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Jenckes Mills

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1822, addition 1901 (No. 1 Mill). 1828 (No. 2 Mill and Mill St. Bridge). 96 Mill St., 767 Social St.

Though much obscured by remodeling and/or subsequent enlargement, these two stone industrial buildings, with their clerestory monitor lighting in the roofs, are the oldest extant remaining Woonsocket mill buildings. Built by three Jenckes brothers, who had earlier invested in the Social Mills, these buildings formed the nucleus of the village of Jenckesville on Peter's River.

Located at what was the upper privilege of Peter's River and built originally to produce cotton cloth, No. 1 Mill ( WO5.1), with its random masonry walls, must have seemed, even before its near eclipse by the larger brick addition of 1901, much less imposing than the only slightly later No. 2 Mill ( WO5.2), built of nearrectangular granite blocks. (About 1901 Joseph Guerin, a Belgian who was among the French-speaking European entrepreneurs attracted to Woonsocket in the early twentieth century, established his Guerin Spinning Company in No. 2 Mill.) Although the Social Street side of the second building and three sides of its tower have been covered with vinyl siding, it is still possible to appreciate the quality of the rugged construction of this mill from the rear, where three-quarters of the old building pops from this sheathing. All windows and the narrow monitor on the gable ridge are blinded, but the walls and overall shape remain. The size and regularity of the granite blocks is emphasized by the length of the corner quoins and of the headers over the windows. The two mills together with the dam (subsequently redone in concrete) that powered the No. 2 Mill and the bridge, whose stone-arched substructure still supports the revamped roadway, give some idea of the disposition of this early mill complex.

The three-story brick double house at 837–839 Social Street was a Jenckes mansion. Beneath the tier of porches which marks its conversion to a triple-decker is a grand Federal house. Housing at 752 and 842 Social Street also remains from the original village.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Jenckes Mills", [Woonsocket, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WO5.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 225-226.

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