Save the Farr Mansion

History of the Farr Mansion

Holyoke's greatest employer

Herbert Marshall Farr and the Farr Alpaca Company:

Farr was a Massachusetts entrepreneur and business man who co-founded, with Joseph Metcalf, one of the major employers of the City of Holyoke, the Farr Alpaca Company.  Farr and Metcalf were the most progressive businessmen of the area at the time. The company provided Farr Alpaca employees an athletic field, community house, dispensary with doctor and dentist available in the waiting, examination and operating rooms and a school for those who spoke no English. They also provided cultural and entertainment events in a first floor stage/theater/cabaret space built for the employees. While Farr died in 1900, the Farr Alpaca Company remained an industry leader in progressive employment standards. The company initiated profit sharing in the World War I era.  At one point, the Farr Alpaca Mill accounted for 25% of Holyoke's total payroll. The company had over 3,000 employees during its strongest period, with a payroll of over $2,000,000.  51 miles of cloth were woven a day. Over 6 million pounds of wool were used annually to run the Farr Alpaca mills.  The company closed in 1938 when alpaca and mohair linings went out of style, but we still enjoy the impact that the Farr Alpaca Company and Herbert Marshall Farr had on both Holyoke and national employment standards.


The Farr Mansion Building:

Built in 1881, the red-brick Queen Anne style residence embodies the distinctive characteristics of Holyoke's finest late 19th century residential neighborhoods.  Details on the house, including brackets, iron grill work above bay windows and carved vine motifs point to the Farr family‚Äôs prominence in the city.  Joseph Metcalf, Farr's brother-in-law and partner in the company, had a mirror image house next to Farr's until it was demolished in 1965 for a structure that was never built.  This is the only remaining building that can preserve the history of both Farr and Metcalf, the area's largest and most most forward thinking employers.


Information provided by:

Holyoke Historical Commission Demo Delay Ordinance

The Farr Alpaca Company; a case study in business history by Frances Cornwall Hunter 1951

The Protectionist: Devoted to Political Science and Industrial Progress Vol 49-50 1938



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