Grant Mill

A Window into Providence's Past

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 structure. At that time, it was one of many mills in southern New England owned by B.B. & R. Knight, one of the largest textile manufacturers in the country whose flagship brand was “Fruit of the Loom.” The textile industry waned with a loss of jobs to the South, where labor was cheaper and union organization weak. The jewelry maker Blacher Brothers took over the site in 1935. The Blacher brothers were the sons of Russian Jewish coppersmith David Blacher who arrived in Providence with his family in 1900. The firm became an influential incubator of craft and innovation, and even produced munitions at this site during World War II. Makers of shoe buckles, handbag frames and other items, the company survived into the 1980s. Today, Grant Mill has been repurposed into condominiums, a crucial form of adaptive reuse for a city burdened with vacant industrial space. Historic tax credits have aided many of these buildings to find new life.

Images

Map

299 Carpenter Street, Providence, RI 02909