The Baker and Forbes mills were constructed in 1891 and 1911, respectively. They provided employment for many people in the Dorchester area producing Baker’s Chocolate for many years. The brand was acquired by General Foods and in 1962 the company decided to consolidate their operations and move production to Delaware. Employees were given the option of transferring to the new plant, but only a few took this option. The closing of the mill contributed to an economic downturn which continues to plague the area to this day.
I remember that I explored the Baker mills on Martin Luther King Day in 2006. I remember this because, after a very dicey entrance which almost plunged me and my camera equipment into the Neponset River, I emerged in the mill building to find construction lights on and workers tools. I had chosen to explore the mills on MLK Day specifically because I knew they were under renovation and there might be activity there, and I was right. There wasn’t too much left to see in the mills, but it was still very cool to explore this important piece of Boston’s working history.
Decades of rust coat the controls of a penstock used to allow water to flow beneath a historic mill building.
Renovation slowly wipes away years of neglect from an old mill building which once housed a Chocolate Factory.
When this chocolate factory closed in 1965 it contributed to economic problems in the area the effects of which are still being felt today. These buildings sat abandoned for nearly 4 decades before the ravenous real estate market finally took note and began to reclaim them. Many plans for redevelopment of this site were made along the way, but only recently have they actually taken hold. It’s fortunate that, even after all this time, the buildings were still in good enough shape to be renovated and reused, preserving the historic character of the neighborhood.