The last great industrial growth of the Hook was the coming of the presses to Norwood. The dedication of the Berwick and Smith Press in 1891 marked the end to sectionalism in the town. The Rev. George Hill records that the people from both sides of town danced on the floor of the Berwick and Smith Pressroom until morning.
The nimble of the presses was indeed the tune to which Norwood now danced. The Plimpton Press joined Berwick and Smith in 1897. Into the industrially oriented Tiot section flowed a number of immigrant families to work in the factories.
Germans and Scandinavians came as cabinet makers and skilled artisans. Leather, wool, and paper industries drew workers who had immigrated from Lithuania, Poland, Syria, and Italy. Relatives of workers arrived from the “Old Country” bearing the address: “Winslow Brothers Tannery, Norwood, Mass.” pinned to their clothes. Workers who spoke no English were given numbered brass identification tags, which they presented upon their arrival.
The great immigraton hit its peak in 1913, and declined sharply in the following year because of the World War. This wave of newcomers was gradually assimilated into the population, but many of the groups have maintained a healthy pride on their national origins.
On the other end of the scale, the owners of the factories began to compete with one another in the grandeur of their homes and the extent of their philanthropy to the town.
While the more modest townsmen watched, with humor and perhaps with some envy, the Morrills, the Winslows, the Days, and others built their mansions, festooned them with “ginger-bread” and stained glass, and put in the first genuine Portland cement driveways the town had ever seen to accommodate that new-fangled toy, the automobile.
In 1908, George Morrill gave the town a magnificent granite home for its library, in memory of his daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill. His gift inaugurated a new era of social consciousness in the town. The three-decades from 1900-1930, In fact, saw a remaking of the town comparable to its rebirth in 1918.
By Marguerite Krupp, Originally published in the 1972 Centennial Magazine
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