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Project 090 ◄| Project List |► Project 092

FBG Project M-091

Source: Yost

6-Building Box Plant for Atwood-McManus Co

  • Chelsea, MA
  • Contract: Oct 1908
    Completed: Jul 1909
    • $125,000
  • Architects: Lockwood, Greene & Co (Boston)
  • Some buildings stand in adapted use

This project was a rebuild and expansion of a box-making plant destroyed in the third major fire of 1908 to hit Chelsea, MA. It consisted of six buildings and a powerhouse with two “very tall” chimneys: a receiving building 345 feet long, an office building, a 200-foot stable, a sawdust and kindling wood building, a 2-story factory of 350×200 feet and a warehouse of 375×68 feet.

Besides the scale of this project, it is noteworthy in that Frank Gilbreth successfully negotiated for the implementation of the Taylor System piecework pay rate that had failed the prior year in Gardner. It was thus his first successful implementation of a job management system. By his own account, he spent a grueling overnight session with four representatives, bolstering his arguments with his experience as a union laborer himself, to convince the unions to allow the pay system. Horace K. Hathaway was the sole Taylor consultant for this effort.

The Chelsea Fires

Chelsea was one of the cities beset with fires in the early years of the century. The “Great Chelsea Fire” of April, 1908 burned some 350 acres across a mile and a half of the city, taking with it over 2,800 buildings and 19 fatalities.

The September 21st fire of that year burned five acres in the largely wooden manufacturing district around the Atwood-McManus plant, with no fatalities. (A third fire, sometime that year between these two, is referenced in newspaper accounts without details.)

Atwood-McManus would lose some six million board feet of lumber along with its wooden facilities. However, the fire started in the Atwood-McManus plant, and is considered to have gotten out of control when the employees tried to stop the blaze themselves with one one-inch hose.

(In October 1973, what became known as the “Second Great Chelsea Fire” started within yards of the same point as the April 1908 blaze. It burned 18 acres/blocks and 200 buildings, with no fatalities.)

FBG Provenance


  • At least two of the large buildings still stand at Yale and Carter Streets and have been adapted to multiple use. It is difficult to tell which of the smaller buildings may be original, and the third of the large buildings (either the factory or the warehouse, probably the latter) is no longer present.
  • Google aerial view — the triangle of the plant still exists, with several era buildings. The large building at center is either the factory or warehouse; the trapezoidal building along the railroad tracks is almost certainly the receiving building.


  • Boston Evening Transcript, 21 Sep 1908:

  • Boston Globe, 23 Sep 1908:

  • Real Estate Record & Building Guide, 2 Nov 1908

  • Boston Globe, 17 Dec 1908:

  • Brick, Sep 1909:

  • Boston Globe, 17 Sep 1909:

Books & Articles

chelsea.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/11 19:58 by