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Slatersville Mill

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1806. 1826, replaced. 1843, second mill building. 1894, weaving shed. Off Railroad St.

In front of the lineup of church, green, elite houses, town hall, stores, and mill housing, the land drops precipitously to the mill. During the nineteenth century, a mill complex of the same scale also existed on the other (west) side of Railroad Street. What now remains was then locally referred to as “Center Mill” to differentiate it from the “Western Mill.” (When cotton manufacturing in Slatersville gave way to bleaching and dyeing after 1900, the Western Mill became redundant. It was eventually destroyed, except for two minor stone buildings, one of which (c. 1850) now houses the North Smithfield Public Library, on Main Street.)

From the original 1806 Center Mill complex, which burned in 1826, all that remains is a long, one-and-one-half-story clapboard adjunct building in the millyard with the trapdoor type of roof monitor typical of early mills. The owners immediately replaced the destroyed mill, on the same site apparently, with a four-story block (five at the rear), which now dominates the factory cluster. It has a slightly pitched gable roof and attached entrance and stair tower, all handsomely crafted in dressed granite blocks, with a well-proportioned relationship between wall and window. The rugged granite contrasts with the very refined, if straightforward, carpentry of the window sash. During the 1980s especially, when this mill was left to storage and eventually vacated, much of the sash seriously deteriorated. The wooden cupola capping the mill's projecting stair tower once contained the other bell in town: the workday bell in the hollow, the sabbath bell above.

In 1842 a stone building behind the 1826 mill also burned. It was replaced in the following year by a sizable, if somewhat less refined, three-story granite building on the same site, which went through the same process of deterioration as its companion in front. Finally, the large two-story brick weave shed of 1894 completed the Center Mill complex. The beautifully crafted raceway with substantial remnants of Kendall's landscaping, some of it now overgrown, is also evident. At this writing, new owners promise restoration of the granite buildings, and none too soon to rescue the very heart of this handsome village.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Slatersville Mill", [North Smithfield, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-NS29.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 247-248.

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