Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

44. the William Carter Company

The construction of Carter’s first mill on Highland Avenue, circa 1865. This building was expanded several times before it was torn down and replaced by the company’s corporate offices in the 1950s.

At its height, Needham was home to at least ten large-scale industrial knitting mills, and innumerable smaller knitting companies. The largest was the William Carter Company, formed in 1864.

Carter came to Needham from Alfreton, England in 1856 and set up a knitting shop in his home. His business grew rapidly, and he built his first factory on Highland Avenue at West Street. Carter’s specialized in knitted underwear, union suits, children’s clothes, and cardigan sweaters. As demand grew, the factory was expanded, then a second factory was built along Rosemary Lake; eventually the company had seven factories in MA and the South.

As their manufacturing operations moved south, Carter’s took down the Highland Ave. factory and built a corporate office in its place. The Carter family sold the business in 1990, and it now operates out of Atlanta; it is the largest manufacturer of children’s clothing in the world. Its old offices became an elder healthcare facility.

More about the Carter Company

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