Slatersville Mills

An early 19th-century complex with two granite stone mills in the first “Mill Village” is converted into residential apartments

About this Property


We love Slatersville for sentimental reasons. We grew up in North Smithfield, and Slatersville one of seven historic villages within the town. The mill along the river, the triangular town green up the hill, with a commercial block of stone, a town hall, the library and post office all felt so perfect and thought out. Well, come to find out, it was the first planned mill village in the state.

The mills were the village center since their inception in the early 1800s. Cotton and spinning were the primary manufacture. In the early 1900s, the mills converted to bleaching. This lasted until 1959, when the mills were purchased by Glass-Kraft for the manufacture of asphalt laminated glass fiber reinforced paper. The Weave Shed was used primarily, with the older granite mills used for storage. They started to fall into disrepair.

The stone mills, owning much to the stable nature of the stone they were built with, survived the years of deferred maintenance. With the careful and thoughtful redevelopment of the complex (luckily, right before the bust of 2008) these structures should remain in good repair for the coming decades.

The National Parks Service has a page which presents a self-guided walking tour of Slatersville.

Current Events

Leasing info, galleries, and floor plan are available at


Part of the Slatersville Historic District, registered April 1973.

Condensed from, captured in 2008

The village of Slatersville, in the town of North Smithfield, Rhode Island epitomizes the quintessence of a New England Village, but Slatersville (est. July 1807) is also recognized as America’s first planned industrial village, and its true heart is not the quaint common, but the massive stone mill along the river.

The area we know as Slatersville was, in the early 1800s, part of the town of Smithfield, and before that, in the 1600s, a part of the original “Providence Plantations.” As a part of Providence in 1636, it is believed the town was named for John Smith “the miller” who came to the area with Roger Williams in the original party of six, renegades from the Puritan religious establishment in Massachusetts. The first residents of the town followed the example of their leader in Providence and established good relations with the native Wampanoag’s, who used the area for hunting and fishing. There’s little doubt the numerous streams, ponds and waterways intersecting the landscape were attractive reasons to settle nearby.

For over 150 years, from 1635 to the dawn of the 18th century, time seems to have stood still. The life of a subsistence farmer and hunter symbolized by the serenity of a stagecoach ambling through town or a horse-drawn barge imperceptibly making its way along the canal tow-path had not yet given way to the intensity, regularity and precision found in the mills of the Industrial Revolution. The founding of Slatersville would mark a turning point in American history. For the first time, farmer families would trade labor for wages.

In 1790, Samuel Slater, a recent immigrant from England, was busy replicating from memory Richard Arkwright’s cotton spinning invention, which had launched the Industrial Revolution in England in 1768. Along with Providence investors Smith Brown and William Almy, the trio began successfully spinning yarn by the fall of 1792. And in 1793, the firm of Slater, Brown and Almy built the first successful cotton mill in the United States on the banks of the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (Slater Mill).

In 1803, Samuel Slater assigned his brother John the task of finding a site for a new mill. After searching throughout the region, he chose Buffum’s Mills, a small settlement along the Branch River where a saw-mill, gristmill and blacksmith’s shop were already in operation. They began buying up the land and water rights, and on July 4, 1807 the new stone mill was opened. It was the site of the 2nd cotton mill on the Blackstone River, and the first independently owned by the Slater’s. The original mill building was destroyed by fire in 1826, but was replaced by the large stone mill which stands on the site today. Behind the 1826 mills stands a stone mill of similar design built in 1843. The mills were powered by water from the 170 acre Slatersville reservoir.

Unlike Pawtucket, workers had to be recruited to work in the mills and there was a need for expanded housing for the new hires. This led to a uniquely structured “Mill Village.” The Slaters built homes for their workers, company stores, houses of worship — even the town hall — all within walking distance to the mill. This model came to be known as the Rhode Island System, and was duplicated all along the Blackstone River during the 1800s. The success of Slatersville proved that it was feasible to build mills outside of population centers, thus opening up the entire Blackstone Valley for industrialization. For those reasons, Slater earned the distinction as the “Father of American Manufactures” by President Jackson in the 1830s.

John Slater became the resident manager of the Slatersville mill and remained the driving force behind the village until his death in 1845. The mills as well as the village surrounding it continued to expand all through the 1800s. The Slater family continued to own Slatersville until 1900.


From “Historic and Architectural Resources of North Smithfield, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report,” Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission, September 1980

Slatersville Mills 1806 and later: The complex of industrial buildings along the Branch River focuses on the 1826 Mill, also known as the Center Mill, or Number 1 Mill. A 4-story structure, it has dressed-granite walls; a central, projecting, 5-story stair-tower; a flat roof; and additions at the rear. It replaced the original 1806 cotton mill which was destroyed by fire. Along the river, the long, 1 1⁄2-story, clapboard-sided 1806 Office Building is all that remains of the original mill complex. Its trap door monitor-roof windows are characteristic of early mill buildings. Behind the 1826 mill is the 1843 Granite Mill, or Number Three Mill, with a 4-story, square, projecting stair tower near the center. It was used as a weave shed and as a storehouse. Along the mill trench, or power canal, near Railroad Street, is the 1894 Weave Shed, a long, 2-story, brick structure.

In the News

The DSF Group Completes Redevelopment Of Nation’s Oldest Mill Village

by Andy Baron
Business Wire | January 30, 2008 (abridged)

The DSF Group, a leading private real estate investment firm, today announced that the American Industrial Revolution-era mill it owns in North Smithfield, R.I., has been completed and recognized for its design excellence and renovation.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Institute of Architects presented a merit award to Newport Collaborative Architects, Inc. of Providence for adaptive reuse/renovation of Slatersville Mill, built in 1806 during the height of the American Industrial Revolution. Now known as The Halstead at Slatersville Mill, the DSF-owned village complex has been renovated into a luxury 224-unit multi-family complex spread over four buildings.

Scott Winkler, project architect for Newport Collaborative, noted that the redesign posed challenges given that all structures were built more than a century ago. The oldest building on the site, constructed in 1806, now serves as the leasing office and clubhouse area, complete with sitting area, a fireplace, large screen TV and computer center. Renovations were also made to two granite mills, the “Center Mill” built in 1826 (stone mill with cupola) and “Spinning Mill” built in 1843 (stone mill without cupola), respectively. Finally, the former “Weave Mill,” built in 1893, was where threads were once woven into cloth (brick mill).

“Each building had its own challenge,” said Winkler. “Many of the buildings had fallen into disrepair and were almost beyond saving, but thanks to the group’s effort, the project was very successful.”

DSF is pleased to renovate this mill into one of the top multi-family complexes in the region. The amenities include the first Halstead Club in New England consisting of a 24-hour professionally designed fitness center with an indoor sports court, a 24-seat private screening room, business center complete with internet, residents lounge with 52-inch plasma TVs and billiard tables, resort style swimming pool overlooking the Branch River as well as walking and bicycle trails along the scenic Branch River.