The Beacon Blanket Company was founded in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1904. The product was a patterned blanket made of cotton and was promoted as being as soft and warm as wool, but less expensive and easier to clean.
In 1925, the spinning operation of the company was moved to Swannanoa, North Carolina, where it was closer to the source of the raw material, cotton. Financial pressures during the depression caused the owner, Charles D. Owen, to move the entire operation to Swannanoa, where wages were lower and the workers were less likely to unionize. The entire New Bedford factory was loaded on railroad cars and moved south.
Beacon blankets were so popular, that at its peak in the 1930s, the company was producing as many as 1,500 styles and selling millions through retailers such as J.C. Penney.
The Beacon cloth robe, which was made from the blanket fabric, was another hugely popular product, available in plaids and ombré geometric and “Indian” designs. The Beacon company did not actually make the robes; they made the fabric and provided the labels to sewing factories. Beacon even sold kits for making the robes from its cloth, which was patented at “Beacron”, a blend of cotton and acetate.
Beacon closed in 2002.
Written by fuzzylizzie