Silver Springs Bleaching & Dyeing Company

also known as the U.S. Finishing Company

An early demolition of a large mill complex that flew under the radar in the early 2000s. Replaced by a Home Depot shopping center.

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

This large mill complex was demolished for a new Home Depot shopping center. There were tenants (small businesses, studios, a karate school, a rug store) up until demolition. This project came along right before the Eagle Square fight, which raised a lot of alarms. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t on the radar for most people, so it happened without any fuss. If anyone has more of the story on the developer and the fight to save the building, or more photos, please contact us.

In June 2004, A.I.R. added an aerial photo from the HABS/HAER (Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record) database. Notice the Zayre’s behind it. Zayre’s was a department store, similar to an Ames which came later on. The site of this Ames is now the site of a Walmart (since ~2008).

Current Events

Currently a Home Depot occupies this land (2020). The brick facade and mill-like details were a direct result of community pressure to make the shopping center blend in with the industrial surroundings on Charles Street.


From “RHODE ISLAND: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites”, Gary Kulik and Julia C. Bonham, 1978

Although incorporated in 1864 as the Silver Spring Bleaching and Dyeing Company, the old Silver Spring Bleachery began operating in 1850. The bleachery derived its name from the copious and pure springs just west of the works which provided a necessary source of clean water to the bleach and dye houses.

In 1877, the company engaged in textile printing, turning out 14,000 pieces a week by 1891. Corliss steam engines and electric motors provided 3,300 horsepower for the 51⁄2-acre complex. There were two separate boiler plants, one which remains. It has huge arched windows and buttressed walls, and once contained three mammoth boilers. Only the conveyor belts of the chain-grate stoking system can be observed inside. The complex as a whole has not been changed greatly, though several of the old 1, 2, and 3-story brick structures have been destroyed. Several small firms now occupy the site.

From the RIHPHC’s survey of Providence Industrial Sites, July 1981

The Silver Springs Bleaching and Dyeing Co. was formed in 1864 when Henry Lippitt and Charles Merriman bought the buildings, land, and water rights to Frieze and Dow’s bleachery on the west side of Charles Street. Frieze and Dow had gained a reputation for the extraordinary whiteness of their goods which was due to the clear water produced by the spring at the West River which ran through the mill site.

Nothing remains today [ed: this was written in 1981] of the original Frieze and Dow mill. In the late 1870’s, the Company began to have problems getting a clean supply of water due to the new mills located up river. A dam and two reservoirs were built in the hopes that the pollutants would settle to the bottom. This did not help, and the company began to get water from driven wells and the city water supply. By 1897 the Company had expanded considerably and employed 575 workers. In 1905 it was bought by a large combine, the US Finishing Company. The Finishing company sold the plant in 1939.

Many of the original 1864 structures remained before demolition, although much had be altered or added to. The mills were 2- and 3-story brick flat-roofed or slightly pitched roofed structures, some with clerestory monitors and corbeled cornices. Behind the boiler house was a tall brick chimney with the names of both Silver Springs Company and US Finishing painted on it.

In the News

Brothers keep costs down at Silver Spring

by Paul Davis
Providence Journal | December 24, 1989 (abridged)

Twenty-two years ago, Andrew A. Jeremiah moved his jewelry business into a building at Silver Spring Center, a former textile mill in a little-known part of the city. He rented the building for 20 cents a square foot.

Now Andrew, along with his brother Bruce, owns Silver Spring Center, a 45,000-square-foot business complex on Charles and Silver Streets.

The brothers are still leasing space at reasonable rates — as little as $2 a square foot in some buildings. But they’re also looking for more upscale tenants.

They no longer want people to ask: Silver Spring Center, where’s that?

Earlier this year, the brothers spent $250,000 to renovate a half dozen offices fronting Charles Street. The developer attracted some tenants with modest prices and touches such as polished brass hinges, terra cotta cornices and custom-built space.

Now the brothers want to fill the empty second floor with tenants — part of a plan to create a business, restaurant and industrial mix in the 12-acre complex once dominated by textile and jewelry-related businesses.

“It’s an excellent location with a lot of land. The buildings are architecturally interesting. And they’ve got parking, which is key,” said Larry Steingold, an industrial broker with Ryan Elliott & Co. of Rhode Island in Providence. […]

“This place is a sleeper,” added Andrew Jeremiah. “We’ve never promoted it. But it’s got five acres of parking, and it’s next to Routes 146 and 95, the Marriott and downtown Providence. It’s like a little city.”

The U.S. Finishing Company, a southern textile mill, began work on the complex in 1864, and added the last building in 1922.

The complex, which has changed hands four times in 60 years, includes three main buildings and numerous additions and wings.

The Jeremiah brothers bought most of the complex six years ago from Danal Realty, a subsidiary of Danal Jewelry. Two years later they bought Danal’s jewelry building in the complex, when the family sold the business.

A few years later, about 90 percent of the buildings were leased, mostly to jewelry companies.

But last year, the Jeremiah brothers began letting some of the leases expire “if the tenants weren’t clean,” Bruce said.

At the same time, they began renovating the buildings facing Charles Street, cleaning brick exteriors, painting windows and walls, and customizing space with partitions, carpeting and new lighting.

The brothers have renovated six spaces since January. More are planned, but to renovate the entire complex could cost anywhere from $25 million to $45 million, Andrew said.

“Fortunately, we bought the building six years ago, at a price that wasn’t inflated,” he added. “We don’t have to create a lot of debt and then suffer through months of vacancies.”

[…] The brothers also plan to partially dismantle one Charles Street mill and build a new signature building in its place. The building will have elevators, a restaurant, and include a glass or granite front, Andrew said.

[…] About 40 tenants lease space in the complex. Recent tenants include Narragansett Electric, Monti CPA, LeBeau Santangini Inc. Advertising, Schadegg and Co., and a photography studio.

[…] The two brothers keep their costs down by eliminating middlemen and doing the work themselves “slowly but surely, out of pocket, without a big bank debt,” Andrew said.

As a result, they can renovate space for $20 to $60 a square foot, Andrew said. That translates into a price break for tenants, he said.

“We do our own management, leasing, maintenance, construction, and hire our own subcontractors. We deal with nothing but hard costs. We don’t have soft costs — architectural fees, construction management costs or real estate agents.”

The company also burns recycled oil in a plant in the old boiler building, and plans to build a power plant to generate electricity for tenants, Andrew said. Electricity and heat are included in leasing costs, he said.

“When they talk about the recession, the guy who’s going to be hardest hit is on the guy leasing on the high end,” Andrew said.

DAVIS, PAUL. “Brothers keep costs down at Silver Spring.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. REAL ESTATE, 24 Dec. 1989, pp. G-01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 29 Dec. 2021.