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United States Flax Company (Fales and Jenks Machine Works)

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Fales and Jenks Machine Works
1863 and later. 27 Foundry St. (at Railroad St.)

Consider the location: roughly halfway between the clusters of factories at Central Falls and Valley Falls, this was the first major factory in the town to ignore the river for the railroad. Because it fronts the railroad cut rather than the street, from Foundry and Railroad streets one clearly sees an end of the plant only; enough, however, to ascertain its high quality. (The main front of the plant is visible from High Street, at the truncated stub of Foundry Street.)

The long brick building is beautifully preserved, with granite trim, a narrow trapdoor monitor (now mostly blinded) running its full length, a crenellated tower, and virtually all sash intact. It belongs to the same generation as the post–Civil War brick plants to the rear of the Roosevelt Avenue cluster (CF1)—and is the finest of the lot. The stack of loading doors is divided only by heavy granite spanning elements which simultaneously provide a sill for the door above while capping the door below. As the stack reaches the gable, the width of the topmost door is slightly reduced, and one can discern the filled-in trace of its vertical extension by a window-sized opening. So originally the stack of openings tapered to accord with the gable pitch. Inside, diagonal bracing in four directions off many of the timber supports augments customary post-and-beam construction. It is designed to counter the bending moments of heavy machinery on the floor beams by providing the columns with intermediate props. The complex barely functioned as a machinery plant, however, before its conversion to textiles (see Central Falls introduction).

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


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William H. Jordy et al., "United States Flax Company (Fales and Jenks Machine Works)", [Central Falls, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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