Company Towns

From          RICHARD JENSEN <CAMPBELLD@APSU.BITNET>                            
Subject:      company towns, worker housing                                     

From: IN%"AMERSTDY@MIAMIU.BITNET" "American Studies" 14-JUL-1993 19:31:37.40 From: Susan Garfinkel <sgarfink@SAS.UPENN.EDU>

company towns? they are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. one of my favorites in hershey, pennsylvania, built as an ideal planned community for the chocolate factory workers. i'm not remembering the details, but it included parks and schools and all the rest, with a strong socialist agenda.

one form of company town that i know a bit about is mining towns

  • i went on a conference tour of mining towns in central pennsylvania a few years ago. these seem to consist mostly of small, detached, but idential houses, very much on a family model. often, a school, a company store, and some sort of community center building were provided. i think it varied whether the company built the churches or not... i'm forgetting the name of this one company i'm thinking of, but i remember the names of two of their towns, just a few miles apart: colver and revloc. note that "revloc" is "colver" backwards. this is somehow a contraction of the company's name, which i wish i could remember for you... another town we saw was entirely designed by horace trumbauer, an architect for philadelphia's elite (designed the art museum, main public library, many private homes) who was the personal architect of the mine owner.

i worked for the historic american buildling survey (habs) a few years ago on a documentary project in altoona, pennsylvania, which was the sight of the pennsylvania railroad's machine shops. it was an interesting case, because it was not a traditional company town. the prr build only a few houses, but on the other hand, the city existed entirely for the sake of one company's production... habs has done a lot of work on pennsylvania because of gov't funding for a project called "america's industrial heritage project," to revitalize the areas now devestated by the decline of the steel industry. they have put out a lot of reports, etc., and i can get you an address for them if you're interested.

i'm not familiar with the back-to-back terrace arrangement that you drew, but that doesn't mean it wasn't here somewhere. most of what i do know about, though, was either small detached houses, or rows separated by a service alley and some amount of yard in the back, or various types of dormitory arrangements.

about lowell, mass: i do know that many of the single women who worked there were housed in large dormitory-like buildings, that have a lot in common with shaker housing...

in any case: what are the sorts of issues and questions that worker's housing raises for you? how do you think that britain and the u.s. might be similar or different. i don't know much of anything about welsh coal mining towns, for example, though i used to adore _how green was my valley_ when i was young.

obviously, you're not the only one who can carry on about this topic.

susan garfinkel

Date:         Thu, 15 Jul 1993 08:07:26 -0600                                   
Reply-To:     H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
Sender:       H-Rural Rural & Agricultural History discussion                   
From:         "Jim Oberly, History Dept.,                                       
              U of Wisc-Eau Claire" <JOBERLY@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU>                   
Subject:      Re: Company towns, worker housing                                 

Date: 15 Jul 1993 07:39:23 -0500 (CDT) From: charles <> Subject: RE: company towns, worker housing

I do not recall seeing the original message, but I will offer the following two sources for information on one small West Texas company town:

Rhinehart, Marilyn D. A Way of Work and a Way of Life: Coal Mining in Thurber, Texas, 1999-1926.

Spratt, John S. Thurber, Texas: The Life and Death of a Company Town.

Charles R. Schultz                409-845-1815                                  
University Archives                                 

Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-5000

Information provider:
Unit: H-Net program at UIC History Department Email:
Posted: 13 Jul 1994

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