History

THE BEACON STORY

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All Blankets Are Not Created Equal

Charles D. Owen I

The Charles D. Owen family founded the Beacon Manufacturing Company in 1904 and established it in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Quickly known as “Beacon Blankets,” the company not only grew to become the nation’s largest blanket manufacturer, but one of the more iconic brands in the history of U.S. textiles.

At the beginning of the Great Depression, the Owen family moved the company to Swannanoa, North Carolina, a beautiful mountain community on the outskirts of Asheville. Interestingly, Mr. Owen had the company’s New Bedford factory meticulously deconstructed so that it could be moved by train and reassembled at its new home.  As it turned out, Beacon Blankets not only led the U.S. textile industry’s migration to the southern states, but its factory served as one of the region’s largest employers for nearly 75 years.

While politicians and economists will forever argue the macro-effects of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), there’s no debating its impact on the traditional, finished goods segment of U.S. textile manufacturing.  Compounded by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) lifting of international textile quotas (a much-awaited victory for developing countries), the U.S. industry essentially vanished, almost overnight. While Beacon Blankets hung in there longer than most, the company, then led by a second-generation employee named Tedd Smith, was forced to shut its doors in 2002.

 


What Goes Around Comes Around

Tedd Smith

Fifteen years later, Beacon Blankets has reemerged as Beacon Linens & More. And once again, Tedd Smith is the company’s president. With his partner Steve Hutcherson, the company’s chief executive, their long-term stewardship of the Beacon Blankets brand has paid off. Unique blends of raw materials continue to be selected and are now combined with modern manufacturing capability resulting in a blanket that surpasses the quality, comfort and value of the originals, many of which are now collector’s items trading for as much as $2,000 a piece.  Beacon Blankets now serve as the foundation of a far more diversified performance textile company. In addition to all the original Beacon designs, both classic and high performance Safe Haven Linens™ have been added to the company’s line-up.


Feeling is Believing

All Beacon products are finished with “great hand.” While our blanket rollout will be measured (there are literally a thousand blanket designs we can select from), all of the originals, plus our Classic Linens and new Safe Haven™ branded performance bedding are coming soon to your favorite retailer (both on- and offline, including direct to you through our own ecommerce site —www.beaconlinens.com).  All of our products are offered under a full satisfaction guarantee because you can’t fake comfort and quality.

 

Become Part of the Story

In 1923, Charles Owen II was traveling by train through the spectacular hill country near Asheville, North Carolina. He spotted a level tract of land in Swannanoa and decided to move his company there.

In fact, the company he founded helped establish the textile industry in the United States. Nearly 100 years later, Beacon Linens is not only resurrecting an iconic brand, but is committed to leading the reestablishment of specialty textile manufacturing in the U.S.  While we have a long way to go, we invite you to help us keep writing what truly is a great American story.

 

Beacon Blankets – Make Warm Friends

Beacon Blankets: Make Warm Friends
Jerry & Kathy Brownstein

Available Now

The largest blanket manufacturer under one roof in the United States by 1920 was the Beacon Manufacturing Company, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and later of Swannanoa, North Carolina. Cotton, wool, and blended blankets came off their looms in plain, geometric, and Indian designs by the millions. They were sold at dry goods stores and large orders were filled for American troops in the World Wars. This book displays a large selection of Beacon blankets and color catalog pages from 1917 to 1957, together with original blanket designs, a history of the company, advertisements, and all the Beacon labels. There are special sections on crib blankets, bathrobes using Beacon fabric, related blankets, and Skookum Indian dolls dressed in Beacon remnants. These blankets are diligently searched for by collectors of folk art and textiles because they represent a nearly-lost chapter in textile history and bring a sparkle of color to interior decoration.

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