Industrial Mississippi: Wells Lamont, Philadelphia

As I’ve driven through Philadelphia, I’ve often admired a Moderne-style industrial building on West Myrtle Street now known as Philadelphia Electronics.

But I’ve never known anything more about it until I came across an architectural rendering in a 1946 Clarion-Ledger that gave me a little more information. Turns out, it’s an interesting building because it was designed by none other than N.W. Overstreet & Associates, and it was built as the Wells-Lamont Glove Factory using bond money issued under the Balance Agriculture With Industry (BAWI), a program we’ve mentioned several times in these Industrial Mississippi posts.

Clarion-Ledger, February 3, 1946

Searching further for “Wells-Lamont” landed me on a Greenwood Commonwealth article that gives us a good description of how BAWI worked.

You can still buy Wells Lamont gloves, but I think it’s been a long time since they were produced in Philadelphia, Mississippi–does anyone know when that plant closed? Thankfully, this stylish and sturdy building is still going though and still providing jobs for Philadelphia.

TYPICAL PLANT


The Wells-Lamont Glove Company of Philadelphia occupies the first plant actually built by a community under the 1944 BAWI Act.

Philadelphia was granted the second Certificate issues by the Board, authorizing the $80,000 bond election for erection of the building. The town passed the bond issue 647 to 39 on November 14, 1944. Actual construction started on March 1, 1945, and the company began operation in the new plant February 1, 1946, with 88 trained employees who had received instruction in the Philadelphia Legion Hut during the year of construction.

One year later Wells-Lamont reports 250 employees, about 50 percent of whom are fully trained and the rainder in training. Ernest C. Bowton, plant manager, says an additional 50 employees will be added within the next 60 days, bringing total employment to 300. The 1947 payroll will amount to approzimately $180,000.

Employees, mostly from rural areas near Philadelphia, earn a minimum of $17 per week while in training, which requires about 12 to 14 weeks. Trained operators earn 84 cents an hour, or $33.69 for a 40-hour week, with bonuses assured for production in excess of set quotas.

Operators in 1946 learned to turn out six styles on the 200 machines at the plant. Eight additional styles will be produced in 1947, Bowton says.

The plant expects to manufacture about 12,500 dozen pair of cotton gloves per week during the first quarter of 1947, stepping up production to 15,000 dozen per week the second quarter, and 20,000 dozen per week the last quarter.

Greenwood Commonwealth, Feb. 10, 1947


See more Industrial Mississippi . . .



Categories: Industrial, Modernism, Philadelphia

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4 replies

  1. The first time I went to Philadelphia, I spotted this building and was intrigued by that striking entrance!

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  2. Sidelight from Greenwood with BAWI program: In 1948, my mother was working for the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. She and Director Botts Blackstone led a major campaign for a bond issue to bring the town’s first industrial prospect, Bestform, in under BAWI. The powers at Staple Cotton Cooperative lined up opposition from farmers and planters, claiming that factories would drive up wages. Bond issue failed. My mother held a grudge against certain SCC bigwigs until she died.

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  3. I seem to remember a Wells Lamont factory in Eupora in the 1960’s but I can’t remember what it looked like exactly. I think it was just a building with no details.

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