Ayer, Houston Hat Factory

  • Hatfactory
  • Mhs5

Ayer, Houston Hat Factory

(site of)

2 Beach Street

About 50 women hatmakers stitched the sweatbands in men’s hats and added the trimming by hand between 1910 and 1914. Some were Polish women who lived in the Salem Street area. They were paid between $4.50 and $6 a week. Particularly skilled women were paid by piecework and could make up to $12 a week. The 150 men employed there felted the material and shaped the hats.

With their wages, the hatmakers might have spent $1 to $2 for a woman’s ready-made dress, $2 for a pair of shoes, seven cents for a can of corn, five cents a pound for haddock, and 31 cents for a pound of butter. Renting a room would have cost $1 or more a week. An apartment with a bath might have cost $10 a week.

Historic photos courtesy of Collections of Maine Historical Society, used by permission of Maine Historical Society. It is exempt from the Creative Commons license of this project.