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Stafford Manufacturing Company Mill (John Kennedy Mill)

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John Kennedy Mill
1825. 581 Roosevelt Ave.

To the rear of this three-story mill with monitor roof, the Stafford cotton firm built its extension and other additions after acquiring the John Kennedy Mill in the middle of the century. The original Kennedy Mill, built at a time when factory construction in the state was generally moving from wood to masonry, is important as among the earliest extant brick mills in Rhode Island. In contrast to the early use of brick in Massachusetts factories, it is rare in Rhode Island before the Civil War, despite a few sizable outriders from mid-century and possibly James Bucklin's still unexplored early use of brick for some of his mills. Hence the extraordinary significance of this very early example, when the masonry thread mill behind it ( CF1), of exactly the same date, represented the progressive norm, while clapboarding was also widely employed. Masonry does occur in the granite trim of the broad, wall-like tower, as it continues in many other brick industrial walls after 1860 for functional and decorative purposes. Granite sills protect against weather; granite lintels span openings; granite frames resist hard use. But old drawings for fire insurance also show that the material was used here in a more purely decorative manner: a demolished setback bell cupola with trapezoidal openings was also in granite, capped by stepped block parapeting. Still ruggedly handsome, how much more so it must have been with its original capping, which also proclaimed its Greek Revival allegiance. The preservation of its full-windowed attic monitor marks the extent of the original Kennedy Mill because the Stafford Company extension did not continue it.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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