds significance both for its architectural nature and its historical association with the physical and economic development of Bellows Falls village. The complex includes representative examples of two distinct types and periods of industrial architecture: the late nineteenth century multi-story, gable roofed mill buildings constructed over their source of water power (the East Branch of the Bellows Falls canal) and the early twentieth century single-story, flat-roofed factory related to its power source only by electrical transmission lines. The Moore and Thompson mill played a leading role in the industry that dominated Bellows Falls' economy during the half century after 1870, and remains the largest paper mill complex from that period The scarcity of such industrial complexes in generally rural Vermont gives the Moore and Thompson mill complex additional significance as an historic resource.

Prior to the formation of the Moore and Thompson partnership, Albert C. Moore gained his early experience in paper making by operating a small mill at Bartonsville, a hamlet eight miles northwest of Bellows Falls. A great flood in 1869 destroyed Moore's mill and he moved into the larger village next to the Great Falls of the Connecticut River At the beginning of 1870, William A. Russell opened the first paper mill in Bellows Falls to use wood pulp rather than rags (the raw material of earlier mills at the village), and Moore became his first paper machine tender.

The following year, Moore entered a partnership with Charles H. Shepley and built a paper mill on the West Branch of the Bellows Falls canal. That mill remains standing and is identified as Building #22C in the National Register nomination for the Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District, q.v.). In 1875, Moore exchanged partners; he bought out Shepley's interest and then sold to Edward Arms a half interest in the business, thereby creating the partnership that would construct the original Moore and Thompson buildings

Although busily engaged in Bellows Falls' paper industry, Moore and his partners accounted only for a minor share of its explosive growth during the 1870's. William A. Russell controlled much of the activity. He purchased the Bellows Falls Canal Company with its excessive land holdings, enlarged the canal to provide increased water power, and organized the Fall Mountain Paper Company that dominated the local industry until its 1898 merger into the giant International Paper Company. Propelled by the paper industry, Bellows Falls entered a quarter-century of industrial expansion and commercial development unparalleled in its history. (See the National Register nomination for the Bellows Falls Downtown Historic District.)

Moore and Arms clearly shared the expansive mood of that epoch. At the turn of decade their attention shifted to a vacant area along the canal's East Branch for the development of a larger paper mill. Construction of the original buildings - Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, and possibly part of 4 of what became the Moore and Thompson complex - occurred in 1880-8[1?]

That effort may have overstretched the partners' financial resources; in March, 1882 they sold to Horace W. Thompson for $20,000 an undivided one-third interest in the enterprise. Deeds indicate that the strengthened partnership then proceeded in November of the same year to purchase from the Bellows Falls Canal Company the previously leased mill lot flanking the East Branch together with the six mill-powers of water from the canal (the latter, however, carrying an annual rental of $450.00 per mill-power). The partnership of Moore, Arms and Thompson lasted until 1892; then Arms withdrew and the remaining principals formed the Moore and Thompson Paper Company.

Expansion of the complex began with the addition of Building No. 3 and continued in 1892 with the construction of No. 6. By the turn of the century, the company produced twenty tons of paper daily; about sixty persons were employed and two paper machines were in operation. A. C. Moore was president and manager, H. W. Thompson was treasurer and Frank A. Moore (son of Albert C.) and Henry R. Thompson were assistant superintendents. Buildings No. 10, 10-A, and 12 were added to the complex within a few years of 1900, and Fred L. Thompson, (son of Horace W.) joined Frank A. Moore in succeeding their fathers as principals in the company. Subsequent expansion brought the original complex to its ultimate development by 1917.

A major shift in the source and type of power for the Moore and Thompson mill was arranged in 1914. The paper company then leased to the Bellows Falls Electric Company its right to draw from the canal the volume of water equivalent to six mill-powers - one mill power equaling 30 cubic feet of water per second at a head of 25 feet. In exchange, the paper company received delivery of 300 kilowatts of electricity per hour. (The complex still receives electricity under the terms of this lease today.)

