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The Tannery was originally constructed on Mill Street in Princeton around 1860 and was located on the river close to the Peabody woolen mill. In the foreground of this photo are slabs of hemlock bark. The final process of tanning leather involved placing hides in vats of tannic acid. Hemlock bark was the preferred source of tannins in the Northeast at this time because of its high tannin content.
White, a lawyer from Belfast, and the Waterhouse brothers, John and Henry, were the builders and owners of the tannery. In 1866 Roscoe J. White, a son of the original White, was sole owner of the tannery. Roscoe White eventually sold the tannery to Thomas M. and William Plaisted. In 1872 the tannery is listed as owned by Wm. Plaisted & Son and was one of only a couple of mills in Princeton that survived the mill fires of 1864 and 1876. By 1883 the tannery was being operated by W. F. Shaw Bros. and finally, 1899 was the last year it was listed in the Maine Register as a manufacturer in the Town of Princeton.