Author Topic: Mill in Southern RI  (Read 5971 times)

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Offline MovingUnit

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Mill in Southern RI
« on: December 05, 2004, 10:17:55 AM »
I found this one a couple of months ago from a tip from my grandfather who worked there in the 1940's.

It's quite large, there's a few smokestacks and other buildings behind this one.  I've been researching it's history since I found it and this is what I came up with.

In 1775, George Potter bought a gristmill on the Pawcatuck River at the site now known as Potter Hill. In 1796, Potter was sued by Zachus Reynolds for not opening the fish gap at his damn on March 20th, so that the alewives and shad could pass up the stream to breed. The case was in the courts for seven years before a decision was made in favor of the defendants.

In 1810, Joseph Potter began making cotton yarn in the old gristmill. This led to construction of a cotton factory at a cost of $9000. During the War of 1812, he was offered three cents a hank for spinning No. 12 yarn. However, due to the scarcity of cotton during the war, and the influx of fabric afterwards, he is said to have sustained a $13,000 loss. Joseph was commissioned a Captain and ordered to collect his company and to proceed to Lottery Village on the Pawcatuck River to "meet, expel, and destroy the enemy." A part of his factory was used for training the troops.

In 1843, the mill and water privilege were sold to Edwin and Horace Babcock, who, in 1847 built an additional mill designed by Peleg Clarke, Jr., a contractor in Westerly. This impressive building is a three-story Greek Revival structure with a gable roof, pedimented end gables, and a tower. Its red granite masonry was laid in alternating smooth ashlar courses and narrower quarry-faced courses.

In 1889, the mill complex was owned by JP Campbell & Co., who employed two hundred hands making fine cassimeres. The Swift Woolen Co., was the last to operate the mill. About 1958, they stopped the machinery so unexpectedly that cloth was left on the nappers. The buildings still stand to this day, untouched, except for a small portion which was burned in a fire ten years ago.  It is now has a private owner who resides in New York state.

In the first picture, you can see what looks like an arched opening where the mill's foundation meets the water. This is where a large wooden wheel and turbines were once located. The debris and remains of these are actually resting in the water, still, below the building.

I'm going to take a trip there sometime soon and check the structural integrity; it can't be that good seeing how old it is.  I'll keep you all updated.

Offline CarbonCavi

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2006, 06:28:32 PM »
also right up the road from me! good find as well
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Offline Tmac02892

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 01:54:24 PM »
Hey MovingUnit,
Quick question- did anyone bother you when you were exploring the mill?  I'm just wondering if anyone would report trespassing, or if its kind of isolated. 
Saving history one photo at a time.

Offline Obiwan2477

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2008, 04:28:36 PM »
Just wanted to ask where is this place located.My friends and I would like to check it out.thanks ,dylan

Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 06:34:24 AM »
Is this even still around? I've always been curious about this one.
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