Belknap Mill SocietyFebruary 06. 2016 12:04AM
The Mill Plaza
25 Beacon Street East
Laconia, NH 03246
"The Official Meetinghouse of New Hampshire"
The Belknap Mill is the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in America and the official meetinghouse of New Hampshire, featuring an industrial knitting machine, exhibits and concerts.
Open year round.
Built in 1823, the Belknap Mill is the only building left that represents the first stage of the Industrial Revolution in America. It is the oldest, unaltered brick textile mill in the United States. The Belknap Mill was one of the first mills to convert from weaving to knitting during the Civil War.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Belknap Mill has been designated as the Official Meetinghouse of New Hampshire for the building's historical, architectural and geographical significance.
There are two museums on the premises, the Hosiery Museum and the Power House Museum:
The History of Hosiery exhibit focuses on the mill’s history and its manufacture of hosiery, with real machines and storyboards depicting every aspect of hosiery manufacture, from dying through looping and boarding.
See the actual machines used at the Belknap Mill when it was a textile manufacturer, some with hand cranks and belts, others operating with gears and chains. The circular knitting machines on display had replaced weaving machines in order to manufacture seamless hosiery and bags at the time of the Civil War. Some of the equipment shows the modifications made in 1918 when the mill converted from water to electrical power.
The historic photographs and storyboards provide further information on the manufacturing processes and the people who worked at the mill, originally built in 1823 and remaining in operation until 1969.
Power House Museum
The History of Hydroelectric Power exhibit focuses on the Belknap Mill power house and contains live demonstrations of the history of hydroelectric power and the vital role it played in the American Industrial Revolution.
Working models provide hands-on experience in how water wheels and turbines work, and an electrical panel with switches gives the visitor a chance to see the setup that sent excess power generated at the mill to supply the city with electricity.
The power house also has the actual gears used at the mill, with their wooden cogs, along with belts connecting the generators and flywheels. Storyboards assist with explanations of the evolution from water power to hydroelectric power, and visitors are able to walk among the machinery for up-close examination of the equipment.