Hope Webbing Company

also known as School House Candy, Hope Artiste Village

This huge 7-acre complex is a mixed-use, active-24/7 collection of 165 flexible business spaces and 149 mill lofts

About this Property

#Redevelopment

In March 2005, the Los Angeles-based Urban Smart Growth purchased the 600,000 square-foot former Hope Webbing mill complex for $2.5 million. Four years and $20 million dollars later, Phase 1 added almost 300,000 sf of leasable retail, restaurant, and live/work space. Anchor tenants like the Seven Stars Baking facility, New Harvest Coffee Roasters, and Farm Fresh RI helped draw in more businesses and tenants.

The event that really packed the halls was the Fall/Winter Farmer’s Market which had its first year in 2008. The event drew hundreds and hundreds of people, created pup-up Holiday events, and used un-rented spaces for vendors. By 2015, the interior space created between weave sheds on both the south and north sides were filled with vendors.

In 2019, the Farmer’s Market and Farm Fresh RI moved to their own building in the Valley section of Providence, which was a blow to the foot traffic at the mill. Smaller events persisted but then the Pandemic of 2020–2021 lowered foot traffic further.

By 2020, though, Phase 2 was complete and 149 apartments became available in the former finishing house, later School House Candy. The residential entrance for these new lofts is at 200 Esten Street and has been dubbed The Village Lofts. A news story with more information is below.

#Current Events

Leasing information for work units, industrial space, and apartments can be found at HopeArtistsVillage.com. A current tenant list can be found there as well.

#History

More photos from the Pawtucket Library Flickr collection

From the National Register Nomination Form, June 2005, prepared by Matthew Kierstead

The Hope Webbing Company Mill is located at 999-1005 Main Street in the Woodlawn neighborhood, a mixed industrial, commercial, and residential area in southwestern Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The webbing plant buildings occupy a rectangular, 7-acre parcel bounded by Main Street (Rhode Island Route 122) to the east, Dudley Street to the south, Esten Avenue to the west, and Warren Avenue to the north. The mill parcel is on the east terrace of the Moshassuck River. The east half of the parcel is flat, and the west half slopes gently to Esten Avenue. The land on the north, east, and south sides of the mill complex is occupied by residential properties, and a historic industrial building of the former American Textile Company is located southwest of the mill complex across Dudley Street. The former Hope Webbing Power Plant, Bleach House, and Dye House were located on a separate parcel to the west, on the west side of Esten Avenue, and were connected to the main mill complex by an underground utility tunnel. Those buildings burned in 2004 and have been demolished. That parcel is not included in this nomination.

The property includes three contributing brick-walled buildings, the Finishing Building (Building 4)/Weave Sheds block (subsequently referred to as the “Main Mill”) (1889-1914), The Preparing Building (Building 3) (1902, 1913), and the Boiler House (Building 6) (1889, 1903), all associated with the historical development of the property during its period of significance (1889-1955). […]

[…] Roofs are flat, of built-up plank and bituminous construction, with subtle longitudinal gable pitches for drainage, and either end flush with the walls or have overhanging wood cornices with wood crown molding at the gutter line. Walls are of brick with multiple-course corbels or machicolations and bullnose bricks common at window and door openings. The interior structure is fire-resistive, consisting mostly of heavy wood post-and-beam framing and multiple layer wood plank floors, with limited structural steel framing and concrete slab floors in some locations. Fenestration is regular, with tall rectangular single or paired segmental arch window openings with splayed brick arched lintels and thin quarry-faced granite lintels, containing a mix of original multiple-pane fixed and moveable wood sash units, modern replacement units, and wood and masonry infill. […]

Significance

Hope Webbing is significant as an intact representative physical expression of the industrial history and architecture of Pawtucket, one of Rhode Island’s most heavily industrialized communities. Hope Webbing includes three contributing buildings associated with the construction, development, and operation of the plant, a narrow woven textile production facility. […]

Pawtucket Falls is regarded as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. It was there in 1793 that the mechanical skill of the Wilkinson family and textile machinery knowledge of Samuel Slater were combined to create Slater Mill, site of the first successful mechanized cotton spinning in the United States. […] Pawtucket became an important producer of yarn, thread, specialty fabrics including calicoes, woven haircloth, worsted braid, and cotton wadding shoelaces. It was also a notable location for manufacture of narrow woven and braided textile products such as those made at Hope Webbing. […] In the 46 years between the incorporation of the city in 1874 and 1920, the population of the city more than tripled to a total of 64,248. Eventually Pawtucket became second only to Providence in terms of population and industrial importance in Rhode Island, and the downtown rivaled its neighbor in abundance and variety of goods

