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Pontiac Mill

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1863 and later. 333 Knight St.

This expansive complex, the chief relic of Warwick's important role in nineteenth-century textile manufacturing, is one of the most visually striking factories in a state noted for its many architecturally significant industrial buildings. The mill is squeezed onto a wedge-shaped site in a serried range of rectangular masses strung on a long east-west axis. The centerpiece is Mill No. 1 (1863), a brick block identified by a fine Neo-Romanesque stair tower with blind arcading and chamfered corners. Mills No. 2 and No. 3 (1870), to the west, and Storehouse No. 1 (1874), to the east, are constructed of rubblestone covered in stucco scored to imitate ashlar masonry, with rusticated door and window surrounds of brick, a treatment very baroque in character. The river frontage contrasts dramatically with the wide street side. Here the triangular plot bordering the Pawtuxet is given over to a picturesque jumble of structures in assorted states of disrepair, diverse in height, roof form, and material, variously oriented to the river or the main block of the mill. The rich display of angles, shapes, and textures, coupled with the aura of decay, creates an atmospheric panorama.

The present mill replaced a series of factories on this site dating back as far as 1810. It formed part of the empire of B. B. and R. Knight, one of the largest and most prosperous cotton textile firms in Rhode Island. Here the Knight brothers manufactured an exceptionally fine fabric marketed under the trademark Fruit of the Loom. The name survives, though the operation originally responsible for it has long since passed away.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Pontiac Mill", [Warwick, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WA13.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 322-323.

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