A detailed survey of the Moore and Thompson paper mill was prepared by O. P. Black in 1919 for the Associated Mutual Insurance Companies. The resulting plan, view, and sections illustrate the complex and its uses shortly after the addition of the last contiguous buildings. Employment at the mill had not changed from the turn-of-the-century level (60) and the two Fourdrinier paper machines - one 72-inch and one 84-inch model - continued in operation. The firm then produced manila wrapper, kraft paper, and ruled writing paper.

Despite the 1914 lease of the company's water rights, the 1919 survey records that the mill continued to rely on water power. The breakdown by source included 1000 horsepower from water, 265 horsepower from "water electric transmission," 175 horsepower from steam, and a "small amount of electricity from outside source...." The drawn view of the complex indicates the canal's East Branch entering the arched intake under the south elevation of Building No. 1 and leaving beneath the north elevation of Building No. 3. A diversion under Building No. 4 delivered water to two turbines beneath Building .No. 7, and the discharge curved under the attached Buildings No. 9, 11, and 11-A to a tailrace.

The following decade brought great changes both to Bellows Falls' paper industry and to the Moore and Thompson firm. During 1921, the mill was sold (in February) to the Eagle Paper Company of New York but then repurchased (in December) by the local owners. More transfers occurred in 1922; in May, Frank A. Moore sold his family's interest in the company to Fred L. Thompson. Finally in December the Hudson Bag Company of New York.bought the entire stock of the company, eliminating the founding families from ownership.

Hudson Bag moved rather quickly to expand the Bellows Falls operations. In 1924, construction began on the so-called Bag Shop, Buildings No. 13 and 14 that occupy the knoll to the northwest of the original Moore and Thompson complex. A utility bridge with conveyor carried the product of the paper mill to the new factory, the latter increasing by about 75 the total employment at the complex.

While the complex experienced these changes of ownership and expansion, the adjacent International Paper Company - overwhelmingly the largest in Bellows Falls with eleven paper machines in production prior to 1920 - followed an opposite course. A bitter labor conflict erupted in 1921 and subsided only when International Paper closed its mills and withdrew from Bellows Falls, leaving the Moore and Thompson complex the largest paper firm in town.

Between 1926 and 1928, the environs of the Moore and Thompson complex underwent drastic change. A predecessor of the New England Power Company acquired and demolished the vacant International Paper mills, exposing for the first time the south elevation of Moore and Thompson's Building No.7 (and possibly No. 6) that abutted International Paper's building known as No. 6 on a 1919 insurance diagram and as "No. 1 Engine" Building on a 1916 Canal Company plan. The power company then proceeded to enlarge greatly the canal and to construct the present hydroelectric generating station and attendant facilities.

Moore and Thompson's spurt of expansion in the middle 1920's proved shortlived. In November, 1927, the greatest Connecticut Valley flood of this century raged through the incomplete hydroelectric development and the Moore and Thompson mill. The company repaired its damage and continued operations but a depressed paper market brought another halt the following June, leaving some 160 employees temporarily jobless. Production soon resumed but was accompanied by a protracted struggle with the Town of Rockingham over tax exemption for the mill. In September, 1932, operations were again shut down, employment having dropped to 120 owing to the national economic depression. Several months of controversy ensued over tax exemption and wage reductions, and production did not resume until February of 1933. The company fared somewhat better later in the decade, and in 1940 made the final enlargement of the complex, the incompatible third story added to Building No. 11.

The Hudson Bag Company (later the Hudson Pulp and Paper Company) interests maintained their control of the Moore and Thompson complex for forty-one years, equalling the longevity of the original families' ownership. The conclusion of paper making under the Moore and Thompson name came at the end of 1963, when the mill was closed and the 97 employees were dismissed. The company attributed the closing to a variety of factors but a Bellows Falls Times editorial of December 19, 1963 indicated that Hudson Pulp and Paper had simply joined the contemporary industrial exodus from New England's antiquated infrastructure. "New plant facilities and machinery and ample supplies of wood pulp make the Florida. plant more economical."

An attempt by a new owner at reviving the production of paper goods followed in 1964 but did not outlast the decade; early in the 1970's, the paper machinery and equipment were removed from the buildings. In 1974, the complex was adapted to the manufacture of furniture and experienced a revival of activity until the failure of that venture in 1981. Presently (1983) the Moore and Thompson complex is used for active storage and awaits rehabilitation for new uses.

