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French Worsted Company Mills

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c. 1907. 153 Hamlet Ave.

The remaining Woonsocket mills are late nineteenth- and mostly early-twentieth-century brick mills on either side of Hamlet Avenue, stretched along the Blackstone River, three to five stories, almost flat roofed, constructed in the pier-and-spandrel mode of the period. The extant twentieth-century mills built on the north side of Hamlet Avenue for the Lafayette Worsted Company and those on the south side for the French Worsted Company both had French owners who imported the latest in French spinning technology. They are the most substantial evidence of Aram Pothier's success in wooing French and Belgian industry to Woonsocket. In the case of the Lafayette mill, the complex itself is known to be of French design. In contrast to Charles Loridan's straightforward treatment of the mill, his design for the red brick company office with lavish granite trim offers French-inspired chateauesque flourishes which, by local mill office standards, are decidedly lavish: a basement striped in the two materials, pilastered walls with the suggestion of end pavilions, panels, and parapet, all topped by a mansard with decorated dormers, bull's-eye windows, and chimneys. It flaunts French expertise in matters of taste. Across the street, the French Worsted Company mill office, now a restaurant, was another nationalistic effort to show how things should be done—this more sculptural, with rusticated brick piers, giant keystones and brackets, and a floating pediment. Beside the very rational design of the mills, the offices seem intended to remind all who enter that here is a bit of French culture, here is style.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "French Worsted Company Mills", [Woonsocket, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-WO8.

Print Source

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

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