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Bradford Mill

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1864, c. 1912, mill buildings. Mid-19th–early 20th century, housing. Main St. (Route 91–216) (mill), Bowling Ln. (housing)

Originally named Dorrville for the leader of the so-called Dorr Rebellion, the town subsequently changed its name with changes in corporate landlord: first to Niantic, for the Niantic Company; then, after 1911, when an English company took over, Bradford, to honor the textile manufacturing town which housed its headquarters. The plant offers the clear contrast of a typical mid-nineteenth-century verticalized masonry factory building and a typical early twentieth-century horizontal brick counterpart. Windows in walls light the narrow floors of the earlier building; north-facing skylights in the sawtooth roof light the expansive floor of the later building. As for the mill workers' housing which lines Bowling Lane, aficionados who manage to look beyond the dilapidation of much of it will see a range of mill housing types from late Greek Revival (including a modified church) through (the most interesting) shingled hip-roofed duplexes inspired by early twentieth-century English new towns, built after the Bradford organization moved in. (Indeed, “Bowling Lane” smacks of more British renaming.) Close to its dead end is a large stucco and sparsely half-timbered mansion on landscaped grounds that must once have housed the plant manager.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Bradford Mill", [Westerly, 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, 417-418.

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