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Dye House of the Weybosset Mills

 

Studio AD, architectural firm.

 

An architectural firm, Studio AD, has bought the old dye house to renovate it into their new office space. It’s latest use was light industrial for Modern Trucking, Inc. – a trucking, rigging, and storage business. It hasn’t really been on our radar screen, so, the current info is a little lacking. Send us your facts and we’ll incorporate it into this write-up.

 

From the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, prepared by Jenny R. Fields, Architectural Historian and Alyssa L. Wood, Architectural Projects Assistant at PAL, Inc. .

Weybosset Mills: In 1864, woolen manufacturers Royal Chapin Taft and William B. Weeden purchased the Waterman Mills east of Troy Street and immediately began preparing the mills for woolen and cassimere production. The Weybosset Corporation continued new construction through the 1880s and 1890s and expanded its products to include worsted cloth. The Corporation attained ownership of the three lots comprising the block between Agnes, Troy, Oak, and Magnolia streets in 1871, 1880, and 1881. By the end of the century, though, the successful Weybossett Corporation was acquired by the more successful American Woolen Company. The American Woolen Company used the Weybosset Mills to produce worsted and cassimere products, including piece-dyed goods and cloth for overcoats and cloaks. The American Woolen Company continued full production at all of the Providence Mills until the late 1920s.

In 1924, American Woolen owned 60 woolen and worsted mills in New England, but shortly after, the decrease in wool demand caused the reorganization of the Providence and other mills. In April 1928, American Woolen completed plans for the abandonment of the Weybosset and Valley mills and in July, all of the machinery in the Weybosset and Valley mills was moved to the Riverside Mills, along with some of the employees. American Woolen closed Riverside Mills in 1927 because the work there was transferred to the central plant inShawnee, Massachusetts, but the Riverside Mills were reopened as the primary production site in Providence. From 1931 to 1934, the American Woolen Company slowly sold off the Weybosset Mill buildings and American Woolen-owned land parcels.

The Welsh Manufacturing Company was the only long-term tenant in the former Weybosset Mills after 1930. James W. Welsh, of Providence, started the Welsh Manufacturing Company to produce pencils, pen sets, and eyeglasses. He began his career working at Stevens and Company, an optical goods manufacturer in Providence that was bouight by Bausch and Lomb. Other businesses that located on Weybosset Mills property in the first half of the twentieth century included the Roger Williams Brewing Company, the Providence Wool Combing Company, and Nyman Manufacturing Company.

Dye House (circa 1880/1900): The Dye House is a north-south oriented building that extends from [...] Troy Street to Dike Street. It consists of a long circa 1880 production shed building with a circa 1900 one-story addition on the north elevation. The Dye House is a one and one-half story by 16-bay-by-two-bay rectangular building. It has a flat roof with metal flashingand brick walls. The first story fenestration consists of short, wide segmental arched window openings with three-course brick lintels and granite sills. Most of these window openings contain fixed 12-pane windows covered by metal grilles. The second story was created from a long box monitor, altered to extend to the east and west sides of the building. The south end of the east elevation contains four bays of paired, nine-pane, wood sash, casement windows that extend to the soffit line. In the remaining bays, these windows continue as a window band. [...] On the west elevation, only the four southern bays and one center bay are exposed at the second floor. [...] Four modern personnel doors and two modern garage doors are located in the building. On the east elevation, a personnel door in the connector to Mill No. 2 and in the north bay fit within original segmental arch openings. A metal personnel door with an I-beam lintel in the fifth bay and a metal garage door at the twelfth bay from the south end were cut into the building. A metal roll garage door with six windows and a steel lintel is located in the east bay of the north elevation. The west elevation contains paired wood panel doors with a space for a window above, in an original segmental arched opening in the south bay. A gambrel roof covers the 1920s one-bay brick extension of the building, located at the north end. A small chimney is centered on the ridge of this roof. The building served as a dye house until it was converted into an automobile repair business by 1956.

Architectural Significance: The Dye House and Weaving Room are two different examples of the single-story production shed. The Dye House is an earlier production shed, designed to accommodate the weight of an overhead crane and with a long monitor roof to provide more light. The Weaving Room has a distinctive multiple monitor sawtooth profile roof, known as the “British weave shed roof.” This form began to appear in the U.S. in the 1880s, but did not come into general use in New England until after 1900.

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