Hope Mill

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 Browns, the well-known wealthy merchants of Providence, along with other partners in 1765.  It was named in honor of Hope Brown, mother of the four Brown brothers, Nicholas, Joseph, John and Moses who founded Brown University and Moses Brown School. 

The furnace starting making bar (“pig”) iron and nails, then, during the Revolution, cast cannons and cannon balls.  The vast number of Hope cannon went to privateers (pirates) outfitting their commerce raiders in Northern seaport towns to attach British ships.  Between 1778 and 1781 about 3,000 high quality cannon were produced for military and naval use.  Eight of these field pieces were in a battery used by General Washington at the siege of Yorktown. 

In 1806 The Hope Cotton Factory Company bought the Hope Furnace Estate and mill privileges and built a 44-by-22 ft mill.  In 1821 it was sold to two partners who built another mill which burned in 1844. 

A Providence based partnership bought the site and founded the Hope Company, building the present  large stone mill, four stories high with full basement, 183-by-55 feet, which began operating in 1847 with 430 looms producing 40-inch sheetings and employing 165 workers, 65 males and 100 women. 

The railroad arrived in 1874 and ran one freight and six passenger trains daily.

More buildings were added in 1871, 1891 and 1916.  In the early 1900s the mills manufactured lace and the complex was known as the Valley Lace Company and continued until 1972 when various commercial tenants occupied the buildings until the complex fell into receivership.

In June, 2020 Paramount Development Group of Boston bought the property planning to “use the latest design and technology to rejuvenate the 18th century mill and all of its hydro-electric capabilities” and develop it into 193 affordable and market rate apartments.  Also a Hope Historical Museum is planned for the small square building on the front right of the building which was the mill office.  Planned completion is by the end of 2023.

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