In 1914, the chair factory closed and the building was advertised for sale at auction. 


Howard F. Thurston purchased the building and set up dowel manufacturing machines in the 125 by 40 feet building.  It was the largest dowel mill and glue pin mill in Bethel. 


There are some further questions to be looked up and answered as to the sale of the mill building by the Town of Bethel. When first constructed in 1886, the town rented the building to James Barrows and later continued to rent it to the Bethel Chair Co, followed by the Bethel Manufacturing Co.


During the World War II years, the mill was in full production.  (As a youngster I was in awe at the sight of this huge space in full operation.  Powered overhead shafts were spinning pulleys that connected to saw tables and dowel machines on the factory floor.  It seemed as I remember it that the far end of the factory was beyond sight lost in the haze of wood dust.)


On the side of the building facing Railroad Street was painted a sign which read H. F. Thurston & Son.



One afternoon in the fall of 1944 a fire broke out in the vicinity of the  boiler room.  The mill quite quickly was destroyed. 




















December 27, 2008

H.F. Thurston & Son


Hugh D. Thurston (1886-1966)


Written in 1931: Hugh D. Thurston is one of the wide awake young business men of the town. Born in Newry, Maine November 25, 1886, the son of Tena May (Littlehale) and the late Howard F. Thurston, he received his education in the town schools and at Hebron Academy.

On November 27, 1914 he married Miss Alma Cook of Standish and they have two sons, Howard F., 2nd, and Dale C.

On completing his education he worked two years for the Brown Company, and following that was in the employ of the Merrill Springer Co. at West Bethel for five years. He came to Bethel in 1919 and became associated with his father in the mill located at the lower end of the village. This large mill for the making of dowels and glue pins is the H.F. Thurston & Son property and has a large yearly manufacture of these commodities. The market for the enormous output of this mill is all parts of the United States and some foreign countries.  Mr. Thurston is his own manager and travels widely in promoting trade.

He is interested in local politics and a member of the Bethel Lions Club.

Several years ago Mr. Thurston purchased the Horace Andrews house, and moved it to a spacious lot on Elm Street and converted it into a handsome and well fitted home.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Thurston are prominent in educational and dramatic affairs of the town and can always be depended on to do their generous share.

The 1886 chair factory turned dowel mill burned down in 1944. 



Compiled by

Donald G. Bennett

PO Box 763

Bethel, Maine 04217

Contact me

Above: 1968 aerial photo of Bethel rail depot area.   (1) Bethel Grand Trunk rail station.   (2)  Chair Factory location [1886-1944].  (3)  Main Street.  (4)  Intersection of Cross Street and Route 26.  (5) SAD 44 school  bus garage in 2008.

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Above:  This is a Google Earth image probably taken late 2003 or early 2004.  (1)  Former chair factory site. 

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Bethel Chair Co


Bethel Manufacturing  Co


H F Thurston & Son


Site location photos