In September 1813 Lowell and his partners purchased the Boies Paper Mill in Waltham for $1000. The ten foot drop in the river, the large natural lake above the falls, and the proximity of the Great Country Road helped make this an ideal location. A skilled master mechanic from the town of Amesbury, Paul Moody, was hired to construct the textile machinery and oversee the building of the mill. Paul Moody guaranteed the success of the BMC by constructing the first successful American power loom and went on to provide the company with one new technological breakthrough after another.
Construction on the mill was completed in November 1814, and by the following year cloth manufactured in Waltham was for sale in Boston. This marked a major turning point in the Industrial Revolution. For the first time anywhere in the world, all of the processes of manufacturing cotton cloth were performed under one roof using machinery operated by power.
Because Waltham did not have a large laboring force, the mill owners imported young farm girls from the surrounding area to come to Waltham to work the machines. The mill girls, as they came to be known, lived in company houses supervised by older women who were employed by the company as substitute mothers. This system of providing supervised, company owned boarding houses for young women employees (utilized to an even greater extent by the Watch Factory) became known nationwide as the Waltham System.
The mill girls employed by the Boston Manufacturing Company worked approximately eighty hours per week. At 4:40 in the morning the factory bell would awaken the workers. They would report to work at 5:00 and have a half hour breakfast break at 7:00 a.m. They would then work until the half hour to forty-five minute lunch break at noon time. At 7:00 p.m. the factory would shut down and the workers would return to their company houses. This routine was followed six days a week.
In 1818 a second larger mill was constructed next to the original building and one year after the struggling Waltham Cotton and Wool Factory was purchased for $16,000. A new brick cotton mill was built on this site as was a large brick bleachery. The Waltham Bleachery and Dye Works remained in business until 1951 when the buildings were taken over by Raytheon. People who live in the neighborhood around the Waltham Bleachery still refer to the area as the Bleachery section of Waltham.