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Manville Mill Tenements

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c. 1890. Crossed by Winter, Summer, and Spring sts., between Fall and Park sts. and River Rd.

Although long, continuous blocks of row housing for mill workers are not unknown to Rhode Island, they are much less common than independent blocks containing duplexes or at most four units (which are often disguised as duplexes). Not only is the housing here in long brick rows; some of it employs a format which is unique in the state. Many of these rows show low, narrow, two-story units containing paired doors alternating with full two-and-one-half-story, end-chimney, four-bay blocks—thereby presenting something of a compromise between the continuous row and the discontinuous block. The blocks are split across the center, side to side, and longitudinally, end to end, to divide them into two-story quadrants. Each door serves as the entry to its flanking quadrant. Exterior alternation of door-unit/house-unit gives the long blocks a more human scale. Seven in a total of eight rows were purchased in the 1960s by a developer, who transformed them from mill housing to apartments, prettifying them with varied facings and nondescript Neo-Colonial detail. The one remaining row between Summer and Spring streets in the northeast corner of the site maintains its original brick-with-stone-trim character, although it does not show the alternation of lower door element with taller window block of the most interesting of these rows. Trees, grass, and drying yards between the rows have been substantially lost to parking. Even so, the intent of the project is still evident. It was the Manville Company's final effort at large-scale mill housing.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Manville Mill Tenements", [Manville, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 202-202.

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