Elmira Knitting Mills was one of the first industries in Elmira Heights. It was founded in 1893 by five Elmira men – Matthias Arnot, Charles M. Tompkins, Harlan H. Hallock, Casper G. Decker, and William Bilbrough – for the manufacture and sale of woolen, cotton, and silk goods and garments. For 70 years, it was a major employer of hundreds of men, women, and children in the area. From the beginning, it drew in new employees with promises of steady work in a pleasant, clean, safe environment. The company was not always able to keep those promises.
|Elmira Knitting Mills in Elmira Heights with employees, c. 1895|
|Star-Gazette, July 16, 1956|
|View inside the sewing department at Elmira Knitting Mills, c. 1900|
|Display of products of Elmira Knitting Mills, 1944|
|Elmira Knitting Mills, 1941|
By the early 1960s, however, business went into steep decline because of increased competition and the loss of major contract from two of the company’s large customers. In September 1963, Elmira Knitting Mills closed its doors for good.