The M. Lowenstein & Sons, a New York selling house at 8 Lispenard Street, began in 1889 in New York City as a small textile importing business. Morris Lowenstein and his sons Abram and Leon expanded the firm by providing cloth directly to small garment manufacturing firms and selling fabrics with slight flaws. Their slogan became “the right fabric, at the right price, at the right time.” The business grew and by the time young Leon was eighteen, the business moved to new quarters. They moved to larger quarters, which they quickly outgrew, so they rented the empty store next door. Leon’s father handed him a sledgehammer and told him to knock out the wall between the offices so they could enjoy the expansion.
Leon became a full partner after he turned twenty-one and had finished two years at City College. He worked hard and looked to save a penny whenever he could. Once, upon arriving in a new city on a sales call, he checked into a nice hotel. At the end of a rather discouraging day he had not found one new order. Finally, at the end of the day, he found a customer who would pay 6 ¾ cents per yard for his seven cent fabric. Leon took the order, and then checked into a cheaper hotel to offset the ¼ cent he had lost in closing the deal. The company passed the million dollar sales mark in 1909. Business continued to improve through the next few years.
The company was incorporated in 1918 with a net worth of $2.75 million. Abram became president from 1918-1936. Leon decided to join the army and went through officer’s training. The war ended before he could face combat that would have taken him to fight his native land. “It was just as well,” he said, “our family of emigrants had found fortune and friends in the United States, and it was his adopted country.”
During the 1920s, the firm decided to control product quality by vertical integration and building its own finishing plant in the south. In 1929, the Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Plant was built. Leon persuaded Archie O. Joslin, a lawyer by training and a textile finisher by avocation, then working at Imperial Printing and Finishing Co. in Providence to move south and join the new plant. The Rock Hill, SC location had water, electricity, efficient labor and the Southern Railway. They built a plant with 500 employees and soon expanded to 800 employees. Leon became Chairman 1936-1947. Rock Hill grew to become one of the largest finishing plants in the country with more than two million square feet.
In 1946, Leon Lowenstein expanded into the manufacturing of greige cloth by purchasing several well- established textile mills in the Southeast: Merrimack Manufacturing Mills in Huntsville, Alabama, and the Orr Mills in Anderson, South Carolina. Entwistle Manufacturing Co. in Rockingham, North Carolina was acquired and re-named Aleo Manufacturing (named for Abram and LEOn, sons of the founder). He added four merchandising subsidiaries; Classic Mills, Plisse Corp. of America, Lenworth Corp., and Wearever Fabrics Corp. to Aleo and operated these as a division. Joslin was president 1947-1953. During the 1950s, Lowenstein acquired further greige goods plants: Spofford Mills in Wilmington, North Carolina, Chiquola Mills in Honea Path, South Carolina and Covington Mills in Covington, Georgia.
The firm broadened its product line through the purchase of Wamsutta Mills in New Bedford, Massachusetts with itsgarment, industrial fabrics, towels, and sheet lines and the Pacific Mills in Columbia and Lyman, South Carolina with their sheeting, industrial fabrics, and towel lines. The Wamsutta New Bedford mill was liquidated except for the well-known name. Equipment was moved south. Wamsutta I and II mills were constructed in Anderson, South Carolina. Both plants ran nearly half a million spindles and nearly 1,000 looms. Along with the Pacific mills came the venerable Olympia and Granby Mills in Columbia, South Carolina. In March 1955 the firm moved to 1430 Broadway from 37-45 Leonard Street. The House of Lowenstein had a grand new home on the Great White Way known to all as Broadway.
In 1986, Springs Industries purchased M. Lowenstein and merged its operations with its own operations.
9 1/2" (w) x 13 1/2" (h)
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