The Moore and Thompson buildings represent a hundred-year history of industrial enterprise devoted, except for the most recent decade, to the manufacture of paper and paper products. Although encrusted with additions, six major buildings - Nos. l, 2, 5, 7, 8, and 11 - continue to convey both the material characteristics of their original design and a strong sense of their late nineteenth century mill functions. Especially evocative are the parallel series of brick arches that occupy Building No. 11's ground floor, built to support the weight of the paper machines formerly installed on the floor above.

The vicissitudes of operational and economic conditions have caused numerous evolutionary changes in the appearance of the original Moore and Thompson buildings, including the addition of several smaller buildings or wings. These alterations and additions have not always contributed in a positive manner to the complex's architectural character but they represent nonetheless various phases of its history and fortune. Generally, the alterations have involved changes of exterior sheathing materials, removal of minor architectural features, or changes of window or door openings; most of the alterations appear reversible if financially feasible.

Within the relatively rural state of Vermont, the Moore and Thompson complex belongs among a small number of multi-building industrial complexes dating from the late nineteenth century. Furthermore, the Moore and Thompson group retains a higher degree of overall architectural integrity than most of its Vermont counterparts. While other complexes have usually lost individual components to fire or demolition, the Moore and Thompson complex displays an architectural continuity representing a century of industrial development.


Child, Hamilton. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County Vt. 1724-1884. Syracuse, N.Y. 1884.

Hayes, Lyman Simpson. History of the Town of Rockingham Vermont. Bellows Falls Vt.: Town of Rockingham, 1907.

Lovell, (Mrs.) Frances Stockwell and Lovell, Leverett C. History of the Town of Rockingham. Bellows Falls, Vt.: Town of Rockingham, 1958.

Rockingham Bicentennial Committee. A Pictorial History of the Town of Rockingham. Bellows Falls, Vt., 1975.

Streets, Public Buildings and General Views of Bellows Falls, Vt. Gardner, Mass.: F. J. Blake, 1885.

Walbridge, J. H. Souvenir Edition of the Bellows Falls Times Devoted to Town of Rockingham. Bellows Falls, Vt.: W. C. Belknap and Co., 1899.


Lot Plan (c.1881) drawn by .J. J. Holbrook, received by Town Clerk December 27, 1882.

Plan of Fall Mountain Paper Co., Bellows Falls, Vermont, Boston Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance Co., February 1883.

Plan of Bellows Falls, Vermont, Sanborn-Perris Map Co., Limited, New York, April 1901.

First Floor Plan of the Moore and Thompson Paper Company, no author, c.1915.

Plan of Mills and Waterways Below Arch Bridge, Bellows Falls, Vermont, Bellows Falls Canal Company, January 1916.

Diagram and plan of Moore & Thompson Paper Co., Bellows Falls, Vt. (Serial No. 13,500, Index No. 8473) surveyed and drawn by O. P. Black for Associated Mutual Insurance Companies, Boston Mass., 1919.

Plan Showing Encroachment Upon Land of Bellows Falls Hydro-Electric Corporation by Hudson Pulp & Paper Corporation in Village of Bellows Falls, Rockingham Vermont, (11-10485) New England Power Service Company, Boston, Mass., December 29, 1947.

Plan of Hudson Pulp & Paper Corporation, "Moore & Thompson Division," Bellows Falls, Vt. (Serial No. 43587, Index No. 8437) drawn by F. R. Berzins for Factory Mutual Engineering Division, Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Cos., Norwood, Mass., 1955

Survey Map of Property of the Island Corporation, Bellows Falls, Vermont. Drawing No. 79-952) DiBernardo Associates, Bellows Falls, Vt., November 6, 1979.

FORM PREPARED BY: Hugh H. Henry, Historic Preservation Consultant, Green Mountain Turnpike, Chester, VT 05143. Tel: 802-875-3379. Date: September 1982; revised November 1983.

DATE ENTERED: March 16, 1984.
(Source 127)