Thurston Manufacturing

also known as Thurston Saw/Atlantic Rayon

A large, late 19th-century mill complex razed for the relocation of I-195 in the mid-2000s. The complex was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

This complex was demolished as part of the I-195 Relocation project in the early 2000s. The buildings were in decent shape and housed manufacturing up until they were bought by the state for the highway project. The RIHPHC has a full account of the history of the site as well as interior photographs.

Architecturally, the buildings were representative examples of industrial construction from about 1873 to 1930. The complex was made up of five major four- and five-story brick buildings, with one-story extensions, and three smaller one-story utility buildings. Few changes had been made to the buildings since the 1940s. The complex was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

#Current Events

Demolition occurred in the spring and summer of 2004. The neighboring cinder-block building, home to Pulse nightclub, was razed between 2014-2016. The area is currently occupied by the Eddy Street exit ramp off of I-95 south.

#History

Thurston Manufacturing was founded by Horace Thurston in 1883 at 419 Eddy Street. Thurston apprenticed at Corliss Steam Engine Co., was employed by Providence Tool Co., served as a foreman for Brown & Sharpe, and was a master mechanic for Cummer Engine of Ohio. They started as millers of cutting plates for jewelry businesses, and later expanded to produce precision cutting saws for all types of materials and industries.

The first building was constructed in 1873 for the Union Eyelet Company, a manufacturer of brass eyelets for clothing and shoes. George Boyden purchased the company in 1911 and converted it for the manufacture of knitted hosiery. Boyden had established a dry goods store on High Street (now Westminister) in 1875 and was a large stockholder in several local companies. By about 1930, the main building had been sold to Thurston Manufacturing, and the remainder of the complex was sold to Franklin Rayon Corp.

Atlantic Rayon/Thurston Manufacturing (Thurston Saw) was historically significant as a small manufacturer developed in the 19th and 20th century specializing in textiles and metal-working, two of Providence’s prominent industries. The complex had associations with Royal Little, industrial entrepreneur, and the creation of Textron, Inc. The metalworking area, the oldest section of the building, was home to Thurston Saw, a manufacturer of fine saws and cutting tools since the 1930s.