|The Spaulding & Frost
Cooperage in Fremont, NH
Article By Sarah S.
Web Site By Greg W.
Coopering is the
art of fastening barrels from wooden staves and hoops. The art has
been around since the first century AD. The Spaulding and Frost Cooperage
located in Fremont, NH is one of the oldest and largest cooperages on the
continent. Founded in 1874 by Jonas Spaulding Jr., it has produced
50,000,00 barrels and buckets made of
white pine and cedar.
does this without creating any waste. They burn all the scrap wood
and sawdust in giant boilers. The burning of this waste is used to
generate electricity for the whole cooperage and some buildings surrounding
The Spaulding and Frost Cooperage even holds the title of being the producer
of the largest barrel in the world, built in 1998, it is 16 ft. high and 10
ft. wide. This barrel can be found in the Guiness Book of World Records.
Still using the methods
used a 125 years ago, the Spaulding and Frost Cooperage makes all of its
products virtually by hand. The skilled crafts men and women of the
Spaulding and Frost Cooperage make both wet and dry buckets, as well as many
other products. The wet bucket are barrels that have been dipped in
paraffin wax in order to seal the cracks and crevices, making them water
The whole barrel
is made almost all by hand, one of the only machines used to make them is
a machine that draws the staves in. Barbara Domowski , a shop employee,
said this about the cooperage’s techniques, "When ever something happened
to it [the machinery] somebody on premises had to fix it, because nobody
else had machinery like that.
So, they had to really construct a lot of things themselves, which
was really Yankee ingenuity."
This is a company
that has a definite old Yankee background. Jonas Spaulding Jr., a self-made
entrepreneur was an already successful copper in his home town of Townsed
Harbor, Massachusetts. Jonas came to Fremont in search of lumber. He
found what he was looking for and more. Jonas found an abundance of white
pine in Fremont. He also learned that the railroad was soon to come to Fremont,
making it an ideal place for a business. And so it was, Fremont became
the home of a cooperage.
The cooperage had
many names before it became Spaulding and Frost, in 1893. In 1884 the
cooperage was known as Barne’s and Sapulding’s kit Factory. By 1888
it was known as Spaulding & Wallace and Spaulding & Frost.
The cooperage was operating under two divisions. One making the barrel
staves and headings, while the other put the barrels together. The two divisions
merged in 1893. Since then the company has changed hands only
seven times in its 125 year history.
The cooperage is now owned by William Cahill.
The Spauldings were an
affluent and well liked family leaving traces of their name through out the
state. There is the Spaulding & Frost Cooperage, Spaulding High
School in Rochester, and the Spaulding Turnpike. Two of Jonas’s sons
became govorners for the state of New Hampshire.
Through out the history
of the cooperage there have been at least five fires. Two of which
were devastating, leaving the cooperage in smoldering ruins. The first
record of a fire was in 1897. It wasn’t until 1921, when what was at
least a four alarm fire struck. The fire completely destroyed seven
buildings at the cooperage.
The fire quickly spread to nearby homes and to the woods behind the
cooperage. Luckily the fire was brought under control before too much
more damage could be done. The estimated value of damage done by the
fire was 100,000 dollars. The company rebuilt on the same site only
to have a repeat occurrence in 1973. On the sixth of December in 1973
a fire of immense proportions broke out and quickly engulfed the three
story main plant. A water tower situated nearby was said to be so hot
from the fire that steam billowed form its top. Residents of Exeter
a neighboring town were said to be able to have seen the glow of the flames.
This fire caused over 300,00 dollars of damage. With unbelievable determination
the cooperation was producing barrels a year and a half later, at nearly
the same rate as before that devastating day in December.
The cooperage today
still lies on 36 original acres. The cooperage still specializes in barrels
but they make many other products as well.
Ms. Domowski said "the
cooperage has made products for many large companies such as: LL. Bean, Crate
& Barrel, Hooters, Jack Daniel’s, Ivory Soap and Walt Disney. The
cooperage even did a special job for Campbell Soup’s 125th anniversary."
The Spaulding &
Frost Cooperage is a symbol of how hard work and perseverance is the way
to success. It all started with a simple wish to find lumber and a
125 years later the Spaulding & Frost Cooperage is still thriving as
a shinning example of an art that has long since been out dated. Keeping
with the issues of the day the cooperage even strives to keep this age old
art alive while doing their part to be environmentally friendly.