New Bedford has long been conflicted about its historical identity. The city has been, at different times, a world leader in extracting energy from whales and in using energy to produce textiles. Despite a relative lack of physical reminders of…

The failure of the Howland Mill Village experiment may have been the final straw for New Bedford mill owners. By the end of the 19th century, they had decided to get out of the landlord business. Along with the financial and management burden of…

“The American holly is quite common here,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. “I heard a lark sing, sweet and strong, and heard robins.” Thoreau, a naturalist and philosopher and author of Walden, was describing the rural North End estate of his friend…

On July 13, 1969, physician and chronicler of Black life Dr. Carl Russell Gross opened the Evening Bulletin, clipped the photograph seen here, and placed it into a file marked “Military.” In the photo, we get a glimpse of Major General Roger…

When the US Naval Academy in Annapolis was created by an Act of Congress in 1845, its admissions policies were codified into law. Members of Congress have the privilege of personally nominating the majority of candidates in each class. This is the…

It was Monday, April 23, 1928. The Providence Public School Committee was holding its regular meeting at Central Fire Station on the eastern edge of Burnside Park. The room was packed. Charity Bailey (1904-1978), an accomplished pianist and recent…

In a 1936 Providence Journal exhibition review, the work of college student Mary Howard (1908-2011) fascinated art critic Robert Wheeler. He wrote, “It will be a strange thing if this young artist doesn’t go on a long journey. There is a rough vigor…

For the better part of the 20th century, the Occomy family called 85 John Street their home. Walter Calvert Occomy and Nellie White Occomy, noted humanitarians and members of the city’s Black churches, purchased the house in 1914 and it was a hub of…

This site was famous during the revolution for an iron forge called Hope Furnace (across the street from the mill) which declined after 1800 to be replaced by the Hope cotton mill.  The Hope Furnace was initiated by Governor Stephen Hopkins, and the…

Rhode Island Governor Charles Jackson built the first cotton mill here in 1825.  By the late 1880s the mill was owned by Christopher Lippitt and Company and produced sheeting.  Fifty workers were employed and 120 broad looms were in operation. By…

From cotton and bookcloth to fuel cells, films and printing media these two 150 year old mills are state-of-the-art! The Arkwright Company of Coventry, R.I. began in 1810 as a textile mill owned by James DeWolf. Two mill buildings were constructed,…

Although the mill across the street is gone, what you see behind the Harris Mill Lofts sign is a classic example of the evolution of a mill over 150 years, starting small and adding on and on. Between the street and the river a two-story spinning…

Like every other mill you are visiting, Phenix Mill was “paternalistic” providing necessities such as housing, utilities, fuel, churches, civic organizations and education.  Shopping and professional services grew along with the village and Phenix…

Built in 1809, Lippitt Mill is one of the most important mills in the state, and was one of the oldest American textile mills still in operation until, in 2011, when a bad main valve flooded the second floor with 300 gallons of water a minute,…

“A prettier mill you will not find.”  Built in 1873 the Italianate Anthony Mill has the distinction of being one of the best mills – architecturally speaking – in the entire state.  When it was built, it was the largest building in Rhode Island.  At…

This mill in the village first named Greeneville, then Taftville, and finally Quidnick after one of its reservoirs upstream, became the jewel of the Sprague textile empire, one of the most important firms in Rhode Island economic and industrial…

Crompton Mill, home of the “Velvet Mills,” the first U.S. company to manufacture velveteens and corduroys, by 1888 employed 600 and operated 40,000 spindles and 1,000 looms in buildings on the west and east side of the river.  Sadly the west…

This Centreville Mill complex saw 18 new owners from 1794 to 2004 and an explosion and fire in 1871 but, at one time, it had 31,000 spindles and 700 broad looms!  At various times it manufactured print book cloth, fancy cassimeres, and braid.  Along…

Few historic Rhode Island textile companies have survived to the present; but Arctic Mill was home for a number of years to global NATCO Home the 12th largest home textiles supplier.  It is still a family owned company which was founded four…

The mills here at Riverpoint, where the North and South Branches meet, experienced more fires, floods, construction episodes, strikes and changes of ownership than just about anywhere.  The textiles are long gone but now they house beautiful…

From “Kentucky Jeans” to “Fruit of the Loom” to the world’s most popular soaps and cosmetics, the “lower mill” at Riverpoint has seen a lot of fame! The Greene Manufacturing Company built a small spinning mill here on the South Branch just above its…

Unfortunately the Natick Mill burned down in 1941 but we include this site on the tour because by 1883 the four original buildings had been joined into a single entity and further extended until it stretched 1,350 feet with a uniform height of six…

In between a fire, seven new owners, labor strikes, and financial failures, this original home of the iconic “Fruit of the Loom” brand was very successful, but shut down in 1970 and is now just a nice place to live. The mill produced uniforms for…