Images of this Property
15 images: Press to view larger or scroll sideways to see more. Contributions from the Library of Congress and the Secretary of State Digital Collections
About this Property
Crown Worsted expanded the buildings greatly during its more than 60 years at this location. By 1963 they were no longer owners and started to move out. The building has always been industrial and appear to be moderately maintained for commercial use.
As the report from 2002 says, Mars Plastics is the main tenant and possible owner of the property. Other small businesses occupy portions of the property as well.
- 1889 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 27a (page 55) — Crown Worsted Mills in not present but the block bounded by Dike Street to the north, Valley to the east (renamed Troy), Oak to the south, and Stokes Street to the west (later renamed Agnes) contains the “Harrison Steam Mills,” a complex that dates back to circa 1835 as the Eagle Mill built by John Waterman.
- 1900 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 3, Plate 264 (page 54) — The buildings on the southern half of the block are labeled as “Crown Worsted Mills.” The smaller building on the north side at 43 Troy Street is listed as a Warehouse and office. The larger building along the south edge at 43 Troy Street was used for “Drawing, Spinning, and Twisting.” The boiler house is one story and detached.
- 1908 L.J. Richards Map, Plate 15 (Private collection) — A new building to the west along Agnes Street appears. It is not labeled with any other business and so it appears to be built by Crown Worsted.
- 1920 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 4, Plate 14 (page 15) — The new building to the east has now been joined to the long rectangular main 45 Troy Street building. The warehouse/office building at 43 Troy Street has also been expanded in depth to the west. It was difficult to be sure in the 1908 map but it is clear here that it is longer than it was in the 1900 map.
- 1926 G.M. Hopkins Map, Plate 36 — Not much change nor much detail on this smaller map drawing. The infill building between Agnes Street and 45 Troy has gotten deeper on the northern side.
- 1937 G.M. Hopkins Map, Plate 36 — Again, not much change apparent but it looks like any remaining space to the west of the boiler room has been filled in.
- 1951 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 4, Plate 14 (page 15) — Greater detail of the changes over the past 30 years are available in this drawing. The single smokestack remains and the footprint of the buildings look very much unchanged compared to today.
From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002
Both buildings are two-story rectangular, brick structures with slight end-gable roofs. 43 Troy Street is a long building with a three-bay façade facing Troy Street. Fenestration is comprised of segmental-arch openings with a combination of paired, multi-light original sash and filled-in openings with small single-light sash with stone sills. Several window openings have been completely filled in. A newer vehicular entrance has been added where window openings once were at the eastern end of the Oak Street (south) elevation. 45 Troy Street is a much smaller, rectangular, two-story, brick building with a three-bay façade. The primary entrance is offset on the façade, set within a recessed, round-arch opening. Fenestration on this building is comprised of segmental-arch openings with 2/2 sash windows and stone sills. Between the two structures is a large smokestack that says “Crown” along the top rim. An overhead walkway connects the two buildings to one another.
The Providence Journal of Commerce reported on the new worsted yarn manufactory in 1896. Crown Worsted Mills is mentioned in directories dating back to 1898 on Troy Street. The 1908 map identifies this complex as the Crown Worsted Mills Inc. with the Providence Combing mills occupying the north end of this block. The complex’s footprint has not changed much since 1908, with only a small, one~story, brick addition having been added to the structure since that time (located between No. 2 and No. 5). What is now identified as 43 Troy Street was used for drawing, spinning, and twisting, with the rear section on Agnes Street having been used for spinning on the first floor and drawing on the second. 45 Troy Street was identified as No. 7 on the map, with both floors being used for a warehouse with office space on the Troy Street end of the building. The Crown Worsted Mills purchased the property in 1898, retaining ownership until 1963. The 1983 map identifies the property as the Crown Worsted Mills, suggesting that they still occupied the space at that time. 43 Troy Street is identified as the factory building of this yarn manufacturing concern. Subsequent owners included Welsh Manufacturing, Textron Inc., and the Page Tool Company. 43 Troy Street is currently occupied by Easy Tilt Vinyl Records. 45 Troy Street is currently home to Mars 2000 and Joron Creations.
#In the News
Hearings Before A Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce; United States Senate Eighty-Eighth Congress First Session on Problems of the Domestic Textile Industry of the United States; May 22 and 23m 1963
[…] From the Providence Journal,May 17,1963: CROWN MILL CLOSES; 100 OUT OF WORK
Crown Worsted Mills, Inc., worsted wool yarn spinning firm that has operated in the Olneyville section of Providence for 65 years, has gone out of business because of depressed market conditions caused by the influx of foreign imports. The closing affects 100 jobs.
George B. Roorbach, president and treasurer of the company, said last night that the mill building at 43 Troy Street and the plant’s machinery will be sold. Negotiations already are under way to sell the building, he said.
