Mill No. 4, 1911

All over the valley, they are remodeling old mills and turning them into office space, housing, places for crafts and shopping. This mill is in North Smithfield Rhode Island.

The clock tower from the side.

It bears the name of Mill No. 4, 1911. I haven’t been able to find out more. Yet.

Tower from the front.

I’ll keep searching, but meanwhile, Mill No. 4 is now an office park. Not bad.

The tower looms at certain angles.

Behind the façade, bits of the old mill are still visible. I guess that’s why they call it a façade.

Behind the façade.


Categories: Blackstone Valley, History, photo, Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Marilyn knows this story but it warrants sharing. I was subbing in a local High School History class a few years ago. There was zero interest in the scheduled subject material. So, I ran “On The Waterfront” and used the dock corruption theme as a comparison with the local Mills. The bored youngsters got it!! The mill remnants are “living” history.


  2. I too live in the south – after living in the north (MA, NH, and PA). North Carolina was a fantastic economy when we moved here in 1987. Textiles, furniture, fiber optic cable and all the related support industries were booming.

    As Marilyn pointed out, the employment boom in the south came from the north. Here they had no unions, a largely uneducated work force and a history of overlooked employee abuse. People were only too glad to have a paycheck and accepted the deal. Listen to Rick Bragg tell the story in “The Most They Ever Had”.

    The good citizens of the south were shocked when those same greedy owners shipped the jobs off shore to peasants who would agree to even worse conditions and compensation.

    I was heartbroken but not surprised. “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”


    • Thank you. I get tired of people who never recognize that one thing happens because another thing happened somewhere else. Our jobs in the north moved to the south. It was cheaper there. But when the south became expensive compared to exploiting children in China, the jobs all went overseas. No one in the south questioned for a moment at whose expense those factories and mills appeared. New England never recovered. The industrial base left never to return. Chronic unemployment and massive pollution that we are still trying to clean up is the legacy. We had a high tech bubble in the 80s then that went away. It’s been downhill since. Great quote from Michael Crichton in “Timeline”: “He who knows no history is like a branch that doesn’t know it’s part of a tree,” or words to that effect.


  3. I’ve sure seen my fill of closed down mills in the South. By now you know my history in textiles and how they are almost completely gone. While still working there I witnessed mill after mill closing. The decline in textiles began before my work in them. I lived in a textile town, Graniteville, SC. When the mills all shut down it was very difficult for the town to survive. Slowly but surely they did. I still have friends there and communicate regularly.


    • That’s the history of this valley. When they closed here, they moved down south … to you. Then, they all closed and went overseas. They were here first but obviously, not last. There are still a couple of mills. Malden Mills, up on the Merrimack and I think maybe one other down in Rhode Island on the Blackstone. Otherwse gone … though the pollution lingers on. But, as they say in the movies, follow the money. Mill owners went and still go wherever labor and taxes are cheapest. We — Americans — cannot compete for our own industry. We shouldn’t have to compete but reality keeps biting.



  1. Mill No. 4, 1911 | Forty Two: Life and Other Important Things |

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