The Fletcher Manufacturing Company was founded by Thomas Fletcher. He started his weaving business in Boston in 1793 to produce narrow fabrics, such as tapes, "rufflings" and lamp wicks. Until the passage of the Embargo Act of 1807, Fletcher had probably imported his cotton yarn from England. Afterward, he sought out a ready supply of cotton yard which he found from Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1808 he relocated his business to Providence, Rhode Island, which was quickly becoming a marketing and distribution center.
March 24, 1897 - New York office located at 18 & 20 Thomas Street
In 1844 Fletcher's sons, who were now running the business, built a mill on Charles Street that would be the cornerstone of their vast manufacturing complex. While Thomas Fletcher had focused on narrow fabrics and lamp wicks, his sons expanded their operation to include the manufacture of shoe and boot laces, corset laces, twine, yarns, braid, webbing and spindle bandings. They continued to make lamp wicks and would become a major manufacturer of them over the next few decades.
In 1865 the Fletcher brothers incorporated their rapidly growing business as The Fletcher Manufacturing Company. By 1890 the textile factory complex at 47 Charles Street had grown to an area of over four acres. Many of their buildings consisted of three and four floors of manufacturing capacity. They provided employment to over 750 men and women. While the mill and factory remained in Providence, Fletcher maintained warehouses in both Boston and New York. By the late 1800's, The Fletcher Manufacturing Company had become one of Providence's largest manufacturing concerns.
The company operated at this location until 1912 when they were bought out by the International Braid Company, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Massachusetts, with a capital of $1,648,000, for the manufacture of boot, shoe and corset lacings, and narrow goods for different purposes. International Braid sold the facility in the 1950's as many of the New England textile manufacturers were liquidating their northern plants and moving to the south where labor, transportation and energy were considerably cheaper. In the early 1970's the majority of the complex was devastated by fire. The only buildings which were salvaged were the brownstone office building, erected in 1869, and the warehouse. In 1973 the Fletcher building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it has been renovated into office space for local businesses.
- Providence Industrial Sites: Statewide Historical Preservation Report. Providence: RI Historical Preservation Commission, 1981.
- Rhode Island Reading Room, http://www.rootsweb.com/~rigenweb/article172.html