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On Sunday, March 12, at 2 p.m., the Shirley Historical Society will sponsor a tour of the old Samson Cordage Works buildings on Phoenix Road.

The first structures on this site were erected by the Shaker community to produce cotton sheeting. The Shakers soon realized that they did not have the man power or the capital to keep the business going, so they soon sold it to Phoenix Cotton Manufacturing company who soon sold it to Samson Cordage Works.

Rope was manufactured in these buildings for over 100 years, providing employment to the generations of Polish, French-Canadian, Russian and Lithuanian immigrants who were to become the backbone of the community. Cotton was sent up from the south and picked over and prepared to be braided into ever-increasing sizes of rope. From cords for venetian blinds, to clotheslines; from sail boat rigging, to ropes large enough and strong enough to tow oil tankers.

Now the long rooms have been subdivided into space for over two dozen businesses, with more space waiting to be developed. Those who want to see the old, along with the new, should meet at the parking lot by the bell tower with good walking shoes. All are welcome to go on the tour.

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