1846, Henry Hale Stevens incorporated
Stevens Linen Works and began production
in the old Merino Woolen Company which
had been started in 1812 as a cooperative
wool spinning mill. The building, located
in Dudley, Massachusetts, is still used
top quality kitchen textiles, including their world-famous calendar towels, today.
was attracted to this site because of
the existing buildings and the availability
of water power from the lake formed
by the woolen company for power. His
goal was not to continue the production
of wool but rather to begin the first
organized manufacturing of linen in
the United States. Mills in Europe were
already producing linen, but in the
US, it was still a cottage industry.
Most farms and rural homes had a small
patch of flax in their gardens, which
they then mixed with local wool to produce
a fabric known as linsey-woolsey, for
their daily clothing. Steven’s
vision was to make linen on a large
scale to replace the European imports.
He imported machinery and workers from
Scotland and production began the following
the next 100 years the mill would produce
a number of products all based on linen
and would go through various periods
of growth particularly during war time.
A new building was added in 1857 on
which was carved the company’s
enigmatic motto, “All Was Others.
All Will Be Others”. What was
to become the main mill building was
built during the Civil War and other
additions were built during the two
the first third of this century, Stevens
Crash Towels had become the standard
for dish towels across the country.
At the end of World War II, the electric
dishwasher was developed and, along
with the introduction of “Turkish”
toweling, greatly reduced the demand
for linen towels. As demand was dropping,
a mill employee came up with the idea
of printing calendars on the towels.
The first linen calendar towels were
produced in 1954 and the Stevens kitchen
linen program was off and running. Today
the company produces over 2,500 products
including kitchen linens, baby linens,
tote bags, and calendars.