Mr. Roorbach said the closing was prompted by the “uncertainty for the future success of the textile mill” in view of the failure so far of the Kennedy administration to live up to its promises to bring about relief from imports.
“As the result of this failure, the company did not have the confidence to make the heavy capital expenditures necessary to keep Crown Worsted competitive and up to date,” Mr. Roorbach said.
He said the decision was made reluctantly and praised the company’s employees for cooperating in every way to keep the mill operating.
The Crown Worsted president said the company began to lose its vital “bread and butter” business in 1955, when the Japanese captured the U.S. market for two-ply 50’s and two-ply 40’s natural color worsted yarns. Since then, the mill has spun both synthetic and worsted yarns, he said, in an effort to stay in business through product diversification.
Recently, Mr. Roorbach said, the influx of foreign imports has forced the closing of a number of weaving mills that had been customers of the firm.
Crown Worsted was founded in 1898 and was acquired in 1927 by Henry Wood of Bristol, a superintendent of the former Cranston Worsted Co. in that town.
Mr. Wood operated the Olney mill until a year ago, when he sold the controlling interest to Mr. Roorbach, his son-in-law. Mr. Roorbach had been general manager of Crown Worsted for 3 years prior to acquiring control of the operation.
— Captured on 09 June 2023 from https://books.google.com/books?id=A30P_Lc8HpgC&dq=%22Crown+Worsted+Mills%22+Olneyville+Providence+RI&source=gbs_navlinks_s
New direction for an old industry
by Steve Winter
Providence Journal | December 2, 1984 (abridged)
[…] For years the American textile industry has been fighting the cheaper labor and/or more efficient manufacturing operations of textile firms in Europe, the Far East and China.
But the problem is getting worse.
“The threat today from the imports is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said George Roorbach, president of Crown Worsted Mills Inc. of Central Falls, which makes a higher-quality yarn.
“In 30 years, I’ve never been so concerned with imports as I am now. This is the first time I’m running scared.”
Through September, according to the Commerce Department, textile and apparel imports soared 41 percent to an equivalent of 7.75 billion square yards, a record. That surpasses the entire 1983 import total of 7.4 billion square yards.
If the 1984 rate continues, imports will come to 10.3 billion square yards, more than double the 4.8 billion square yards imported in 1980. […]
Other companies, such as Crown Worsted Mills and North Providence-based Worcester Textile Co., have found niches in high-quality products.
Worcester Textile makes fabrics - wool and wool synthetic blends - in short runs for makers of higher-priced clothing. Crown Worsted makes top-quality yarns for fashion-conscious customers.
“We keep developing new yarns, new yarns, all the time,” said Roorbach of Crown Worsted Mills. “You have to be fast on your feet to create new things for somebody, new wrinkles for somebody,” said Roorbach. […]
WINTER, STEVE. “New direction for an old industry.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. BUSINESS, 2 Dec. 1984, pp. F-01. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/1525C11018B6E780. Accessed 9 July 2023.
Hard-hit textile industry gropes for answers
by Steve Winter
Providence Journal | May 26, 1985 (abridged)
Currently, there’s a bill making its way through Congress that would place severe restrictions on imports. The legislation is called the Textile & Apparel Trade Enforcement Act of 1985 would roll back imports to 1980 levels and restrict annual growth at 1 to 6 percent per year.
[…] THE LEGISLATION IS needed, said Karl Spilhaus, president of the Northern Textile Association, because “the administration has simply refused to go out and negotiate tough agreements.”
The Textile and Apparel Trade Enforcement Act of 1985 has 265 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 43 in the Senate. Spilhaus is confident the legislation will pass. But he’s also certain that it will be vetoed by President Reagan, who is opposed to legislation that would limit imports.
”Is it bad to save the jobs of nearly two million textile workers in the U.S.?” asks George Roorbach, president of Crown Worsted Mills of Central Falls, a yarn spinning company. ”We have more workers than are in the auto and steel industries. Aren’t we as important as the farmer, or do we lack political clout?”
He points to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics that show the agriculture industry received more than $2.3 billion in financial assistance - in the forms of loans and subsidies - in 1983 and 1984.
”There are hardly any wool sweater knitters left and the few of us that are still spinning wool yarn are competing fiercely to sell to those few,” said Roorbach. ”One of my good customers told me last month that he’s going to switch to an imported spun yarn because it costs $2.50 less per yard.”
”We’re in the height of our season now,” said Roorbach. ”That’s irony. Business is very poor. Ordinarily, we run three shifts. Now, 80 percent of the mill is only running two shifts. One small section is running three shifts.
“I honestly don’t know what we can do to compete any more.” […]
WINTER, STEVE. “Hard-hit textile industry gropes for answers.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. BUSINESS, 26 May 1985, pp. F-01. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/1525BEED22C71380. Accessed 9 July 2023.