Dover’s Historic Washington Street Mills Comes Alive
A Diverse Gathering of Businesses Under One Roof
Written by Crystal Ward Kent
In the 1800s, the Washington Street Mills harnessed the power of the Cocheco River in Dover, New Hampshire to make textiles. From the mighty mill machinery flowed a river of cloth that was sold around the world. By the 1900s, however, competition from southern cotton mills slowed northern production. Two disastrous fires and the Great Depression sealed the mills’ fate, and the machinery fell silent. By the 1980s, the buildings were falling into ruin.
In 1984, developers Joseph Sawtelle and Tim Pearson purchased the mills and began to restore them. After Sawtelle’s death in 2000, Eric Chinburg bought the mills and continued to renovate. Today, the Washington Street Mills Business and Cultural Center is alive again with the sound of commerce—not the textile industry, but a unique and diverse organization of businesses. Coming together under one roof are manufacturers, retail stores, service providers, eateries, nonprofit groups and artists.
Funky Rock Designs
603 842-2389, FunkyRockDesigns.com
Deep in the mills’ basement, Jeff Henderson turns rocks into art using water. Here he transforms raw stones into vases, candlesticks, clocks, lamps, drawer pulls, bowls and household goods such as sponge, napkin and toothbrush holders. A former lobsterman, Henderson did masonry work in the winter. The texture and color variations of stone intrigued him, and he began creating vases for his family. They encouraged him to sell his work, and his success led him to pursue sculpting full time. Today, his creations are featured in all of the Simon Pierce galleries, as well as in more than eighty other venues nationwide.
“The rock tells me how it wants to be used,” Jeff said. “I enjoy the creative process, and showing off the best of Mother Nature. She’s the artist—I just make the holes.” Henderson uses diamond bits and water for all of his grinding, drilling and polishing. “It’s a wet, noisy process,” he smiled. “Sometimes I wish for a warmer line of work, but then I see the next batch of rocks, and I can’t wait to see where the stone will take me.”
603 978-9698, ColorfulCreationshome.com
Colorful Creations epitomizes beauty with beads. Designer Annemarie Lemoyne creates one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, beaded bookmarks and eyeglass chains, as well as decorative glass vases, antique bottles, candlesticks and other home décor items embellished with beads. New this year are Chakra balancing anklets. Lemoyne has a background as a floral and greeting card designer, but once she began beading, she was hooked.
“I’m addicted,” she said. “The combinations and options are endless. I’m filled with ideas all the time.” Annemarie’s work features Swarovski crystals, necklaces with pendants made by New England glass artisans, and locally made lamp work beads. She is the featured designer at the Mount Washington Hotel & Spa, thanks to her quality work and distinctive designs.
Eye Feast Art
603 740-2900, eyefeastart.com
On the fifth floor of the mills, Caroline Parent’s studio is flooded with light, and she is ecstatic. “For a glass artist, it’s always about the light,” she said. “The beauty of glass is how changing light evokes different colors and moods. On any given day, the same piece of art may look completely different.”
Caroline works with fused glass; she first creates a pencil sketch on paper and then assembles the design concept, working with pieces of transparent, colored, dichroic, streaky or opaque glass. During this process, she makes slight decisions that may alter the finished work. The final effort features layers of glass, with clear or iridescent pieces over the colored foundation, so the actual look isn’t apparent until after the glass is fired. “Years of experience have given me an idea of what layers create what looks,” she explained. “I keep the glass properties in my head as I design.”
Caroline loves the Asian aesthetic, and her designs have an elegant simplicity that convey a range of impressions. Her art is sought after by corporations, hospitals and private collectors, and is also used by interior designers, as she produces household items such as mirrors and kitchen backsplashes. “Glass speaks to people in a different way than other art forms,” she said. “As the light changes the art is transformed, and that is endlessly compelling.”
Lion’s Tooth Herbals
603 969-4603, lionstoothherbals.com
It is fitting that Amanda Komisarek’s small studio looks over the river and woodlands, because her business is all about nature’s bounty. A naturalist, Amanda knows the healing power of myriad plants and herbs. She produces teas, extracts, essences and seasonally inspired body care products, and offers classes, lectures and personal consultations. Her products feature herbs that are hand-picked from wild local plants; they are fully organic and without synthetic ingredients. “It’s amazing what herbs can do,” she said. “The same herb can have hundreds of uses. We are just scratching the surface of our knowledge in this field.”
“Lion’s Tooth is another name for dandelion,” Amanda laughed. “It has always been my favorite flower, even as a child. All parts of the dandelion are edible. The roots are good for the liver. The leaves help the kidneys and lower blood pressure without leeching potassium from the body. They also aid the skin, and relieve aches and pains. The flower is good pickled or stir-fried. It’s an amazing plant!”