• The Slater Mill (yellow) and Wilkinson Mill (stone), along the Blacktone River in Pawtucket RI

    Blackstone River Valley

    National Heritage Corridor MA,RI

Valley Sites - Millbury, Leicester, Grafton

Millbury Rapids

Millbury Rapids

MILLBURY

Millbury is well named, as the Blackstone River, Singletary Brook and other waterways powered mills making guns, lumber, paper, textiles and many other products. Despite all of this bustle, Millbury has managed to maintain its small town New England charm.

Asa Water’s Mansion
This fabulous mansion was constructed by Asa Waters II in the late 1820s. Unlike most in the Blackstone Valley, the fortune of the Waters family was not based on textiles, but guns. In 1808, Asa Waters II built armory along the banks of the Blackstone River just down behind the house, giving this area the name of Armory Village. Water’s great-grandson was William Howard Taft, elected President of the United States in 1908. Today the Waters Mansion is home to the Millbury Historical Society, which offers tours, lectures and special events here.

123 Elm Street
Millbury, MA 01527
(508) 865-4563
www.asawaters.org/home.html

Millbury Rapids
One of the best examples of the power of the Blackstone River can be seen at the Millbury Rapids, a Class-3 drop visible from the Main Street Bridge.

Main Street Bridge
Millbury, MA

 
Leicster Common

Leicester Common

LEICESTER

One of Leicester’s greatest contributions to the Blackstone Valley was Pliny Earle, who helped Samuel Slater develop the waterpowered carding machine he needed at his mill. Leicester was a major card cloth manufacturer, and the mill villages of Rochedale and Cherry Valley.

Leicester Common
Leicester Common has been the center of life in town for nearly 300 years. As a crossroads, it was the site for the meetinghouse and several taverns along with a few small shops. The common has also been a center of education since 1784 with the establishment of the Leicester Academy. Today, Becker College sits on the eastern side of the common and owns many of the historic buildings along Main Street.

Main Street
Leicester, MA 01524

 
Grafton Common

Grafton Common

GRAFTON

Like most towns in the Blackstone River Valley, Grafton provides a study in contrasts. Mill villages dominate the southwestern corner of town where the Blackstone River cuts through, while the rest of Grafton contained rolling hills and farmland, now suburbanized, centered on one of the lovely town commons in New England.

Willard House and Clock Museum
The Willard House and Clock Museum is the birthplace and workshop of America’s premiere 18th century clockmakers; Benjamin, Simon, Ephraim and Aaron Willard. Take a glimpse into the life and work of this family of craftsmen. The museum is open April through December: Tuesday - Saturday, 10-4, and Sunday 1-4. January through March: Friday and Saturday 10-4, Sunday 1-4

11 Willard Street
Grafton, MA 01536
(508) 839-3500
www.willardhouse.org

Grafton Common
View a quintessential example of a New England Town common here in Grafton, so perfect in fact it was used as a set for a Hollywood movie. Surrounding the common today are churches, shops and a number of homes, some former mansions of the town’s wealthy, others converted shoe and boot shops.

North Street and Worcester Street
Grafton, MA

Did You Know?

Child mill workers

Children as young as age six were hired to work in the textile mills of the Blackstone River Valley. These adolescent workers were employed by the Lonsdale Company, c. 1912. Photos such as this helped lead to the passage of child labor laws.