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Mapleville and the adjacent mill village of Oakland are at the mouths of the Chepachet and Clear rivers respectively, where they join to make the Branch River (a major tributary of the Blackstone). From the south, Victory Highway enters Mapleville at a triangle crammed with buildings, among them (now hidden behind a garage) a virtually unrecognizable Friends Meeting House (1791 and later; much altered as a residence). An abrupt dip brings one past workers' housing of various vintages, provided by various mill owners, which, though mostly altered, is interesting in part for this reason; then on down to the mills and river. The “upper mill” is a hodge-podge of buildings extending back to the 1860s and possibly earlier, but dominated by early twentieth-century building, while the “lower mill” is wholly c. 1900; neither is of great architectural interest. The history of mill ownership in Mapleville is varied and vexed. Suffice it to say, in 1841 Darius Lawton built the original textile mill at Mapleville, a small affair for cotton yarn and warps, which turned to wool in 1853 and burned in 1871. Another owner built the lower mill. Both came under the control of James Legg in 1867, then of Joseph E. Fletcher in 1900. Enlightened owners, they enlarged the mills and were so much concerned about village amenities that Mapleville came to be regarded as something of a model town, although it is not easily decipherable as such today. Indeed, it was never envisioned as an entity, but grew as a sequence of piecemeal “improvements.” After Fletcher's death in 1924, Austin Levy (see under Harrisville) brought the mills into his Stillwater Worsted complex.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.

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