R&H Simon Silk Mill

R&H Simon Silk Mill

In the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the Lehigh Valley was a well-known home for two booming industries: silk and steel. This began during the end of the Industrial Revolution, and both industries were thriving, but one didn’t last as long as the other. The silk industry rapidly found itself unraveling. 

At its peak, Allentown was the number one silk city in America, but the industry began to slowly die with the Great Depression, in addition to the competition from the south where labor was cheaper. Plus, there was the appeal and popularity of synthetic fibers like nylon and rayon, which are less expensive and labor-intensive to manufacture. By 1953, the number of silk looms in the Lehigh Valley decreased 80 percent, leaving just six remaining.

But one of those mills—Easton’s R&H Simon Silk Mill—has a long story.

Brought to life by Robert and Herman Simon in 1883, the R&H Simon Silk Mill went from about 250 employees to some 2,000. Business was thriving, even after the death of the Simon brothers in 1901. The mill was managed by other people and corporations before the silk market dwindled. The factory completely stopped running around the late 1960s.

Fast-forward to decades later—2006—when a new hope came to the mill. The building was acquired by the Easton Redevelopment Authority with the intentions of turning it into a creative working space. In 2010, developers Mark Mulligan and William Vogt of VM Development took on the challenge to transform the mill. Construction finally began by mid-2015.

Right now, the mill is a thriving living and working space that includes high-end apartments in addition to several small businesses, making it a unique and dynamic community.

The shops are a diverse collection for sure, including a café and soon-to-be wine bar, a gallery and design studio, hair and makeup artistry, breweries, and more. Here’s a quick look at just a few current businesses living in the mill.


Rather than using makeup as a transformative tool, makeup artist, founder, and co-owner Alisha Nycole believes that it’s more about enhancing an individual’s natural structure and complexion. She carries that mantra on to her talented team of hair and makeup artists, making Alisha Nycole & Co. a name to know.

The group specializes in hair and makeup for brides and bridal parties plus photoshoots and TV prep, but they also offer teeth whitening, makeup lessons, and a whole array of other services (check out their Girls’ Night that includes wine/champagne, an artisan cheese platter, and a raffle to win a free makeover).

It seems the possibilities are endless when it comes to what the women of Alisha Nycole & Co. can do to make you feel like a more beautiful you. If it isn’t on their website, simply reach out and ask them. While most of the time they will come to you for your services, the beautiful bi-level and bright studio that houses the business is worth the trip.


Böser Geist, which means “evil spirit,” is the latest brewery to join the Lehigh Valley beer scene. Partners Erik Thomasik and Mike Platt began homebrewing 11 years ago. They’ve come a long way from a suburban set-up: Boser Geist boasts the second-longest bar in the Lehigh Valley, according to Erik. It measures 86 feet long.

Rather than dictating what their flagship beers will be, the brewery will base that decision on the opinions of thirsty patrons. After all, “the people are really what it’s all about,” Erik says. Specializing in super-smooth brews that belie their ABV, this budding brewpub is certainly worth a visit if you’re in town.

One beer that’s definitely in the works is “The Answer to Everything.” It’s a smooth and dark beer with rich malty flavors—and a whopping 30 percent ABV. It takes two years to age, with a release date planned for summer 2020.

Tucker Silk Mill

Australian native Jason Hoy and his business partner, culinary wizard Erin Taylor, bring an undeniably authentic Aussie flair to the mill. Tucker, Australian slang for “good food,” sources its products from local farms and producers, and are “sustainable and organic.” Nothing is frozen except for one thing—the organic ice cream used in the milkshakes.

While the menu changes seasonally and is dependent on fresh product availability, you can count on a selection of “toasties,” like classic avocado toast, a “relatively, but not diligently healthy” Australian and Southern Californian snack.

Also on the menu? Vegemite—an interesting spread that’s a byproduct of brewer’s yeast, which Foy describes as tasting like a “dark, rich, and malty porter-style beer.” Might be an acquired taste.

So why open a café in Easton, Pennsylvania, and why the Silk Mill? Jason’s wife’s work took them to New York, and later Pennsylvania. They found the mill to be “aesthetically fantastic” and were taken by how friendly the community is. Fun fact: Chaz and Tom from Brick and Mortar created Tucker’s signage, along with other aesthetics of their space.

This spring, Tucker Silk Mill will start an exciting new endeavor, making it café by day, wine bar by evening. Jason says that the space will “transform completely,” and visitors “won’t recognize it from day to night.” But for now, during these cold winter days, a nice cup of soup or a hot latte will do.

Brick + Mortar Art Gallery & Design Studio

Friends and fine artists Chaz Hampton and Tom D’Angelo have been putting their inventive minds together for about two and a half years. In that time, they had a studio and gallery in Easton’s Centre Square, but after their lease ran out this past April, they decided to move their business to the silk mill.

The high ceilings and natural light of the spot Chaz and Tom chose makes for a “dream studio.” The 3,000 square foot space is part gallery, part workspace, and the artists encourage visitors to pop in any day (although they aren’t always there on Sundays) to check out what’s being showcased and see what they are working on at the moment. Chaz and Tom’s projects could be anything from furniture to signage, and all kinds of other commissioned pieces. Hampton describes Brick and Mortar’s work to have a “handmade, artisan grassroots feel,” which is certainly seen in their work.

In the gallery, you can expect to find original pieces from local contemporary artists on display.

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