The mills were organized in 1863 with William Mason as president and Charles O. Shove as treasurer. The original Mill No. 1 was built 1864. It was 328 feet long by 70 feet wide and five stories high with a barn roof. The mill did not begin operation until January 1865, however. It was destroyed by fire on September 19, 1874. Twenty three workers were killed in the disaster, and thirty three more were injured. Workers on the upper floors faced a desperate choice, either jump five stories to the ground, or be burned to death. The tragic fire led to reforms in the design of future mill buildings, requiring multiple exits and fire escapes. Mill No. 1 was soon rebuilt, but with a flat roof and a fire sprinkler system.
- Giza, Patricia (1984). A Guide Book to Fall River’s National Register Properties. Fall River, MA: The City.
- The Cotton Mills of Fall River Archived 2012-01-22 at the Wayback Machine.
- South Coast Today – Learning from the mistakes of the past