American Reed & Willow Company, North Avenue near Main Street, circa 1924

  • American Reed & Willow Company, North Avenue near Main Street, circa 1924
  • "The American Reed & Willow Company building was originally the Jenkins-Phipps Company, manufacturers of reed, rattan and willow furniture, which erected the building in early 1914, after purchasing the 1.5 acre property in December, 1913. The corner lot, originally part of the Cyrus Wakefield estate, was an ideal location because the Salem branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad passed by the doors of the company. The factory was a three- story wooden building, 100' long x 50' wide, which was built by local contractors A.A. Butler and W.E. Knox. The entrance faced southward, toward Crystal Lake. Jenkins-Phipps Company began as the A.D. Jenkins & Company on Franklin Street somewhere around 1890. Six employees built chairs and other rattan articles at the location until a fire forced the company to relocate to the Taylor Building around 1901, eventually expanding its operations to encompass the entire top fourth floor. Augustus Jenkins learned his trade as a worker and foreman for the Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company of Gardner, a craft which brought him to Wakefield. His partnership with Irvin E. Phipps, a leading salesman for the Heywood Brothers and Wakefield Company, began in 1903. In what was termed as 'one of the most important industrial transactions in Wakefield,' the chair factory and business was sold to Pierce & Foley of Boston and New Jersey in June, 1919. At the time of purchase, they built a brick four-story addition on the north end of the factory to double the floor space. A fire in April, 1920, occurred in the original factory building, although the company quickly rebuilt, eventually opening a finishing and upholstery department in Boston, leaving the Wakefield location for manufacturing purposes only. The company later became known as the American Reed & Fibre Furniture Company. Changes in furniture design and market led to the company's decline in the late 1930s. By 1942, the company was idle and the property purchased by William Hickey of the Thomas Hickey Coal and Oil Company and Diamond Tank & Welding Company, in 1943. The three-story wooden building at the front was torn down in 1946 and a new front added. The location has also housed the Diamond Instrument Company (which made seismographs to study earthquakes), the Ellis Allen Company (makers of rubber rollers), and was secretly used to make radar products for Raytheon Company during World War II." -- Text from calendar by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1999
  • Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Item Company.
  • ca. 1924
  • Wakefield, Mass. : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“American Reed & Willow Company, North Avenue near Main Street, circa 1924,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 27, 2020,


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