Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2015 Preservation Award Winners
Photo of Lilly, Brackett & Company Shoe Factory:  Station Lofts

Lilly, Brackett & Company Shoe Factory: Station Lofts • Brockton

Adaptive Reuse, Rehabilitation & Restoration

Significant for its long association with Brockton's shoe industry, the Lilly, Brackett & Company Shoe Factory is an excellent, intact example of Italianate-style mill construction with heavy timber framing and a brick masonry exterior. The property includes the four-story factory building and an attached, one-story, brick boiler house, both dating to 1880, and a one-story, brick machine shop and office addition dating to the 1940s. Lilly, Brackett & Company, a manufacturer of quality men's boots and shoes, constructed the building in 1880 and operated at the site until 1902. George Knight & Company purchased the building in 1908, manufacturing machinery for the shoe industry here until 2004. Other shoe-related occupants leased space here over the years, including the E. Merrit & Company Machine Shop and the J. M. O'Donald Company Shoe Factory. Stall and Dean, a tenant in the north end of the building from 1917 through the 1950s, manufactured sporting goods.

Using state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Lilly, Brackett & Co. Factory created twenty-five mixed-income apartments with on-site parking, a fitness center, and a management office. Prior to rehabilitation, the prominently sited factory in downtown Brockton was in significant disrepair due to years of deferred maintenance and vacancy. Its wood windows were rotted or missing, and many openings were boarded up. Exterior restoration work included careful and thorough masonry cleaning and repair and restoration of copper gutters. The project also restored existing steel windows in the machine shop/office, and new aluminum windows matching the profiles and sash configuration of the historic windows were installed elsewhere. New exterior wood doors replicating the originals were installed on the north, south, and west elevations, the existing machine-shop door was restored, and the existing elevator headhouse was re-clad in metal shingle to match the existing cladding. The project retained two original loading openings stacked atop one another at the east elevation; the second-story opening is now glazed, while the first-story opening has new door infill matching the original doors. Rehabilitation of the building's interior included repairing and refinishing the floors in stories two to four; cleaning brick walls, which were left exposed in corridors, stairwells, and the new fitness center; and replicating the historic beadboard ceiling on the fourth floor and in the first-floor corridor. Wood beams and columns were left exposed in apartments and corridors, and the team incorporated the building's history in the design, displaying a restored fire door, historic shoe forms, a restored George Knight sign, and Stall and Dean jerseys in common areas. The machine shop now serves as an open-plan garage with historic fabric such as brick walls, beams, and roof decking restored and left exposed. The impressive project has saved one of the few remaining intact shoe factories in the city, transforming a blighted city block into a source of pride for the community and introducing more than fifty new residents to downtown Brockton.

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