MANCHESTER, N.H. — On a day dedicated to the “Grand Old Flag,” Manchester got a new “Great Flag” that pays tribute to both veterans and the city’s textile manufacturing history.
In June 1914, workers at the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company gathered for a photo in front of a 95-foot-by-50-foot American flag outside the mill where they had spun thread, woven and dyed fabric and sewn it into a 200-pound banner with 47-inch wide stripes and stars that spanned 3 feet across. On Wednesday — Flag Day — several hundred members of the public recreated the photo with a new flag unfurled against the former mill building.
Some were relatives of the mill workers depicted in the 103-year-old photo. Dan LaFleur, 64, of Manchester, brought his young grandson after learning just the day before that his grandfather was pictured leaning from one of the mill building’s windows in the antique photo.
“I believe he worked in this building,” he said. “He was strict, very nice though. He was a hard worker. In 1914, I think he was in his early 20s, and had migrated from Canada. So this is exciting today.”
The event was organized by the building’s owner, Brady Sullivan Properties, which made donations to the Manchester Historic Association and Liberty House, which helps homeless veterans.
The original flag was sent to a Chicago department store and hasn’t been seen in decades, said John Clayton, executive director of the historic association. An archivist with Marshall Field & Co. told him that the store had a flag fitting the description of Manchester’s “Great Flag” on display in a 14-story atrium in 1950, but guessed that when Alaska and Hawaii later became states, it was disposed of properly.
“For all we know, the photo has outlived the Great Flag itself,” Clayton said.
Chris Pappas, who serves on the governor’s Executive Council, said the flag symbolizes patriotism, the sacrifices of veterans and the greatness of the city and the mill workers who came to the U.S. in search of better lives.
“We have many new Americans who are here in the city of Manchester, and so I hope as it was back in 1914, this flag will on display here will be a source of pride and hope for those new Americans as it is for all Americans who call the Queen City home.”
This story has been corrected to show the length of the flag is 95 feet, not 90 feet.