The Holden Mill complex along the Walloomsac River is a virtual compendium of Bennington industrial architecture. Its central and oldest section, built as the Hunt and Tillinghast paisley shawl works, is four-and-a-half stories high and twenty-six bays wide, with tall twelve-over-twelve segmental-arched windows and a corbeled cornice. A square stair tower, projecting to provide vertical circulation without obstructing the work space within, culminates in an octagon with round-headed openings (originally glazed) around a bell chamber under a bellcast slate roof. Dominating the mill complex, this building achieves a scale equal to the textile mills of such major industrial cities of New England as Lowell and Lawrence.
Expanded with attached wings in the 1870s and converted to run on steam as well as water power, the weaving mill was acquired by the Holden and Leonard Company in 1889 for the manufacture of fine woolen dress fabrics. Contracts for military uniforms in World War I led to further expansion of the complex to a total of twenty-eight buildings. By that time, the mill accounted for one-quarter of the employment in Bennington. As part of the expansion, wings on the building's Benmont Avenue side were reworked. The north wing became two stories with paneled brick walls, segmental-arched windows, and a central monitor roof, and the south wing became a flat-roofed, four-story structure with large metal multipaned sash windows typical of industrial plants from the early twentieth century. For Vermont, this mill was enormous, and it would be surpassed in size only by the Champlain Mill in Winooski built fifty years later.
After cyclical booms and failures, the mills closed in 1949. In 1986 the Southern Vermont Development Corporation began the phased, mixed-use rehabilitation of Vermont's most outstanding nineteenth-century mill. Today its uses range from international corporate headquarters and manufacturing to small businesses, a fitness club, and an indoor farmers' market.