The Sanborn Sun February - May 2000
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 tower white pine and cedar. 
      The cooperage 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 mill. big barrel 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 tight.

     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.Wheel barrel   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

     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. building 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.sign   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. 
faded barrel
    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."

sign      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.