Wrights Knitting Mill torn down, represents golden age of manufacturing in Hamburg

Submitted photo - Hamburg Area Historical Society This picture of the Hamburg Broom Works building with the water tower is courtesy of Connie Adam who donated the photo to the Hamburg Area Historical Society on behalf of her father who worked there for many years.
Submitted photo - Hamburg Area Historical Society This picture of the Hamburg Broom Works building with the water tower is courtesy of Connie Adam who donated the photo to the Hamburg Area Historical Society on behalf of her father who worked there for many years.
Submitted photo - Hamburg Area Historical Society Hamburg Broom Works workers.
Submitted photo - Hamburg Area Historical Society Hamburg Broom Works workers.

A Hamburg landmark was torn down Dec. 12. The Wrights Knitting Mill building stood at the corner of Second and Pine streets for more than 100 years.

“The community will remember the building as representative of a golden age of manufacturing in Hamburg when many local men and women worked in town earning a living,” said Brian Riegel, program coordinator for the Hamburg Area Historical Society. “Members of the community will remember working there, or certainly knowing someone (parent or grandparent) who worked in the building producing undergarments or shirts (or brooms if they are old enough), and the memories of lifelong friendships made while working there.”

Riegel said that at its height in later years, Hamburg produced 100,000 dozen brooms a year in the two or more factories in town devoted to that industry. And after 1921 the building would serve the Burkey Underwear company and then Wright’s in the manufacturing of undergarments and clothing.

“When Wilson E Schmick built the building in 1911 for his expanding broom making business, little did he realize that it would place Hamburg on the road to being labeled as the Broom Capital of America,” said Riegel. “The building played an important role in the small town of Hamburg being a manufacturing giant for many years.”

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Riegel posted on the Hamburg Area Historical Society Facebook page, “While it was sad to see the building fall into disrepair and vacant over the years, the destruction of a landmark building that occupied the corner of Second and Pine Streets since 1911 rips not only the brick and mortar but the memories of those that worked their for many years.”

Sharing historical photos, the Facebook post celebrated the building that was host to several businesses in its 106 years of existence. The picture of the Hamburg Broom Works building with the water tower is courtesy of Connie Adam who donated the photo to the Hamburg Area Historical Society on behalf of her father who worked there for many years. The other photos are all part of the historical society collection.

“A good friend, who spent twenty plus years of her life working there for Wright’s, reminded me that it wasn’t just a building, it was a place where she grew up, going from being single to married to raising a family while working there,” posted the Historical Society. “It was a place where new friends and memories were made, a place where they celebrated marriages of coworkers, births of children, and sadly, the passing of many associated there. It was a reminder that life happens even in the midst of chasing the almighty dollar.”

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.