Development of Hope Webbing

The Hope Webbing Company was founded in 1883 in Providence, Rhode Island, by Charles Sisson and Oscar Steere. […] Sisson was born in 1847 in Coventry, Rhode Island, and worked at Hamilton Webbing [North Kinston, RI] for 17 years, moving up from a position as a clerk to general superintendent. Oscar Steere’s expertise was in the manufacturing side of the business. In 1883 Sisson took Steere, as well as Hamilton Webbing bookkeeper Willis Harkness White, with him to form Hope Webbing in Providence. The men rented a small shop on Sprague Street, and installed ten looms primarily for making webbing for pull-straps for boots. On July 26, 1889, the company incorporated as the Hope Webbing Company, a stock company with capitalization of $100,000, with Hezekiah Conant, president; Charles Sisson, treasurer; Willis H. White, secretary; and Oscar A. Steere, superintendent. By the late 1890s the company had 15 workers tending 60 looms, and, needing room to expand, were looking for vacant land outside the city for a new plant. The company purchased a parcel of land on Learned Street, just west of Main Street, in the South Woodlawn section of Pawtucket. The contract for the first mill building was signed on September 16, 1889. In early 1890 the offices and 108 looms were moved into the new 17,000 sq ft shop.

The Hope Webbing Company purchased the Pawtucket parcel for their new plant from Hezekiah Conant, who was considered “the leading manufacturer of Pawtucket.” Conant, born in Dudley, Massachusetts in 1827, was trained in Worcester, Massachusetts as a mechanic, and worked at the Colt Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. He became an inventor and engineer concentrating on thread machines in Willimantic, Connecticut, known as the “Thread City.” In 1868 he founded the Conant Thread Company in Pawtucket, and in 1869 he established a relationship with the J & P. Coats thread of Scotland, the leading thread manufacturer in the world at that time. […]

Although the Hope Webbing plant presents the appearance of having been designed and built all at once, particularly considering the cohesive, symmetrical design of its Main Street facade and continuous, repetitive appearance of the weave sheds, it was actually built in at least eight major phases reflecting steadily increasing product development and market demand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. See the overview map of the property […]

[…] Power came from two 125 hp Corliss boilers and an 80 hp Corliss steam engine, and the plant had its own generator for electric lighting. It employed 460 hands making 150 miles of products a day, including cotton, jute, worsted wool, and silk narrow woven fabrics such as boot and shoe straps, carpet and horse blanket bindings, hat bands, non-elastic webs, and dress stay webs and trimmings, hose supports, and electrical machinery insulation for markets in the U.S., Europe, and South America. In 1897 the plant was said to make 1.5 million yards of narrow fabrics a year.

One important factor of Hope Webbing’s success at this time was the development of cotton “linen finished electric tape” and related electric coil winding tapes, extremely thin fabric tapes for insulating electric motor wire coil windings. Hope management worked with the noted pioneering electrical machinery concern, the Thomson and Houston Company of Lynn, Massachusetts (later General Electric Lynn), to replace a proprietary imported Scottish linen material for armature and field coil windings. Hope technicians developed a special calendar roll to give the thin fabric a waxy finish that duplicated the linen it replaced. […]

This new north section of the headhouse also incorporated a significant amount of indoor space devoted to employee recreation. The top floor of the tower housed a “club room,” the second floor of the main section included recreation and assembly rooms, and the entire top floor was devoted to a four-lane bowling alley, which still survives in good condition. These amenities are surviving examples of industrial employee recreation facilities instituted as part of the “welfare capitalism” movement that began in the late 1880s and ended with the Great Depression. Employers believed that recreation facilities would influence workers’ behavior outside the workplace and dissuade them from unhealthy leisure time pursuits and help built team spirit” and company loyalty. […]

[…] In 1912 Hope Webbing employed 1,200 hands and made more than 25,000 varieties of narrow woven products. Employment peaked at 1,300 during World War I.

