The Ames Shovel Shops, also known as just Ames Shovel Shop, is a historic 19th century industrial complex located in North Easton, Massachusetts. It is part of the North Easton Historic District, and consists of several granite buildings constructed between 1852 and 1885, along with several newer additions and outbuildings dating to about 1928.
In April 2009, the shops were named one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in the United States, by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, due to the pending proposal to redevelop the main portion of the site into residences.
The Ames Shovel Company traces its origins to 1774 when Captain John Ames began making iron shovels at West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. His son Oliver moved the company to North Easton in 1803. In 1844, the elder Ames would transfer the shovel business to two of his sons, Oakes and Oliver, Jr., and the company would become known as Oliver Ames & Sons. Within the next few years, gold would be discovered in California in 1848, and in Australia in 1851, creating a worldwide demand for the company’s shovels, which were already known for their high quality.
In 1851, the original shovel shop was destroyed by fire. The company would soon rebuild, and by 1852 the first of the new shops had been completed. Strong demand for shovels would continue through this period with the great expansion of railroads and later the American Civil War, making the Ames brothers very wealthy men. The Ames brothers entered politics and became influential in financing the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the development of the village of North Easton. Expansion of the shovel factory continued over the years until 1928.
Ames shovels became standard issue for troops in the U.S. Army for every conflict from the American Civil War to Korea.
Dave Skill’s 7-part Series on Ames Shovel Shop airs weekdays from August 11th-19th at 5:27 a.m., 9:11 a.m. and during the Midday Report at noon on 95.9 WATD
Click below to listen to the features, added daily:
Pictures by Dave Skill