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Mill Overseers' Housing

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1810–1820. After 1915, restored and altered. 4–40 Green St.

What one expects of the idyllic New England village! A white carpentered church dominates its green, overlooked by white clapboard houses. The sight, however, is rare in Rhode Island, because the tradition of freedom of worship eliminated both the communitarian basis for a village green and its dominion by any single church. So the green is actually no more than a small village park, and the Congregational church was built by the Episcopalian Slater family for the work force at the factory. But the image remains. Moreover, no other Rhode Island village has more appropriately placed in a compact gathering, and in such essentialist architectural form, the symbols of its being. The green is a level place close to the edge of the ridge with roads angling steeply up and more gently down to it. At its base the green triangle opens to the Greek Revival church with double-doored Doric portico and simple three-stage steeple, now too stubby, but taller and more commanding before its rebuilding after the 1938 hurricane. As is often the case, the medium-steep pitch of the roof lifts the pediment toward a gable. As is also characteristic of the Greek Revival, tongue-and-groove boarding (and putty) do their best to give a stonelike planarity to the front, whereas the rest of the walls are clapboarded. The light brought into the simple, preserved, but partly altered interior by rows of four windows in each of the side elevations is blocked from one of them, where a window has been converted to a door in order to link the church to a well intentioned, but clumsily obtrusive, parish house of the early 1980s.

A row of six identical five-bay, center-chimney Federal houses lines one leg of the triangular park on Green Street. They accommodated mill overseers. The entrance porches with half-hipped roofs are Kendall additions to add charm to barebones mill housing.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Mill Overseers' Housing", [North Smithfield, 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, 245-246.

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