(Adapted from “Picturesque Franklin” , Wade, Warner & Co. , Northampton MA 1891)
Something over forty years ago the firm of J. D. Chase & Sons commenced the manufacture of water wheels and circular saw mills in the little village of West Concord, Vt. During the war, however, the business which they had labored to build up was ruined and in 1865 J. D. Chase and son, Jefferson Chase, removed to Orange and were followed in the following year by the other son, Denison Chase.
Here, they commenced in a small way the manufacture of water wheels and circular saw mills. It is a curious instance that this business was commenced in Orange in a small shop which has since become a part of the New Home Sewing Machine Company’s works and that the manufacture of sewing machines, which hassince developed into the works of the New Home Sewing Machine company, was commenced in the second story of what is now known as the “old shop ” of the Chase Turbine Manufacturing Co., so that it seems that, as time went on, the two concerns reversed their quarters.
Messrs. Chase & Sons soon interested with them the firm of L. Kilburn & Co. and shortly moved to the stone and brick shop which was then owned by Isaac Spear and is now known as the “old shop.” Here, business increased and in 1874 the present company was incorporated and organized by the election of Richard French president; Levi Kilburn treasurer and M. E. Giffin secretary. This board of officers continued until in September, 1884, the president, Richard French, was removed by death. This vacancy was filled by the election of Denison Chase and there has been no change in the officers since.
In 1882 the business had increased to such an extent that the quarters occupied were found to be too small for their wants and they purchased the real estate occupied by the firm of L. Kilburn & Co. as a chair shop, with the intention of remodelling the buildings so as to make a machine shop of them. In three months, however, from the time of the purchase the buildings were entirely destroyed by fire. The following year the present buildings were erected and while the money lost was considerable it may have been a blessing in disguise, as the burning of the wooden buildings made way for the erection of the present model works.
In the year 1888 the works were still further increased by the addition of a foundry and pattern house. From small beginnings the works and business have increased until now forty five men are employed and the specialties manufactured, consisting of water wheels, shingle machines, saw mills, etc., are shipped to every state in the Union and many to foreign ports.