“When people see something like this it’s kind of interesting… It’s sort of like a throwback to the old days,” says Wayne Mills President Martin Nissley Heilman. The businessman runs the sole remaining textile mill in Philadelphia, open to the public for tours. Heilman says that when his father was in charge of the company, there were 22 similar mills operating in the area. Since then, the bulk of the apparel industry moved overseas, so the mill had to find a way to adapt to changing times. They did so by shifting to serve the military and medical industries, making mostly narrow, durable fabrics. One such product is flag tape, which is sewn around the edges of American flags.
The area of Wayne Junction was recently designated a National Industrial Historic District in honor of the neighborhood’s rich industrial history, says Peter Woodall of Hidden City Philadelphia. The public can explore Wayne Junction November 1 from 3-5 p.m. with Hidden City. This trip includes a tour of the Wayne Mills textile facility. Click here to register.
And make sure to tune into Eyeopener, weekdays from 6-8 a.m. on PHL-17.