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Ethan Allen Furniture (Beecher Falls Manufacturing Company Building Number 1)
About 1888 the George Comins Company, a furniture manufacturer in Concord, New Hampshire, began buying timber land in Canaan and across the border in Quebec, and in 1894 the company built a sawmill in Beecher Falls. A year later, after an agreement among principals supplying logs, labor, and capital on both sides of the border, this mammoth four-story, timber-frame furniture factory was erected. Possessing what was reputedly the largest wood-frame factory in New England, the company transferred its bedroom furniture business from Concord and incorporated as Beecher Falls Manufacturing Company. With a steam engine to provide electricity in an ell on the west side, an elevator at the building's north gable end transported lumber to the fourth floor. The long cantilevered and covered ramp that runs diagonally the length of the east exterior allowed workers to roll furniture down to the lower floor levels, for cutting and fitting, to assembly, and to finishes; the ramp also allowed workers to move rapidly in and out of the plant. Despite two changes in management during the twentieth century, the factory remained the largest furniture factory in the state, reaching a peak employment of more than 600 workers in 1976 in the more than twenty buildings that now comprise the complex. Unlike most historic wood-frame industrial mills, which have succumbed to fire or demolition, this factory remains in use, with the addition of a concrete fire wall that runs through the center of all floors. Most recently, standing-seam sheet-metal siding has been applied over the layer of asphalt shingles that c. 1960 were laid over the original clapboards.
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