Hope Webbing was said to be the “largest plant in world making narrow woven fabric” in 1923, and had sales offices in Chicago and New York. In 1930 the company had 1,200, multiple-shuttle narrow fabric weaving looms and 800 braiding machines on 12.5 acres of floor space, plus their own fabric preparation and finishing facilities including a dye house and bleach house integrated into the works. Hope consumed the equivalent of 40 acres of cotton annually. […]

[…] The company calculated that it had woven 50,000 different configurations since its inception in 1883. Among its most notable accomplishments were manufacturing Ford Model T clutch and brake woven linings, pioneering the development of cloth zipper tape, and developing and manufacturing a wide range of electrical fabrics, which constituted the greatest yardage of their overall production.

Hope Webbing suffered its first financial losses in 1955, the end of its period of significance. In 1956 New York textile operator George A. Hovarth purchased the plant and sold it to HW Realty of Providence, which was owned by the Rosen family, who also owned the School House Candy Company. HW Realty then leased half of the plant back to Hope Webbing, and set up a candy factory in the Preparing Building, and used part of the weave shed complex for warehouse space. School House Candy was subsequently purchased by Sherwood Brands before quitting the complex. Hope Webbing, now known as Hope Global, left building in 1995 for a modern facility on Martin Street in Cumberland, Rhode Island, where their home office is now located.

#In the News

Village Lofts open behind Hope Artiste Village

by Melanie Thibeault
Valley Breeze | January 1, 2020 (abridged)

The developers behind a new luxury apartment complex connected to Hope Artiste Village are celebrating their grand opening today, Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m., with a speaking program and tour of the building and model units.

Read the full article

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Village Lofts, located at 200 Esten Ave. in Pawtucket, is a way to thank local officials for their help in mobilizing the project, Michael Gazdacko, of developer Urban Smart Growth, told The Breeze.

Requests for tours have been coming in every day, and it’s been busy for what’s not usually a busy renting season, he said. “The demand seems to be there.”

The five-story, approximately 140,000 square-foot mill complex contains 149 loft-style apartments, ranging from 500 to 1,800 square feet, and includes 60 to 65 storage units in the building, Gazdacko said. The approximately $39 million project previously received a nine-month extension from the City Council on the start of a 10-year tax treaty, to the end of December, after the development experienced some delays. All of the units are rentals and have open loft-style floor plans, so there are no walls dividing the bedroom, kitchen, and living areas. Except for the fifth floor units, which include a mezzanine, all of the apartments are single-story. The fifth floor apartments include a spiral staircase that leads to the mezzanine, which includes a walk-in closet and vanity with sink.

The apartments include exposed brick walls, large windows, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and quartz vanities in the bathrooms.

Monthly rents start at $1,000 and go up to more than $2,000, Gazdacko said. Amenities include a rooftop deck and a fitness room with treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, kettlebells, and more on the second floor.

The complex connects directly to Hope Artiste Village, which Urban Smart Growth previously developed, via two walkways on the fourth floor, one of which is accessible to the public and the other only to tenants.

The mixed-use Hope Artiste Village contains more than 165 businesses, including retail, services, food, entertainment, and events, including an indoor farmers market. The entire complex has highlighted the “small business and artist-friendly community that Pawtucket has become,” Gazdacko said.

Technology in the apartments includes smart thermostats and smart lock sets that allow tenants to use their phones to unlock their doors. Units are wired for Cox and Verizon.

There are 396 parking spots in the lot directly across the street. Pets are allowed but there are breed and size restrictions.

Gazdacko said there are currently five to seven different model units that show different configurations of how renters can use the space in different ways.

Approximately one dozen people have already moved into the complex since the beginning of the month, and Gazdacko said the apartments have been attracting mainly young professionals and empty nesters who are looking to downsize.

Contractors are expected to still be in the building for the next several weeks, finishing little bits and pieces, Gazdacko said.

“The city has been wonderful to work with,” he said. The help from local officials has been important in making the project a success, he said.

Dylan Zelazo, chief of staff to Mayor Donald Grebien, said it’s exciting to see the transformation of the mill, particularly given its previous unsightly but prominent appearance from Route 95.

The mill, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, was built in the early 1900s. Hope Webbing Company Mill, a textile company, occupied the structure until it was sold in the 1950s to School House Candy, which manufactured a variety of candy such as jelly beans and lollipops through 1998, according to the Village Lofts’ website. Urban Smart Growth purchased the property in 2005 and received state and federal historic tax credits Construction kicked off a year and a half ago and took approximately 18 months to complete, Gazdacko said. The biggest unknown was wood deterioration and replacement, but they allotted extra funds for that and stayed within budget.

Captured March 13, 2021 from https://www.valleybreeze.com/2020-01-21/pawtucket/village-lofts-open-behind-hope-artiste-village