|About the Book|
Holyoke, Massachusetts, known as the Paper City of the World, was the First Planned City in the country. In 1900, there were more millionaires in Holyoke, per capita, than any other city in America. The Citys incredible success was due to hundredsMoreHolyoke, Massachusetts, known as the Paper City of the World, was the First Planned City in the country. In 1900, there were more millionaires in Holyoke, per capita, than any other city in America. The Citys incredible success was due to hundreds of factories operating continuously, making not only paper, but textiles, wire, turbines and other manchines, powered by a revolutionary energy system using water from the river, a dam that was at the time the largest anywhere, and three levels of canals built to circulate the water through the factories, providing power by turning waterwheels. One of the most successful businessess in the early days of Holyoke was the Skinner Silk Company, begun by William Skinner. With factories operating in Holyoke, and sales offices n New York City, the Skinner family members were known in high society as The Silk Barons of America. Belle Skinner was one of them. She was an unheralded leader in the worlds Womens Rights Movement. At the end of World War I, she began the American branch of the Village Liberes program in France, an organization formed to help rebuild French villages destroyed during the war. Miss Skinner adopted the medieval village of Hattonchatel in the north of France and rebuilt it with her familys money. Why she chose to restore the ancient Chateau and other buildings is a mystery. Perhaps it was because of its historical significance, or maybe she knew that several French kings, nobles, knights and monks lived in the Castle and Abby there. It was an intriguing place according to history and legends, dating back to Charlemagne. In June of 1922, while reconstructing the famous Chateau in the village, workers unearthed whatthe Paris newspapers of the time called Miss Skinners pot of gold, 400 rare Roman coins that Belle described as dating back to the tenth century, hundreds of years before Columbus sailed for America. This book is a brief history of the City of Holyoke, explaining in part why it bacame such a valuable gem of the Industrial Revolution. In addition, it is the true story of Belle Skinner, a remarkable woman who, taking what she learned from Holyoke, went out into the world and did in her life things others only dream of doing: building castles in the clouds.