Stop 4: Slatersville Mills

Branch river with stone mill and wooden building on left bank of the river
Slatersville Mill and the Branch River

The original Slatersville Mill, built in 1807, burned down in 1826 and was replaced by the large stone mill in front of you. Known as the Center Mill or Mill number 1, this four-story building features a beautiful 5 story belltower. The belltower became an iconic feature in mill construction. It was the mill’s belltower that dictated daily life to the village’s inhabitants. A Providence-based poet writing in the 1830s critiqued this system: “Hark! Don’t you hear the factory bell? Of Wit and Learning ‘tis the knell. It rings them out it tolls them in. Where men they weave and girls they spin.”

By 1833, Slaterville Mills had 9,500 spindles and 225 looms in action. 66 men, 109 women, and 169 children operated these machines, either making thread or weaving that thread into cloth. The work was tedious and repetitive. While not as physically demanding as some other jobs, without safety regulations, conditions were often dangerous. Laborers were also expected to do this work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. All 344 worker’s wages combined totaled $57,000 annually. That’s only a little higher than the average annual wage earned by a single person in the United States today.

Weave room with looms and workers
Slatersville Weave Room

In 1843, a third mill was added in Slatersville. This mill still stands behind the 1826 mill. At its peak of water-powered operations, three mills were all powered by this section of the Branch River. In 1894, the large brick mill was constructed, and steam powered operations commenced at the site. The wooden building to your right, the last remaining structure from the original 1807 mill, served as the office building for the company.

In 2007, this place that had once been for labor became a place of rest. The mills were converted to a new life as an apartment complex. The restored mill remains the center and heart of the village.


Last updated: September 8, 2022

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67 Roosevelt Ave
Pawtucket, RI 02860



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