In 1764, Thomas Olney established one of the first mill privileges along the Woonasquatucket River. Through the rise and fall of industries and technologies, we now have the Rising Sun Mills . The complex is named for the paper mill Olney’s son…

The Woonasquatucket River, with its generous drops and fast moving streams, was lined with textile factories in the early 19th century. Once textiles were made, they required dyeing and bleaching to be transformed into usable fabrics. In turn, a…

The modest sign remaining on Kinsley Avenue does not do justice to this former industrial behemoth. The contribution of machines, and the parts and tools needed to run them, can sometimes be lost on the consumer who purchases the end…

The US Rubber Company Mill has a complex history of ownership and use that stretches over 80 years. From its inception as the Joseph Banigan Rubber Company (1896-1910), through its acquisition and expansion as a regional plant of the US Rubber…

Prominent textile manufacturer Henry Lippitt, his wife and six children lived in this opulent Italian Renaissance Revival house, a testament to the burgeoning wealth of industrial Providence. Lippitt’s business ventures and investments proved so…

Rhode Island is perhaps inordinately proud of its superlatives and firsts: first to establish religious freedom, first to rebel against the British crown, longest hold-out before ratifying the newly minted Constitution.  And, in the 20th century,…

Grant Mill offers a window into Providence’s industrial past and an example of how the city’s industrial buildings have been repurposed for a changing economy. An earlier textile mill was replaced around World War I by this four-story brick…

This extravagantly embellished house is still called the Wedding Cake House in spite of its current desperate search for rehabilitation. The first owner John Kendrick was an inventor whose American Supply Company dominated the global market in loom…

Thomas Tew gained such renown for his exploits from 1692 until 1695 that he was nicknamed the Rhode Island Pirate. Tew, a privateer from Newport who turned to piracy, led two major voyages, and accrued more treasure than he could spend before he met…

Is it a stretch to see Benefit Street as a sweatshop for girls of the cultural elite? Probably; but it is interesting to note that in the years that Mary Balch’s School was teaching its young pupils the art of needlepoint, a young girl named Betsy…

Despite the rain, a troupe of bicyclists and mustached men costumed as knights, clowns, pages, and a prince paraded through the streets of Pawtucket. Thousands of people from Rhode Island and the adjoining states thronged the streets. For a week, all…

In the 1780s, a visitor traveling through the Blackstone River Valley might have smelled the rich aroma of roasting cacao beans wafting from a small wooden building as they passed through the hamlet of Central Falls. Americans consumed chocolate…

In 1980, up to $1.5 million worth of silver flowed from Providence factories into the Narragansett Bay, giving new meaning to the phrase “a waste of money.” Much of this silver originated from the electroplating firms located in the Huntington…

Rhode Island has a long history of industrial manufacturing. Slater Mill, on the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is considered  the “birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.” By the early 1800s, that fervor for…

Imagine walking around this site in 1899, when the Gorham Manufacturing Company was the most famous producer of silver utensils, tea services and decorative items in the world. In the central building, you could find offices, a museum of silverwork,…

In 1873, an economic depression gripped the country and threatened the future of the Gorham Manufacturing Company. The company’s skilled metalworkers and innovative designers had a reputation for creating quality goods, but none of these things…