You are here


-A A +A

What became the textile manufacturing town of Saylesville began with a small cotton print works in the 1830s. William F. Sayles initiated its important history in the textile industry, however, when he purchased the bankrupt print works at auction in 1847. He converted it to a bleachery. A fire in 1854 forced the building of a new plant which, after 1863, when Frederic C. Sayles joined his brother in the firm, operated as the W. F. and F. C. Sayles Company. The Sayles brothers steadily expanded operations and from their home base acquired control of the Slater Cotton Company and the Lorraine Mill in Pawtucket, as well as the Glenlyon Dye Works in Phillipsdale, a village in East Providence, together with plants in Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, and elsewhere. In 1894, Frank Sayles, son of William, bought out his uncle's share of the business. Under his leadership, the business (finally known simply as the Sayles Finishing Company) became one of the largest cotton finishers in the country, the first to mercerize cotton thread, the first to print cotton and silk in fast color, and the first to finish organdies without starch and sizing which washed out. When Frank Sayles died in 1920, his company had 3,000 employees in widely dispersed plants throughout the eastern United States. His Saylesville operation was reputedly the largest bleachery in the world.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.