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East Ryegate (Ryegate Paper Company Housing)
In 1903 the Ryegate Paper Company was organized in New Hampshire with a capital of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to take advantage of East Ryegate's waterpower on the Connecticut River, first developed by William Nelson in 1790 and 1808. Construction began in 1905, and the large two-story brick mill next to the river (now encased in many later and larger additions) opened September 1, 1906. The mill consumed twenty tons of pulp a day and produced as much newsprint and specialty papers. Beginning in 1906 the company built housing for its sixty employees and a company store on the terrace above the river plain, and established a water reservoir to serve the community on a hillside to the east (west of U.S. 5). Small wood-frame, one-and two-story residences were built in several stages through c. 1925, when production reached twenty-five tons daily and the mill employed more than one hundred people. The nearly two dozen houses on three sides of a long green occupied by the small Gothic Revival United Presbyterian Church (1917) is a rural version of the type of company housing more commonly found in developed areas. East Ryegate, like such other Connecticut River mill towns as Gilman and Beecher Falls, is a testament to the wood-products industry that developed as the great northern hardwood forests were harvested in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Ryegate paper mill provided employment through much of the twentieth century, even as nearby rural areas overall went into decline. From the 1960s on, the company began to sell the houses into private ownership. The mill has gone through several changes in ownership and its future is uncertain.
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