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Oakland

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Mapleville is connected to Oakland by the linear arrangement of buildings along Victory Highway. Whereas Mapleville grew in higgledy-piggledy clusters, Oakland exhibits a gridded street pattern with well-spaced houses off the main road (Victory Highway). It remains among the more ordered mill villages, partly because of its slightly elevated site looking into wooded hills rising from the opposite side of the Branch River (which up to this writing have miraculously remained wooded), partly because of the unusually high architectural ambitions of owners who successively contributed to the town, and partly because of better than average maintenance, which has persisted down to the present. The town began when John L. Ross built a stone mill here in 1850. He continued in ownership (sometimes leasing to others) until 1892, when the Wanskuck Company, owned by the Metcalf family in Providence, took over. They ran the mill as the Oakland Worsted Company until 1957. Textile manufacture continued through most of the 1960s, until in 1973 the mill was sold to a used machine dealer. Like Mapleville, Oakland was long known as a model mill village; it had gravity-fed drinking water, sewers, and lights installed by the Wanskuck Company in 1894—much like the improvements Joseph Fletcher brought to Mapleville after 1900. Under Wanskuck auspices, too, there was considerable new building and upgrading of old.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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