Filed Under Mills

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

Grant Mill Building
Grant Mill Building This is an early view of the original Grant Mill building on Carpenter Street.
Fruit of the Loom Advertisement
Fruit of the Loom Advertisement An advertisement for Fruit of the Loom from the Board of Trade Journal of April 1910, shows the mills owned by the B.B.&R. Knight textile empire, including Grant Mill on the lower left. Source: Rhode Island Collection, Providence Public Library.
Jewelry Making Clamp
Jewelry Making Clamp This is a clamp used in the “Finding” department at the Blacher Brothers jewelry factory and a desk used by the Blacher brothers themselves at Grant Mill. Findings are the small, fine metalwork parts that hold a piece of jewelry together.
Grant Mill Contact Prints
Grant Mill Contact Prints This is a pair of contact prints with views of Grant Mill from a survey of historic buildings in Providence conducted in the early 1970s.

Location

299 Carpenter Street, Providence, RI 02909

Metadata

Taylor M. Polites, “Grant Mill,” Rhode Tour, accessed June 13, 2024, https://rhodetour.org/items/show/173.