"Old Slater Mill"
Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was founded by Samuel Slater in 1793. It was the start of the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of textile manufacturing right here in my home town.
The site contains three buildings - The Sylvanus Brown House (1758), the Slater Mill (1793), and the Wilkinson Mill (1810). This mill tells the progression of textile manufacturing from beginning hand crafted to a large scale industrial enterprise.
Built in 1793 the original Slater Mill was a 29 x 42 foot, 2 story structure. Built of wood, it looked alot like the farmhouses, barns and churches of that time except for it's size. Its long, narrow shape helped to transfer power from a water wheel to the machines, making the most out of natural light.
The mill, at first, employed mostly children between the ages of 7 and 12. They worked very long hours in terrible conditions making less than $1.00 per week. Child labor was finally eliminated by 1938 with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Old Slater Mill
The Sylvanus Brown House
This is the oldest building on the Slater Mill site. It is a typical dwelling of the mid-late eighteenth century. The house was moved to this location in the 1960's. The original structure is intact except for the basement and chimney. The furnishings that are still in the home are from Sylvanus Brown's estate dating back to 1824. These furnishings include a loom, spinning wheel and other tools used to make cloth by hand.
In this home women and children had the tedious work of cleaning and carding wool, spinning yarn and weaving cloth. It's very interesting to watch how this was accomplished by hand since the machinery in Slater Mill duplicates many of these operations, often with equipment that looks like the hand tool original.
Sylvanus Brown House
The Wilkinson Mill
This mill demonstrates the changes in mill design after twenty years of the industrial experience. It was built in 1810 and significantly larger than the original Slater Mill. It's exterior walls were build of stone to reduce the chance of a fire.
The mill, as it appears today, includes a brick tower added in 1840 and a belfry recreated from a photograph dating from 1870.
It was designed as a cotton mill and included a machine shop on the first floor. Here mechanics also built and repaired whatever machinery was needed in the mill. A large waterwheel still provides power to the machines in the machine shop.
When this mill was built it performed all stages of cloth manufacturing except weaving. By the year 1817 weaving was probably introduced using looms built in the mills own machine shop.
This page from my website, "Room by Room Primitive Decorating", doesn't really keep within my content, but I found it to be a very interesting piece of history that I thought everyone would enjoy.
It brings us back to an earlier period of time and shows us a little of what life was like so long ago.
Hope you enjoyed!