Rummaging through a hundred+ year-old mill building while repurposing it for diverse uses in the 21st century leads to some interesting discoveries.
On the second floor of Kilburn Mill, we found this bounty of unique paper. The rolls of parchment provide a direct link to Kilburn’s more recent textile past.
They are rolls of “markers” – apparel patterns from a former tenant – a company which left a large footprint on the building. Indeed, Madewell Manufacturing at one time defined Kilburn Mill and was a leader in the textile industry across the nation.
Madewell began life 1937, manufacturing its signature jeans and dungarees for workingmen and hands-on professions. Later, the company would branch out into all manner of clothing, including women’s fashion, and even produce a popular bell bottom jean in the 1970s.
Before the turn of the last century, it’s run in New Bedford at Kilburn Mill was done. But J.Crew resurrected it in 2004 and transformed the company’s name, logo and even history into a women’s clothier.
J. Crew’s acquisition of Madewell didn’t exactly sit well with offspring of its founder, Julius Kivowitz, who escaped Russian pogroms to begin a new life in America. Buzzfeed carried the story about that several years ago, which you can read here.
Recently, J. Crew and Madewell generated better headlines when it was announced its clothing was now Fair Trade certified.
And today, still sitting in Kilburn Mill, are the original Markers used to manufacture Madewell clothing for the world from right here in Kilburn Mill in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
As Kilburn Mill continues its transformation into a home for all sorts of small businesses and individual endeavors, it’s nice to be reminded of the time when one person with a dream came here all the way from the Russian Empire to create a new world for himself and his family…and in the process created an iconic American brand which survives to this day.
It’s part of the heritage of Kilburn Mill to turn dreams into reality. We’re honored to carry on the tradition.
Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove is honored to have been chosen by Waterfront Area Historic League (WHALE) as its 2019 Christopher “Chip” Gillespie Revitalization Award recipient.
In announcing the award, WHALE writes, “New Bedford’s Kilburn Mill…has been in the spotlight after hosting the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s ‘Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World.’
“Kilburn Mill is being recognized for its revitalization efforts and creative reuse of the historic textile mill.”
After hosting the “Grand Panorama” during 2018, the renovated space is now the Kilburn Event Center. Consisting of 22,000 square feet of space, it is available for a diverse array of uses today such as wedding receptions, corporate functions, fundraisers, cultural events or other happenings.
Elsewhere in the half million square foot building, small businesses, artists, artisans and community organizations now call Kilburn Mill home – and more are being added every week as building renovation continues. An outdoor courtyard and roof deck are also close to completion.
WHALE invites WHALE members and the general public to their annual meeting on Tuesday, May 21 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Greasy Luck Brewery, 791 Purchase Street, downtown New Bedford. All are welcome to cheer on all the distinguished awardees while networking with some light refreshments and drinks.
In all, four recipients will be awarded during the celebration, including Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove. The others are as follows: Sarah R. Delano Preservation Award winners are James Chourinard and Kimberly Arruda for the restoration of Davoll’s General Store; Capital Adventures LLC and Shoreline Development for restoration and adaptive reuse of the Third Meeting House, commonly known as Mattapoisett Grange; and the Carol Ann Juneau Volunteer Award recipient is Bristol County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance with the restoration of the historic 1834 Howland House, 38 South Sixth Street, and the 1850 Leander Plummer House, 148 Hawthorn Street.
The meeting will feature historic photos and information about the award winners and WHALE’s current preservation projects
Guests will also hear from Executive Director, Teri Bernert about WHALE’s current preservation projects and featured speaker, founder of the Heritage Restoration, Robert Cagnetta.
Heritage Restoration, Inc. is a broad range construction and restoration service company dedicated to preserving and enhancing a building’s beauty, function, efficiency, and charm.
The mission of the Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (WHALE) is to foster historic preservation and continued use of the city’s architectural heritage, and to enhance community and economic vitality in New Bedford, MA. More information about WHALE is available at www.waterfrontleague.org.
As we prepare to begin a new spring and then summer season, we here at Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove thought we’d welcome you to our neighborhood. With some of the sights, sounds and events that make the south end peninsula by Clarks Cove such a fabulous place to live, work or play.
Kilburn Mill is like our neighborhood – undergoing a profound renaissance that is transforming this beautiful and historic space into a one-of-a-kind destination for all of South Coast.
Inside, we’re doing that in ways that are familiar to all those who have been following this journey with us. By repurposing this former textile mill by the sea in new and exciting ways, providing space for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, unique retailers, community organizations and others to flourish. And, by hosting fun and exciting events like Comedy at the Cove and Kilburn Fights.
For the past few years, as we have worked to restore Kilburn Mill, our neighborhood has been keeping pace. A wonderful Cove Walk was installed atop New Bedford’s famed Hurricane Barrier right below our windows. Now, we watch as the community jogs, bikes or strolls by every day.
Outside and all around us, a transformation is happening that is inspiring us. The south end peninsula is a treasured part of the City of New Bedford – home to Forts Taber and Rodman, Hazelwood Park and graceful municipal beaches.
