Pacific Mills vs. Lawrence, Mass. Assessors 1886-88

This collection documents the law suit waged between the Pacific Mills in Lawrence and the Assessors’ Office from 1886-88.  It includes evidence, testimony and arguments.

The tax case of the Pacific Mills against the Assessors of the City of Lawrence began with the rereading of a Massachusetts law.  “The law provides that a city may levy a tax upon the ‘plant’ – the buildings and machinery, of any manufacturing corporation located therein; then, if the market value of the whole number of shares exceeds the value of the plant, the state is entitled to levy a tax on such excess, such tax to be finally returned to the cities and towns where the stock is held, pro rata on the shares.”  (Lawrence Daily American October 16, 1886)   The disagreement started in 1886 and culminated in a hearing that ran from December of 1887 through March of 1888.  The tax had not been recently increased nor had the corporation complained that it was too high.  The plant of the Pacific Mills is believed to have cost 8 to 9 million dollars.  The Lawrence assessment was 4 million.  The Massachusetts Tax Commissioner (Charles Endicott) found the present market value to be less that the 4 million so he set the figure at $2,475,000 and stated that Lawrence tax only this amount.  The corporation demurred to pay Mr. Endicott’s and the City of Lawrence’s demands, suggesting a lower figure.  Pacific Mills petitioned the Count Commissioners on appeal from the assessors.  They asked for a reduction of taxes assessed for the year 1886.  A similar petition was brought for 1887.  A. E. Stone, Esq. was employed as counsel with the City Solicitor, William Knox.  Knox directed the litigation and after a prolonged trial the valuation of the Assessors was upheld.  Pacific Mills did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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