Crazy Facts About the Patchogue Lace Mill

According to some historical accounts, one of Patchogue's nicknames in the 1800s was "Milltown.”

Print Email

Patchogue Lace Mill. Photos courtesy of the Patchogue Historical Society.

Below we present some crazy and historical facts about the Patchogue lace mill. Click here to also see some old time photos of Patchogue Village.


Mills, Mills and More Mills

  • A paper mill was built in 1798 near the site of the lace mill
  • Historical accounts say that the paper mill produced strawboard and wrapping paper
  • It was owned by Jonas Wicks
  • The paper mill was destroyed by fire in 1850
  • Around 1800 a cotton twine mill was built just west of the paper mill
  • The cotton mill was owned by Frederick Odell
  • Odell sold the mill to Justus Roe of Setauket, who was one of Washington’s spies during the Revolutionary War
  • Later, the cotton mill was rebuilt and formed a part of the early lace mill
  • In the early 1800s a two story woolen mill stood on a site near the present lace mill
  • Farmers for miles around travelled with their wool to this mill
  • At Canaan Lake there was an old paper mill owned by John S Havens
  • The lace mill occupied a 12.5-acre site
  • According to the New York Times, the mill complex was built in phases between 1880 and 1920
  • The mill employed up to 800 people and helped support the local economy
  • It is reported that at its peak in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the mill had a payroll exceeding $1,000,000
  • The site complex “consists of six interconnected buildings with more than 200,000 square feet of space, towered over by a giant smokestack and a clock tower,” according to a New York Times article
  • According to some historical accounts, one of Patchogue's nicknames in the 1800s was "Milltown.” (Another was "Queen City of the South Shore")
  • The lace mill made other types of fabrics too like tablecloths
  • In 1893, there was a strike at the lace mill
  • In an article titled “Patchogue Lace Mill Strike Ended” the New York Times reported, “The lace mill strike, which, has involved the financial interests of Patchogue, is over. The mill owners on the first day of June notified the men that a reduction of 25 per cent in their wages would be made. The lace weavers struck and the National and Federated Lace Weavers' Union gave the strikers a weekly allowance.”
  • Union workers eventually settled for a 7.5% reduction in wages and went back to work
  • The mill was originally called the Patchogue Manufacturing Company
  • It later merged create the Patchogue-Plymouth Lace Mill
  • A New York Times article from October 14, 1954 said that the Patchogue-Plymouth Lace Mill was going to cease operations on January 1 due to declining sales
  • The story says that during World War II, the mill also produced mosquito netting for the military
  • The mill changed names and ownership multiple times over the years
  • A September 1976 New York Times story says that the site was home to a production plant of Monsanto Flavor/Essence
  • The company was said to make “natural flavors, artificial flavors and those that require a combination of both”
  • A play was written about the lace mill in 1996 titled “Lace Mill” by Matt French and Robert Liguori

Lace Mill Fate

  • The lace mill was closed in the 1970s due to a series of fires
  • A New York Times article described the mill structure in 1996 as a “a complex of dilapidated red-brick factory buildings, which many say is a prime cause of the community's deteriorating fortunes.”
  • Development ideas for the property at the time included senior housing and a minor-league baseball stadium
  • At the time, when ideas were being proposed to revitalize the property the property owners owed around $200,000 in back taxes to Patchogue village and $700,000 to Suffolk County
  • The building was demolished and reconstructed as a Swezey Department Store - a local, family-owned retailer
  • The building’s architecture harkened back to its historical roots
  • Swezey’s closed in 2003
  • Briarcliffe College took over the property and used it for classrooms and administrative headquarters
  • Blue Point Brewery moved its entire operations to the property after Briarcliffe College closed
  • Bricks that were salvaged from the old lace mill were used in the construction of the brewery’s tasting room