The Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory has a long and storied history. We like to think that we are the next in line of progressive owners of this historic property, restoring it to its rightful place as a key part of the social and economic fabric of the Middle Main neighborhood.
The Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory property was built in 1874 as William S. Patten's Poughkeepsie Live Oak Leather Manufactury, and shortly thereafter became the Dutchess Manufacturing Company, which added on substantially to the original structure.
Unofficial records place the photo above as taken in 1907 at a cooperage in Poughkeepsie.
By 1895 it was William Paulding's Cooperage. In 1899 the Queen Undermuslin Company was incorporated, and in 1904 it moved from a location on Mill Street into this building, forever leaving its mark on the property now known as the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory.
The building was remodeled to accommodate the unique offerings of Queen Undermuslins, and was highly regarded as a building entirely run on electricity.
"one of the lightest, most sanitary, and most up-to-date factories in the city," according to a 1911 Poughkeepsie Eagle article.
The garments produced at the factory were held in very high regard, and shipped around the world. The high quality of the product was confirmed by the Galveston Cotton Carnival and Exposition, where Queen Undermuslins took home top prize.
The company produced 60,000 garments annually, exclusively for women and children, and able to be procured "at any dry goods or furnishing house of any importance."
The owners of the factory, Robert Stuart and JC MacLean, were certainly progressive employers. Records show them as successful inventors and businessmen.
"whose first interest is the promotion of the business, but next to that is the improving of the working conditions of the employees."
Employees (all women) were involved in resolving business disputes, and the grounds were lauded for their beautiful condition, included a perfectly manicured privet hedge, a large flower bed at the front of the site, and even a tennis court for recreation for the employees!
Not much is known about the history of the building from the mid-twentieth century onward. Later pictures show it as Central Press; no details exist about that operation that we are aware of. The building was vacant by the 1980s.
The building joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 as the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory, forever cementing its place in history.