The Norwood Press

“The buildings of the Norwood Press are at last an assured fact. The idea which elaborated itself in the councils of the Business Association has changed from a fancy into a reality. The incredulity which filled the mind of the average citizen of our town, when axes began to cut away the trees and undergrowth, and indeed, even when the first pick and shovel found their way into the earth, gave way to a settled conviction that Norwood was surely to have a new business enterprise in her midst; but this feeling yielded to actual wonderment and astonishment when the magnificent proportions of a handsome structure outlined themselves, and day by day, from extensive foundations, grew into the completed and harmonious plant which brings to our town a business the like of which, outside the cities, is not to be found in any other town in the Commonwealth.” W.T Whedon

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The Norwood Press (from the collection of LL Kearney)

The Norwood Press first opened its doors in January of 1895. At that time J. S. Cushing & Co (compositors) and Berwick and Smith (printers) were the only companies that moved into the new facility and began printing books. However, they still needed a bookbinder partner to come join them in Norwood; without one, all the printed pages would have to be shipped out to be bound. Initially, H.M. Plimpton & Co., was going to be the bookbinder for the Norwood Press, but dropped out of the deal, leaving J.S. Cushing & Co and Berwick & Smith without a bookbinder for the Norwood Press. In 1897, the Norwood Press completed an addition to their Washington Street facility, and bookbinders, E. Fleming & Co., moved in. Now a book could be manufactured in one place, a novel idea at the time.

Invitation to the Celebration of the Norwood Press Building opening (from the Norwood Historical Society Collection)

The Norwood Press, which was only a real estate holding company, was actually three independent companies each owning a one-third interest in the Norwood Press, and did not control over each other’s production departments. Encouraged to relocate their businesses from Boston to Norwood through enticements such as eight and a half acres of free land worth $10,000 and tax breaks, Cushing, Berwick and Smith accepted the Norwood Business Association’s generous offer and began building an expansive and modern printing facility on Washington Street. The building that was constructed for the Norwood Press is quite an impressive building. The original structure was built in 1894, which is a single story structure, except for the central part that is two stories tall, and a large addition was built in 1896 to house the bindery. The facility backed up to the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad making shipping completed books an easy process.

Type sample book from J.S. Cushing & Co. (from the collection of the Norwood Historical Society)

The Norwood Press had some of their best years before World War II, the height being in the 1920s. After WWII, the press experienced declining production and operating shortages. In early 1952, management and labor could not agree on a contract, especially relating to procedures for machine operation that would reduce costs. In April the Norwood Press shutdown, in October Berwick & Smith was dissolved, and in 1954 C. B. Fleming and J.S Cushing & Co. were dissolved on the same day. All three companies took a risk moving their businesses to a suburb fourteen miles outside of Boston and yet they experienced great success as textbook manufacturers in Norwood for about sixty years. They provided thousands of jobs to the citizens of Norwood and they helped to make Norwood the printing center of the United States.

When Three Equals One –>

Movers & Shakers of the Norwood Press –>

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