Street view of Lehigh
Valley Silk Mills
Photograph by Sue Pridemore
The Lehigh Valley Silk Mills consisted of two firms,
the Lipps & Sutton Silk Mill, which was one of the first
silk mills built in the Lehigh Valley, constructed between
1886 and 1904, and the Warren Mill constructed in 1895.
The complex is of red brick vernacular construction
and represents the variety of local silk mill architecture.
By 1920 the Lehigh Valley, which includes the three
major cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, had
become the second most important silk producing region
in the nation. The area was surpassed in silk production
only by Paterson, New Jersey. The iron, steel, and cement
industries were indirectly responsible for the development
of the silk and textile industries in the Lehigh Valley.
Workers coming from Southern and Central Europe who
were willing to work for low wages in these basic heavy
industries also brought with them knowledge of the skills
in the textile arts (spinning, weaving, and sewing).
The region's location near Eastern markets was also
important in the growth of the textile industry. The
Warren Mill is devoid of ornamentation, while the Lipps
& Sutton Mill, designed by locally prominent architect
A. W. Leh, has distinctive decorative features that
include small corbeled corner turrets with pyramidal
pinnacles of sheet metal. The Lehigh Valley Silk Mills
operation was one of the major silk mill complexes in
the Lehigh Valley region. In 1918 the Lehigh Valley
Silk Mills included Warren Mill, Lloyd Mills, and Williamsburg
Mills, had 50,000 spindles and six boilers, and employed
600 workers; although it is not clear if these figures
are for Warren Mill alone or the three mentioned mills
together. Lehigh Valley Silk Mills ended in bankruptcy
in 1937. It was recently renovated and received a federal
historic preservation tax
credit. The Silk Mills are now private residences
and the govenment offices for the Fountain Hill borough.
Lehigh Valley Silk Mills are located on Seneca and
Clewell Sts., in Fountain Hill borough. The borough
offices are open during normal business hours.