At first glance Slatersville looks like a classic New England small town. In reality, Slatersville is America's first planned mill village. Its true heart is the massive stone mill along the river not the common.
In 1803, John Slater arrived in the United States from England. When he arrived, his older brother Samuel Slater gave John the task of finding a site for a new textile mill. He chose Buffum's Mills a small settlement at a spot where the Branch River dropped over 40 feet in a mile. In 1805, the Slaters' partners William Almy and Obadiah Brown began buying the land and water rights. On July 4, 1807, the new stone mill opened.
Unlike the Slater Mill in Pawtucket, this mill needed a village to house the workers. The Slaters built worker housing, a church, and a company store. These would become the component parts of a Mill Village. The success of Slatersville proved that it was possible to build mills anywhere there was enough water. This opened the entire Blackstone Valley for industrialization.
The Slater family continued to own Slatersville until 1900 when they sold it to James R. Hooper. Hooper used the mill to bleach and dye cloth. In 1915, Hooper sold the village to Henry P. Kendall. Kendall took a personal interest in the village. He renovated many of the homes, made sure they were maintained, and added lawns and shrubbery. Much of the traditional New England character of Slatersville comes from Mr. Kendall.
The current residents still have that same sense of pride. While the surrounding areas have been developed, the village core has been preserved and Main Street looks much as it did in the 1920's. Modern Slatersville is not only a mill village entering its third century, but the end result of a preservation project that has been lovingly carried out on a community level for one hundred years.
People, Places and Stories
Last updated: July 17, 2021