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Water Street Commercial and Industrial Buildings

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Buildings farther south along on South Water Street exemplify commercial and industrial elements in its varied mix. The rusticated concrete block Moyes Garage (c. 1915), at number 320, now used for storage, is a period type in a period material. Opposite, along the river side of the street, begins a row of small factory buildings, ranging in date from the 1830s to the 1870s, typical of those that catered to ships and their cargoes. Although all have been rebuilt, they retain enough of their original aspect to provide perhaps Rhode Island's best-preserved row of seaport factory buildings dating from the age of sail and early steam. The Mechanics Machine Shop, also known as the Old Dye House for a later operation (c. 1870 with a later extension), at 321–325 Water Street, offers a nice example of late-nineteenth-century industrial brickwork with well-proportioned openings. Next come two rubblestone Greek Revival factories, plastered over. The first, J. J. Smith (c. 1840), at number 337, was a warehouse for whale oil; Stubb's Wharf oysters took over. The other (1842), with a low trapdoor monitor that has been sealed, was built as the Gardner-Brown Mill for whale processing and became Cladding's Sail Loft and eventually another oyster operation. Finally, and especially interesting as the earliest in the row, is Marble's Forge, in random masonry (1830s). Most of this range is now owned by the Blount family. As variously enterprising as Captain Caleb Carr, the Blounts are boatbuilders specializing in medium-sized excursion boats and ferries, excursion operators from a dock at the end of the row, fish processors, and (as an offshoot of invention in conjunction with their boat building) purveyors of mini–flush toilets.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


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William H. Jordy et al., "Water Street Commercial and Industrial Buildings", [Warren, 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, 457-457.

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