Greenville Finishing Company

also known as West Greenville Mills

This stone mill off of a main road has many modern additions, like vinyl siding and brick warehouses, but its roots go back to 1775

About this Property

#Current Events

Written by Sarah Clover in 2004

Greenville Finishing Company Complex was owned by an absentee landlord that inherited it from his father (name ?). It was then owned for a short time by Sal Soloman — then sold to a a group of four guys (Northborough Recovery Services) with big plans for retail.

The main building office is 401-949-0404. Some of the tenants include: the Greenville Antique Center (8 years, also known as Stillwater Antiques, now called Antiques Alley, update 2021), KBox Karate, Waynes Cards & Comics, Forge Signs (401-949-8989), R & S Storage (401-949-7867), Worthland Fire & Safety, and the Purple Piano.

A small waterfall on the left caught my attention and I saw a makeshift bridge and trail along the water. I could see remnants of a mill trash pile with exposed rusted metal and buckets probably filled with chemicals. Large pipes hanging out of the side falling apart. Very rocky, another bridge of logs with cable wire attached between 2 trees, rocky, thorny path that crossed back over to a steep hill.

I wander into the Purple Piano. Set up as part retail, part consignment art and musical equipment, they offer music lessons, yoga, piano repair and art & music therapy. They came to this space the past June and opened their doors by mid September 2003. The space was used as a storage for cars and car parts. The back room they sectioned off into practice rooms, offices and hallways. They now have 150 students attending and have independently contracted teachers. The owner’s specialty is piano. He is also an avid collector of vintage pianos. The atmosphere was homey and comfortable.

They had an innovative idea with a roof leaking problem: trying to get things fixed in the building has been difficult, so after coming in to find a leak on one of the vintage pianos, they took a trip to the hardware store to rig up a water trap that goes to an outdoor gutter with tubing and drainage collection pipes.

#History

Other Photos

From “Historic and Architectural Resources of Smithfield, Rhode Island,” written by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, Walter A. Nebiker, 1992, page 64

711 Putamm Pike, West Greenville Mills (c. 1775 et seq.): Along the Stillwater River, just below Waterman Reservoir, and near Putnam Pike, close to one another, are an industrial complex and the site of a mill, both operated as textile mills from the mid-nineteenth century into the twentieth century.

The mill complex includes an old factory which was known variously as the Elisha Steere Mill, Pooke and Steere’s Mill, and the Windsor Mill. This 3-story, stuccoed stone building, with a trap-door monitor roof and a 4-story, dquare, flat-roofed central tower, is sited along the river. It is back from the road. Along the river is a 17-foot high waterfall and a mill trench leading from the pond to the mill.

Before 1775, Andrew Waterman, grandson of Resolved, erected a saw mill at this site. He also started a grist mill here as well as a forge or furnace. Beginning in 1817, Elisha Steere (1783-1849) purchased two Waterman farms bordering the Waterman Reservoir. In 1844, Elisha erected a cotton mill on the site of Waterman’s mills. William Pooke and Anthony Steere purchased the property in 1855. They added a weave shop and enlarged the building which was now operating as a woolen mill. In 1862 Pooke & Steere, who had a mill at Mountaindale, manufactured fancy cassimeres.

The Windsor Mills Corporation purchased the property in 1873; their improvements included raising the roof and installing modern machinery. By 1887 the property comprised four stone mills, the largest a 3-story, 40- by 100-foot structure, which were used for carding, picking, weaving, and spinning operations, and which contained 6,000 spindles. In 1888, J.P. & E.K. Pay of Woonsocket purchased the mill, which employed 50 workers and which was again manufacturing cotton goods. The name Windsor Mills was retained into the twentieth century, when the mill became part of the Greenville Manufacturing Company’s operation. Although the buildings are no longer used for the manufacture of textiles, they serve several industrial uses.

West Greenville’s lower mill, now a site comprised of a large stone and earth dam, a mill trench, and stone foundations, was originally known as Windsor and Brown’s Mill for Stephen and Albert Windsor and William F. Brown who erected a mill here about 1845. In 1857, the property was acquired by Jeremiah Knight, who owned it for several decades. The small community here was then known as Knightsville. In 1874, when Frank E. Sprague purchased a half interest i the property, the old wooden wheels were replaced by iron ones and steam power was introduced to supplement the existing water power for the manufacture of sheetings. By 1895, the cotton mill was in the hands of the Greenville Manufacturing Company. The 20th-century history of the mill is not well known, but no above-ground structures have survived.