If you haven’t yet been to the Hawley Silk Mill in Hawley, Pa., there are so many reasons to visit. If you’re new to the area or visiting, the Silk Mill was the first large-scale silk factory in Northern Pennsylvania. In 2011, this beautiful 3-story building was refurbished and turned into a lifestyle center that represents so many aspects of our lives today. Thought to be the largest bluestone building in the world, the top floor of the former mill houses Lackawanna College, the second floor has private offices, and the first floor is a bevy of activity with shops, art galleries and a fitness center.
Read on for a little history about the Hawley Silk Mill and then come visit us and experience the lifestyle center that is the Hawley Silk Mill today! Don’t forget to check out all of the events that are happening at the mill by visiting the calendar on our website.
History Highlights of the Hawley Silk Mill
In 1880, the then-called Bellemonte Silk Mill was built by Dexter. Lambert & Co. for a $130,000. It opened in 1881, employing 50 young women ages 8-17. The factory was shaped like a Greek cross, 364 feet by 44 feet with a 20-foot central extension, 80 feet high at its northern end. The interior was designed as an open floor plan to easily accommodate machinery and workers.
The Mill machinery was driven by a 61-foot water wheel that sat in the center at the back of the mill and was powered by the natural fall of the Wallenpaupack. Also on the property was a building that housed the cocoons containing silkworms that provided the raw material for the silk produced in the mill. According to Wayne County Historical Society, workers at the mill twisted the raw material into silk thread and used it to make cloth. Workers at the mill produced 1 million yards of silk cloth yearly.
In 1894, a fire devastated the mill, however, it was immediately rebuilt and it continued to operate as a silk mill until 1956, followed by a general textile mill until the mid-1980s. It was then used by an antique reproduction business.
After sitting vacant for a time, a group of developers took over the building, renamed it the Hawley Silk Mill and set out to refurbish this beautiful landmark and breathe life back into it once again.
We’re thrilled to say the Hawley Silk Mill has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The project is finishing the second of three phases, the entirety of which is expected to cost $5-7 million, which is being invested in the local economy.
Hawley Silk Mill Today
It has been no small feat to restore this silk mill, but the vision is coming to fruition, as the mill represents a solid cross-section of lifestyle amenities that make the Hawley Silk Mill a great place visit.
Spend the morning sipping delicious coffee at the Cocoon Coffee House, the building that once housed the silkworms and their delicate cocoons. Then wander into the main castle-like building, where you’ll find various shops, including Art on the Edge and Looking Glass Art Gallery, as well as the fitness center, Lake Region Fitness.
Hawley Silk Mill Comes Full Circle
The Silk Mill in Hawley has been a vital part of this community since its construction in 1880. Through its many incarnations, it has continued to contribute to the local economy. Its current version offers a vibrant center that celebrates the lifestyle of the Pocono Lake Region. It’s a place for residents and visitors alike to shop, gather, eat, exercise and learn. We hope to see you soon!