J.B. Reynolds Shoe Factory

(Adapted from “Picturesque Franklin” , Wade, Warner & Co. , Northampton MA 1891
This publication was a “snap shot” of Franklin County businesses and industries as of 1891. This original article will not include the history which occurred afterwards, unless noted by the museum editor.)

Orange was fortunate when she added the shoe business to her industries and the conduct of it by Jay B. Reynolds, formerly of Brockton, has been very successful. If we had space we should like to tell the story of Mr. Reynolds coming here, but it must be considered simply one of the incidents of the many labor troubles which have vexed the country. It would be difficult to find any Orange people who believe that Mr. Reynolds was in the wrong, for he has been with them four years, since he left Brockton, and he has impressed the people as willing to do the right thing generally, while insisting upon the right to manage his own business.

Mr. Reynolds’ establishment in Orange was the result of an invitation and substantial assistance tendered by a syndicate of public spirited citizens, who offered him a building rent free for five years and exempted from taxation for five years.

It is also almost sufficient to say that neither Mr. Reynolds or the citizens have been sorry. His business has prospered from the beginning. When he first began making shoes in Orange, in 1887, he was in a building 200 feet long, 35 feet wide and three stories high, making ten cases of goods a day. At the end of the year he was employing 75 hands and turning out 25 cases a day. Time went on and Mr. Reynolds, becoming satisfied that Orange was the place for him to do business, bought the factory building of the builders in 1890, and proceeded to build an addition 140 by 40 feet, corresponding to the main building in its general features. This was completed and dedicated May 1, 1891, when Mr. Reynolds celebrated his success in royal style, calling out all the citizens to a dance, music and speech making and distributing to them a beautiful souvenir of the occasion, consisting of a neatly printed and bound illustrated pamphlet describing the various industries of the town of Orange.

To illustrate the care taken in equipping the factory — and this is reflected in the manufacture of goods as well — some of the improvements in the new building, dedicated last May, should be mentioned. The new part, as well as the old, is furnished with an elevator, and the occasion of making the repairs was taken to equip the whole factory with automatic sprinklers and an automatic electric fire alarm. When a certain temperature is reached the first named will deluge the building with water. When, also, a wire of the fire alarm is heated, in case of fire, it will cause a large gong on the street front of the factory to ring, and will likewise sound an alarm in the houses of the clerk and engineer near by. A register fastened near the outside door, in case of a fire alarm, indicates on which floor the fire is located, so that those who arrive first need lose no time in looking it up. By equipping his factory with these appliances Mr. Reynolds reduced his insurance rate from $1.70 to 80 cents, and was promised a still further reduction. For the further protection of the employes, also, Mr. Reynolds has had inside staircases built at the ends of each of the three wings.

The present factory buildings show in the engraving on this page. They furnish a total floor space of 34,000 square feet and some 250 hands are employed in the various departments. The product is a medium grade of men’s, boys’ and youths’ shoes, made from calf, buff, veal calf, dongola, glove grain, etc., and is sold mostly to the jobbing trade in western and southern cities.

A shoe dealer’s success depends upon his ability to please his customers, and inasmuch as Mr. Reynolds’ pluck and spirit have been thus far so handsomely rewarded, it is natural to presume that he will continue to be prospered, as he evidently deserves to be.