Author Topic: Mill in Southern RI  (Read 14074 times)

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Offline MovingUnit

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Mill in Southern RI
« on: December 05, 2004, 10:18:40 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 Photohunter

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Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2004, 04:30:40 PM »
Very cool structure.
You did a hell of a research job.
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Offline metalwitch

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Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2004, 12:30:33 PM »
Quote
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.
Spacemonkey--
That stone mill was kind of like the one I was telling you about (remember).

From what the ex husband can remember of it that is.
 

Offline metalwitch

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Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2004, 11:32:03 AM »
Got info on another mill down by the wayside  near the tower.
Down near rt 2, area.

After the holidays are DONE, will be heading out.
MW

 

Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2009, 06:55:28 PM »
I just found out where this mill is but don't know the condition...hoping to take a mini road trip soon.
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Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2009, 07:51:43 PM »
Found it today!  It's in bad shape (a lot worse than 4 years ago) but I posted a pic here.


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Offline Tmac02892

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2009, 12:07:43 PM »
This mill has been on my top 10 places to visit for a while, and yesterday I checked it out.  There wasn't much good news to report, though.  Firstly, there is a perimeter fence topped with barbed wire around the entire complex.  The mill itself is too far gone to explore safely, though some of the other buildings might be ok.  I talked with a lady who lived next to it, and she told me how there was a plan to restore it that got shot down.  Apparently there was significant progress before the plan's rejection.  The entire site was surveyed and plans to restore the buildings drawn up.  A lot of debris was removed, in particular from the river.
The present owner, Edward Carapezza of Renewable Resources, Inc. has been told that the complex is beyond saving, but has refused to demolish the mill.  He created a very informative website on his plans, complete with pictures and diagrams:
http://www.potterhillmill.com/index.htm
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Offline Otto MCR

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2009, 05:07:10 PM »
Where exactly is this? Im pretty sure but I just want to be positive.

Offline Tmac02892

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2009, 08:18:20 PM »
Where exactly is this? Im pretty sure but I just want to be positive.
Potter Hill, it's off of Potter Hill Rd. where it meets Masxton St. and River Rd.
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Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2009, 09:04:38 AM »
Aww, it would have been nice to make people do some research like I had to to find it.  It's not like it's on an obvious main road or anything.  I had to use Google Earth and follow the river that runs next to it to find it (what is it, the Pawcatuck river?  I forgot.)

I agree the complex is too far gone to save.  Even the smokestacks are missing chunks of bricks and are unstable.
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Offline CarbonCavi

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2009, 08:39:56 AM »
This is like 5 minutes from my house. sorry i never saw the topic and am unearthing it from the dead lol. i wanted to check it out too but just driving by it you can see its too gone
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Offline JiggyJamesG

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2009, 06:49:45 PM »
damnn i was plannin on checking this place out, so its too far gone to walk through huh?
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Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2009, 09:43:23 PM »
unless you have a death wish. lol
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Offline CarbonCavi

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2009, 07:46:25 AM »
yeah or your chuck norris and can just stop the river if you fall into it lol
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Offline Tmac02892

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2010, 10:51:34 PM »
So, I finally visited this mill with OttoMCR.  We canoed to it to avoid the hassle of the fences.  Sadly, the whole place is pretty much beyond saving.  We went in almost all of the buildings using extreme caution.  There are five main parts to the mill.  The first building was wood and in decent condition considering.  The next (same) part (also wood) was completely collapsed.  After that was a newer brick building that had roof issues but was reinforced with I-beams.  There was some cool machinery in it.  It also housed the boiler, which was neat, along with the chimney.  The next part was essentially the same building, but was mostly collapsed and near impossible to enter.  Next was the main stone mill.  It was beautiful, it's a shame it may collapse soon.  Once inside I noticed a problem.  All the heavy machinery was kept on the third floor.  Something had happened that caused the roof to partially collapse and in turn collapsed a huge part of the floor.  A little less than half of the left side of the 3 floors was intact.  The front tower was in fairly good condition, we used it to get to the third floor.  The last brick part was hanging in there. 

I'd imagine that it doesn't have long at all.  It's probably getting worse daily.  I would not advise visiting it (touche), because even a small jump would have probably started another collapse.  For me, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We both shot a ton of photos, which are probably some of the only in existence of the mill in its current state.
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Offline Megster

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2010, 04:57:06 PM »
Oh I'd LOVE to see the pics of that place.  I can't imagine the recent floods made it any better, either.
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Offline Otto MCR

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Re: Mill in Southern RI
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2010, 03:48:31 PM »
This place was crazy. Quite an experience.

I'll make a separate thread with the pictures I have finished up.

Thanks for taking me, Tmac. :)