August 17th, 1894
“The immense stone silk mill, the chief industry of Hawley, is heap of twisted machinery and blackened ruins. Before 10 o’clock, Friday night, fire was discovered on the upper floor just over the main entrance, by the watchman, Frank Foster, who immediately sounded the alarm.” Thus starts the newsbreak in a local newspaper on August 22, 1894. The interior of the Bellemonte Silk Mill, now the Hawley Silk Mill, had burned out, leaving the stone walls intact until shortly after midnight when the back wall toppled into the Paupack Falls.
The fire, which began in the elevator, left hundreds of people out of work and $80,000 in losses. A special train was sent to Honesdale to ask the fire department there for help, as Hawley had none of it’s own in 1894. The Hawley Bucket Brigade, however, succeeded in saving the nearby J.S. O’Conner glass-cutting factory and the Taft, Pierson and Co’s flour and feed mills.
This massive native blue stone structure located on Welwood Avenue in Hawley was built by Dexter, Lambert & Co. in 1880, and was originally known as the Bellemonte Silk Mill. Known as the largest bluestone building in the world, it was built for $130,000. To build a similar structure today, it is estimated to cost upwards of 14 million dollars.
The mill has nearly 60,000 square feet of space on three full floors and two partial lower floors. There is a small blue stone building in the front of the mill, known as the "Cocoon", that was later added for use in the silk making process. Mr. Catholina Lambert, owner of Dexter, Lambert & Co. , was a British immigrant who owned silk mills in Boston, New York, Paterson, New Jersey, and Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and appeared to have had a fascination with castle-like structures. In 1893, he built a large home with later art gallery addition, called simply "The Castle" in Paterson that today functions as a museum and has been included in the National Register of Historic Places.