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The redevelopment of this collection of mill buildings started in 1987 but seems to have not been completed until the mid-nineties. A series of unfortunate events made the conversion into condominiums slow, and as a means of saving the project, Collette Vacations purchased one of the mills for its headquarters. Now both mills are in excellent condition and fully occupied.
It is a little confusing, though, the way the Providence Journal article mentions that the developers purchases the abandoned mill in 1987, but Collette owned part of the complex since 1966. We’re not sure what the straight story is.
The more than 160-year old collection of mill buildings is half condominiums — 82 units called Blackstone Landing — and half commercial space as the headquarters for 200 full-time employees of Collette Vacations.
Since the complex is so old and significant, we are surprised that there has not been a National Register nomination for this mill complex. Documented history is rather light.
From Statewide Historical Preservation Report: Pawtucket, Rhode Island, by the RIHPHC, 1978
Greene & Daniels Mill Complex 1860 et seq.; Company founded in Central Falls. Manufacturers of spool cotton thread. Relocated to Pleasant View after construction of Central Avenue Bridge. Company a major factor in neighborhood’s development. The complex includes:
Mill One 1860-1866; Large, 4-story, brick mill; 3-story wing on north. Flat roof has replaced original mansard. Pair of non-identical, 6-stage towers on river front; southern tower originally housed a clock. A major Pawtucket landmark.
Office 1864 et seq.: 2-story-and-basement brick office building. Very wide eaves; now has a saw-toothed roof.
From “RHODE ISLAND: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites”, Gary Kulik and Julia C. Bonham, 1978
This four-story, brick, spool-cotton mill was built in 1860 and has been substantially altered since. Originally 5-stories high, with a dormered mansard roof and twin towers, it was enlarged to 407’ X 67’ in 1866. The fifth story is now gone, as are the tower roofs.
Benjamin F. Greene founded the company and also assisted in technical developments by taking out a patent for dressing thread. The firm was incorporated as the Greene Daniels Manufacturing Company in 1877. At that time, the mill ran 22,000 spindles and produced ivory-finished three-cord thread. Because of the increased use of sewing machines, the soft-finished six-cord threads, like those of J P. Coats, came into extensive use. Because of this, Greene Daniels was forced into new product lines. Using the new English system of carding and combing, the company began to produce high quality yarns, which they dyed themselves for women’s dresses. By 1893, the mill employed 400 workers. It is now used for warehouse space.
#In the News
Another preservation success story — At work, at home in the mill
by John Castellucci
Providence Journal | February 28, 2001 (abridged)
For decades, the Greene & Daniels Mill was a symbol of decay, a vacant factory complex that was one of the first things motorists saw when they shot through the city on Route 95.
Today, the 141-year-old industrial complex restored as Blackstone Landing condominiums and the new headquarters of Collette Vacations is a major Pawtucket landmark.
It is also a preservation success story, an example of what can be done when an expanding company and a group of developers acquire and renovate a derelict mill.
The Preservation Society of Pawtucket will hold its 22nd annual meeting this evening in the north wing of the main mill building beside the Blackstone River, between Front and Middle Streets.
The site was chosen to kick off the Preservation Society’s 2001 membership drive, and to showcase the building’s rehabilitation, which was designed by David R. Prengaman of Vision III Architects in Providence. […]
Collette Vacation, then known as Collette Tours, bought the north wing of the Greene & Daniels Mill in 1966 and began a $3-million effort to turn it into its new headquarters.
“They could have built themselves a new, ugly building somewhere, or they could have done this, and gotten themselves something classy” said Linda Darman, program director of the Preservation Society.
The decision to rehabilitate an existing building, rather than build a new one, helped to keep Collette in the city, said Michael D. Cassidy, director of the Department of Planning and Redevelopment.
There isn’t much open space available in Pawtucket where new buildings can be constructed. But there are plenty of old mill buildings, such as the Greene & Daniels complex, that lend themselves to reuse, Cassidy said. […]
Today, 200 of Collette’s 540 full-time employees work in the renovated north wing of the mill complex, according to Karen Sullivan-Ditto, community relations director for the travel company. Another 125 employees work in another rehabilitated building nearby, at 162 Middle St. The rest work in Collette offices in Canada, Great Britain and Australia.
[…] There are 79 condo units in the five-story south wing of the main factory building, which is topped by a distinctive clock tower. There are another three units in the small building on Central Avenue that DiMartino said was the bank for the mill.
The 3.5-acre mill complex was built at the start of the Civil War, after the Central Avenue Bridge was constructed and Greene & Daniels moved to Pawtucket from nearby Central Falls.
A whole neighborhood, the Pleasant View section, grew up around the thriving textile mill, which manufactured spool cotton thread.
By the time a group of condo developers bought the mill in May 1987, however, it was “a vacant building with pigeon carcasses, broken windows and a fire hazard waiting to happen,” said Harry Schoening, the Boston developer who became partners in the condominium project with James R. Winoker of Providence.
Buoyed by the booming condo market, Schoening and Winoker planned to carve 133 condominiums out of the sprawling mill complex. But the ambitious $10-million project faltered in November 1988 when a water main broke under Middle Street and flushed 900,000 gallons of water into the condo project, which was under construction.
The damage was so bad, Winoker said, that a Boston company that had agreed to buy 20 of the condominiums reneged. The loss of the deal combined with the collapse of the condo market, he said, to force the project into receivership.
Just 82 condos were developed. Plans were dropped to develop the other 51 in the three-story north wing of the main mill building.
By 1991, the travel company had outgrown its headquarters on Broad Street. That year, it moved to a renovated office building on Middle Street.
Then, after another growth spurt, Collette acquired the unoccupied north wing of the mill building and made plans for the three-story office building.
It wasn’t easy. The north wing of the mill was nothing more than a shell, according to Prengaman. There was no running water, no sprinkler system and no heating system, although utilities had been brought up to the walls of the building and the condo developers had put on a new roof, Winoker said.
Prengaman designed three floors of office space, exposing details of the old mill, such as the brick walls and wood beams, wherever possible imitating the spirit of the original whenever he could.
The new central staircase, for example, consists of industrial-looking green metal hand rails laced with steel mesh. “There was an open stair that didn’t meet any of the building codes and had to be taken out,” Prengaman said.
New windows were installed, but the openings weren’t made smaller, nor were they bricked up, as in other converted mill buildings.
Structurally, the north wing of the main building hasn’t been altered. The building, built to house heavy machinery, was basically sound. […]