Nearing completion is a complete reimagining of Rte. 18 from downtown right to Cove Street, a few blocks from where we are. This thoughtful urban design helps connect the south end to the city center and, for visitors from out of town, makes for a pleasant drive from I-195 to this beautiful part of the city.
Just last month, New Bedford announced a new plan to invest in the West Beach boathouse right down the street from us. Soon, you’ll be able to rent water paddles and kayaks not too far from our front entrance. (It’s a nice way to spend a lunch hour for anyone renting in Kilburn Mill!)
On the last Sunday of the month in May and the next months through September, the insanely popular Reggae on West Beach summer music series returns to the West Beach Pavilion. Launched just two years ago, it draws hundreds down to our neighborhood throughout the summer. We love that we can hear the reggae styles of rocksteady, roots, rubadub, and dancehall wafting down the beach to us!
Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove is aptly named – we are part of the amazing fabric of the community that hugs the shoreline. And we’re excited that Kilburn, with its renowned Antiques Center, Artisan Center and stunning event space has become a community hub as well as South Coast destination.
So, come visit us and spend time in our neighborhood this spring, all summer long and beyond. We welcome you – and invite you to become part of the amazing journey the south end peninsula of New Bedford is embarked on into the future.
New Bedford will always be known as the Whaling City. Its magnificent port was the inspiration for the legend of Moby Dick after all. When you make your way through the city’s cobblestone streets and past the fleets of commercial fishing boats and quaint buildings, it’s easy to overlook the many giants that dot the landscape of New Bedford and hold the keys to the city’s other claim to fame- textile mills.
The textile industry in New England brought incredible wealth in a very short amount of time but for several reasons that wealth disappeared just as quickly as it arrived and the mills were inevitably doomed. Today many of these grand structures sit crumbling throughout the northeast, a reminder of how fragile life can be, even for the strongest of entities. But there is a new industry that is starting to take shape, which embraces the storied history of New England’s textile era and is ushering in a new means of prosperity- mill renovations.
Investors are seeing the tremendous opportunities that these abandoned mills provide; the chance to merge antiquity with functionality. The combination of reclaimed brick and hand-hewn wooden beams makes for a very unique and comforting work environment. Businesses are moving into these renovated mills as quickly as the contractors can finish the work because they recognize the importance of an aesthetic workplace and its impacts on productivity.
Perhaps no mill in New England offers these qualities as profoundly as the Kilburn Mill at Clark’s Cove in the south end of New Bedford. When you walk through the halls on the second and third floors of the Kilburn Mill, you can’t help but think that Edward Kilburn chose his location on the shores of the New Bedford peninsula strictly for the view. Its rows of tall windows allow abundant natural light, which illuminates the wooden floors and rows of evenly-spaced support beams. The walls of glass create a panorama of blue water below that must have made for a much needed mental escape from the monotonous mill-work back in the day.
The Kilburn Mill is currently in the early stages of a full and monumental restoration. When finished it will be home to all types of businesses from retail to food and beverage, from artists to architects and light manufacturing. In its current state, you could easily overlook the fact that there are already 90+ tenants occupying the building. Its half-million square feet seem to hide them very well. Many are artists and craftspeople who prefer to work mostly behind closed doors but who occasionally open their space to the public to display their expertise. Others like Solshine- Yoga With a View, however, invite the public to come enjoy their beautiful space on a daily basis. With a front row seat to the best sunsets in southern Massachusetts, it’s obvious why it is arguabely the most popular yoga studio in the city.
One of the first priorities of the mill’s owners, and just now receiving its final touches, is theKilburn Event Center on the top floor of the main building. This 21,000 square foot space offers a unique venue on the south coast with a capacity of up to 700 guests. Its nearly 400’ long row of windows frames Clark’s Cove like a painting fitting of the building’s best artists.
From July to October of 2018, the Kilburn Event Center in partnership with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, presented a Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. For the first time in generations, the longest painting in American history- 1,275 feet, longer than the Empire State building is tall – was put on display for the public to enjoy and over 30,000 people came to Kilburn Mill to see it. The building had the perfect room for such a massive painting and it will continue to host other events that celebrate local history and culture.
The halls of Kilburn Mill have already enjoyed the sounds of the renowned New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, who enjoyed playing there so much that they booked another concert for April 13th of this year. It has also played host to the return of one of New Bedford’s favorite pastimes- boxing. In early February, seven U.S. sanctioned boxing matches took place, the first in many years for the area. The response was overwhelming and the property management has decided to continue the tradition on a regular basis, with its second evening of fights scheduled for March 23rd, 2019.
The Kilburn Mill is also refining the top floor to position itself as the premiere wedding venue in southern Massachusetts. Currently, its highly skilled on-site construction crew is working hard to complete multiple bridal suites and a catering area. Plans are in the works to turn the adjacent rooftop terrace into a functional use space for wedding guests, day visitors and building tenants alike. With no windows or walls to obstruct the awe inspiring view of Clark’s Cove and the distant Elizabeth Islands, the 9800 square foot rooftop space will certainly be one of the defining features that puts the Kilburn Mill on the map as a true destination in Massachusetts.