Athol is a classic New England mill town. The city was established in 1791 and developed around water powered mills built along Millers River. Most of the buildings standing in Athol today were built in the late 1800s. At various times in it's history Athol has had different factories and mills which made shoes, drill bits, textiles and other goods. A unique thing about Athol is that the largest plant, in the center of town is still operating. Since 1880 the Starrett factory in Athol has been making measurement tools. It's still owned by the Starrett family and despite much of the companies production having moved overseas, the Starrett plant in Athol is still the town's largest employer. The plant is imposing and paternalistic. It straddles the river in the center of town and towers over everything around it. It's also very approachable. A major street and bridge pass through the middle of the complex. Millers river seems to disappear into the factory as it flows beneath the section that spans the river. It's a remarkable architectural statement of dominance and authority from another century. It's also the birth place of the always useful combination square.
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