The Town of Millis is a suburban industrial town in the Charles River Valley, incorporated in 1885. First settled in 1658, the first mill was built in town in 1662 on Bogestow Pond. The town's early economy was based largely on agriculture and grazing. King Philip's war destroyed every building in town except the fortified stone house built for protection. There were taverns, grist and saw mills serving the farming population in town after 1710, and the community remained a prosperous agricultural town throughout the century. In the next century, the town's character changed with the two cotton mills established in 1805. One of these mills is reputed to have installed the first lace loom in America in 1818. Brickyards, organ and organ pipe factories, along with a paper mill and canning factory, in operation in 1837, joined the textile operations as significant town industries. In the twentieth century, however, all that showcased the town's early industrial heritage were Herman Shoes, Safe Pack Mills and the Clicquot Club ginger ale plant.
Newly restored Town Bandstand located at the Town Park behind the Millis Town Hall
Local Historical Commissions
Duties and Responsibilities of the Millis Historical Commission:
Work continues on the Niagara Fire House on Exchange St. Millis, Ma.
Lansing Millis was successful in turning the small town of Millis into an important area of Massachusetts. Lansing Millis, who was widely known as a connoisseur in railroads and trains, built up a strong rail system in Millis. This was arguably his most important accomplishment, as the rail system is regarded as the most significant factor in its independence from Medway. In addition, the railroad system was a major factor in the early promotion of economic growth in the town and the integration of Millis to the larger cities of Dedham, Boston, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Currently, this old railroad that used to begin in Medway is known as the "The Woonsocket Division of the New York and New England" Railroad.
The Medway tracks have since been dismantled, making Millis the railroad's western terminus. The railroad is now mostly defunct, but several miles of the Bay Colony tracks in Millis are privately owned and operated by the GAF industrial enterprise located in the Clicquot neighborhood of Millis. The Bay Colony Railroad merges with the present day MBTA Commuter Rail in Needham.
Millis Historical Commission
410 Exchange St.
Millis, Massachusetts 02054
Nathan Maltinsky, Chairman
The industrial history of Millis is long and varied starting with the water power of Hinsdell's mill. When water power became less popular the shoe factories, canning and bottling companies and Holbrook's foundry and organ factory provided employment. Each of these started as a small boutique style business and some of them reached national prominance.
The most famous industry of Millis is a tie between Clicquot Club Ginger Ale which was distributed nationally for fifty years or more and the Herman Shoe Company which produced most of the boots worn by the troops during World War II. Clicquot was advertised by a banjo band led by and known as the
Today the prominant employers are Tresca Borothers Sand & Gravel, Braman Screw Machine. We are also "blessed" with a thriving automobile recycling industry that, while some decry the appearance, does provide a necessary service, according to the Economic Development studies that have been undertaken on our behalf.