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 “achieved an importance unrelated to its size” providing services for surrounding villages. Check out the village square in the next block up the street, and the 1871 Phenix Hotel which still exists. Outside of Providence, Phenix was THE place to shop in the 1800s until Arctic surpassed it!
A spinning mill was built here next to the river by the Roger Williams Manufacturing Company in 1809. It burned in 1821. The Phenix Company rebuilt, and added a new stone mill in 1821 along with a water wheel and force pump for fire protection; but the company failed in 1830 and was bought by a new partnership that produced what was said to be the first 2¼-to 3-yard wide sheeting made in the country.
Additional construction by 1882 produced a mill 328’ X 43’, capable of operating 21,536 spindles and 430 looms. The 122 by 192-foot weave shed across the street was built in 1902.
Textile manufacturing continued until 1960 when the factory was purchased by a pharmaceutical company, Scott Laboratories. It later housed various other manufacturers, including Adams Scientific, a biotech company that moved out in 1994. In the summer of 1995, fire destroyed one of the complex’s smaller buildings, which Adams Scientific had used. By 2003 the mill was vacant and sold at tax sale for $1. Then, on March 30, 2005 the main four-story building burned to the ground.
The remaining three-story building is now condominiums and the weave shed across the street is occupied by Ricci Furniture.