Burson Knitting Company

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Burson Knitting Company Soundex Code B625

222 Cedar Street

Rockford, Illinois.

Burson Knitting Company Automatic Knitting Machines

William Worth Burson formed a partnership with John Nelson in 1866, together they invented the parallel row knitting machine in 1872, which revolutionized the textile industry and this being the beginning of Rockford's great knitting industry. Burson withdrew from the business of Burson and Nelson in 1878. He would organize his own company, Burson Knitting Company in 1892 on the former site of the S.B. Wilkens Company at the foot of Cedar Street at the Rock River. Burson Knitting continued to grow and expand taking in much adjacent real estate in the process. They would construct concrete fireproof additions that would make it one of best and most modern plants in the city at that time. The five story building was constructed in 1907 for the offices and factory of the Burson Knitting Company on the Corner of South Main and Cedar Streets. The plant covered two city blocks and encompassed 165,000 square feet. One of the later expansions included the construction of a sixth floor.

Burson Knitting Company looks east on Cedar Street toward the Rock River.

Rockford industrialists Ralph Emerson, W.H. Ziock, and William E. Hinchcliff provided financing to William Worth Burson to start the Burson Knitting Company. The factory worked in shifts so the factory ran day and night. This plant employed many men but on an interesting note they employed more women during it's existence. Producing an annual output of 1,500 tons of product yearly.

The Burson goods gained a widespread reputation by means of a comprehensive campaign of advertising through trade magazines and consumer publications like newspapers and magazines and would also mail out pamphlets. Burson became a household name, the result being a surge in sales leading to an enlarged plant to meet the demand for a greater output of product.

The Burson Companies lights gleamed across the city throughout the hours of darkness. Special lighting was installed for the benifit of workers to better see the work and ease strain on the eyes.

In 1948 the Kendall Company of Boston, Massachusetts purchased the Burson Knitting Company and would expand the product line and make surgical hosiery along with the existing product line. Kendall would move Burson Knitting Company out of Rockford in 1959. The building remained vacant for some time until it was acquired by the Tapco Company. They would brick up the original windows except the sixth floor of the building and utilized it for storage until the company moved to a larger location.

After sitting vacant for many years and deteriorating and after all attempts to find a developer to renovate the building failed, the City of Rockford purchased the Burson/Tapco Building in 2010 and on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 the city started demolition of the crumbling structure with plans to expand Davis Park.