This display was last shown on February 3, 2001.


This display of the Historic Monticello Woolen Mill (1866-1950) is presented courtesy of Doris Jean Kennedy and Kris and Jim Kennedy, children of Howard 
D. Kennedy.  Howard, who was the third generation of Kennedys to own the 
Monticello Woolen Mill, died in 1998 at the age of 92.

    In 1950 a fire destroyed the Monticello landmark which had stood for 84 years and which had produced many hundreds of thousands of the high quality widely known Monticello blankets.  The Monticello Woolen Mill was built by a stock company in 1866.  The plant was operated by the stock company until 1890, when it was purchased by D. Kennedy, who learned the art of weaving in his native Ireland.  With his sons, Charles D., and Thomas, he operated a thriving business until 1921.  His sons continued to operate the mill for many years.  In 1942 Howard D. Kennedy, a grandson, acquired the mill and became the third generation of the family to own it.
   The mill was the source of employment for up to eight or ten people during the peak of the season ever since it was founded, and was one of the few places in Monticello which gave employment.  The mill was engaged principally in custom work and manufactured blankets for customers from all over the United States.  Among others it supplied Carson Pirie Scott and Marshall Fields.  In addition to regular blankets, the Kennedys also manufactured auto robes and woolen socks.  Some of the machinery in the plant dated back before the 1900's, but the quality of the Monticello Woolen Mill products was extremely high and compared with the best.
   The machinery was operated part time by water power in past years but more
use has been made of electric power in recent years.  The Little Sugar River
was dammed at the mill site.  A flume was run past the north side of the
building, in which a water wheel was located.  Water rushing through the
flume caused the wheel to turn and the machinery was operated by this means. 
   One Monticello resident remembers that her grandfather brought wool to the mill and stabled his horses and stayed overnight in Monticello before his return home from the lengthy journey.

   The blankets, robes, socks and yarn on display were all made by the Monticello Woolen Mill.  Many of these items display their original labels. 

   The photographs in the exhibit show the mill building, picker house, wooden bridge, metal bridge, Little Sugar river, dam, flume, and a train under the woolen mill bridge.

   Accompanying the display are concepts for future use of the mill property developed in consultation with Jim Kennedy.  This project was presented by 
Keunwoo Chung, a student in landscape architecture at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, as his senior thesis project.

   Jim invites comments or questions about the display.  His phone numbers are 
(608) 263-4420 (W) or (608) 274-2959 (H).

   The photo of Howard Kennedy was provided courtesy of Marlene Schmalbach,
Monticello Area Historical Society President.

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