Archives & Special Collections
Bradford Durfee Textile School Opens in 1904
The Bradford Durfee Textile School was chartered in 1895 and incorporated in 1899, but it did not open its doors until 1904, when the first building was finally completed on the corner of Durfee and Bank streets in downtown Fall River. The city of Fall River raised $35,000 to match funds from the Commonwealth for its construction. It was constructed of Fall River granite and gray pressed bricks, with granite and copper trimmings. Like the New Bedford Textile School, it was outfitted with the latest textile machinery on three floors. A four-sotry mill addition was added on Elm Street, and there was a dye house at the rear of the main building.
The first class consisted of five day and 163 evening students. Four options were offered: a three-year diploma course in General Cotton Manufacturing, and two-year diploma courses in Designing and Weaving and in Chemistry and Dyeing. The first diplomas were awarded in 1911. Over time the certificate courses were extended to three years and a course in Mechanical Engineering was added. Evening school was attended by mill workers, attending classes to improve or learn new skills. The day courses were attended mainly by those aspiring to careers in the management of textile enterprises.
Although originally supported by the City of Fall River, in 1918 the school’s governing board deeded the property to the state, who then assumed most of the financial burden of its operation. Between 1918 and 1965, however, the City of Fall River annually contributed $10,000 towards its support. Why was it named Bradford Durfee, and not Fall River Textile School? It got its name because the land on which the school was built was donated to the City of Fall River by Miss Sarah S. Brayton on condition that the school be named Bradford Durfee Textile School in honor of one of her ancestors, a pioneer in the textile business in Fall River.
For more detailed information, check out the online versions of the Bradford Durfee Catalogues and Yearbooks.