Dye House of the Weybosset Mills

also known as Waterman’s Eagle Steam Mill, American Woolen Company

A late ninteenth century dye house of the larger Weybosset Mills which has lately become a boutique hotel

About this Property

#Redevelopment

The Dye House of the Weybosset Mills company saw its hey days at the turn of the century. 10 years after construction, the successful Weybosset Mills attracted the attention of the American Woolen Company who was purchasing and consolidating dozens of smaller factories. They went on to be a world leader and major supplier of woolen products to the U.S. Government during World War I.

Since the 1930s, however, the buildings of the former Weybosset Mills were subdivided and repurposed for various industrial uses. The former Dye House was the headquarters for the Modern Trucking Company since 1956. Their tenure at this location lasted through the 80s while they shared space with a custom furniture company and into 2007.

From 2007 until 2015, Studio AD, an architectural firm, used the Dye House as their office. Studio AD, Ltd. was established in 2005 by Christopher J. Henderson. Previous to renovating the Dye House, they had renovated and repurposed an 1856 firehouse on the corners of Putnam and Amherst Streets.1

From 2015 until 2019, the Dye House was a studio and home of ceramist J. Schatz.

#Current Events

The Dye House is currently a small boutique hotel with open concept community space. All of the interior fixtures down to the linens and the ceramics in the studio apartment are created and provided by local artisans within a small radius.

#History

From the National Register Form for the Weybosset Mills complex, 2008, by Jenny R. Fields and Alyssa L. Wood, PAL

In 1864, woolen manufacturers Royal Chapin Taft and William B. Weeden purchased the Waterman Mills east of Troy Street and immediately began preparing the mills for woolen and cassimere production. […] In 1866, Royal C. Taft, James W. Taft, and William B. Weeden incorporated the Weybosset Corporation. […] Production at the Weybosset Mills grew steadily, necessitating the enlargement and improvement [of structures including] the one-story Dye House […] before 1882. The Weybosset Corporation continued new construction through the 1880s and 1890s and expanded its products to include worsted cloth. […]

William M. Wood of Lawrence, MA and Charles Fletcher, owner of the National and Providence Worsted Mill headed the formation of the American Woolen Company, which incorporated in February 1899. The original merger included [mills in Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island and went on to incoporate another 20 companies by June of 1899]. […] The American Woolen Company used the Weybosset Mills to produce worsted and cassimere products, including piece-dyed goods and cloth for overcoats and cloaks. […]

The American Woolen Company continued full production at all of the Providence Mills until the late 1920s. In 1924, American Woolen still owned 60 woolen and worsted mills in New England, but shortly after, the decrease in wool demand caused the reorganization of the Providence and other mills. In April 1928, American Woolen completed plans for the abandonment of the Weybosset and Valley mills. […]

From 1931 to 1934, the American Woolen Company slowly sold off the Weybosset Mill buildings and American Woolen-owned land parcels. […] The occupants of the Weybosset Mill buildings slowly made small alterations, including the demolition of the overhead passageways between the mills […]. The factory was originally located one block south of its current location but the factory was displaced by the construction of Route 6 through that block.

Architecture

Dye House (circa 1880/1900) — The Dye House is a north-south oriented building that extends from [Weybosset] Mill No. 2, north along Troy Street to Dike Street. It consists of a long circa 1880 production shed building with a circa 1900 one-story addition on the north elevation. The Dye House is a one and one-half story by 16-bay-by-two-bay rectangular building. It has a flat roof with metal flashing and brick walls. The first story fenestration consists of short, wide segmental arched window openings with three-course brick lintels and granite sills. Most of these window openings contain fixed 12-pane windows covered by metal grilles. The second story was created from a long box monitor, altered to extend to the east and west sides of the building. The south end of the east elevation contains four bays of paired, nine-pane, wood sash, casement windows that extend to the soffit line. In the remaining bays, these windows continue as a window band. Except for one window, the northern six bays of the window band are covered over with asphalt shingle. On the west elevation, only the four southern bays and one center bay are exposed at the second floor. The north elevation contains one typical first-story window in the western bay.

Four modern personnel doors and two modern garage doors are located in the building. On the east elevation, a personnel door in the connector to Mill No. 2 and in the north bay fit within original segmental arch openings. A metal personnel door with an I-beam lintel in the fifth bay and a metal garage door at the twelfth bay from the south end were cut into the building. A metal roll garage door with six windows and a steel lintel is located in the east bay of the north elevation. The west elevation contains paired wood panel doors with a space for a window above, in an original segmental arched opening in the south bay. A gambrel roof covers the 1920s one-bay brick extension of the building, located at the north end. A small chimney is centered on the ridge of this roof. The building served as a dye house until it was converted into an automobile repair business by 1956. It currently houses Modern Trucking, Inc., a trucking, rigging, and storage business.

Significance

[…] The Dye House and Weaving Room are two different examples of the single-story production shed. The Dye House is an earlier production shed, designed to accommodate the weight of an overhead crane and with a long monitor roof to provide more light. […]


From “Downtown Providence: Statewide Historical Preservation Report P-P-5,” prepared by the RIHPHC, May 1981

[…] Early 1870s structures include a small brick mill (mill number two) on the northeast corner of Troy and Oak Streets, a large stone ell on the eastern side of the earlier structure, and a small addition to the rear extension of the mill. These structures were used for scouring, picking, and dyeing the wool. […]

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

Weybosset Mills (1836-1881) Providence, Troy and Dike Streets — Built by John Waterman in 1836, the Weybosset Mill first produced cotton cloth. - 1866 brought a change of ownership, the introduction of cassimere manufacture, and the construction of a second mill for scouring, picking, and dyeing. A third mill, completed in 1881, housed carding and spinning machinery. The American Woolen Company, which bought the complex in 1899, produced worsteds, cassimeres, overcoatings, cloakings, and fancy colored fabrics. At-that time, the Weybosset Mills made from 1,100,000 to 1,500,000 yards of fabric per year.

Today the large central tower of the 1836 4-story, stuccoed-stone mill, 280’ x 50’, is obscured by a small brick building built directly in front of it. Two large 1872 4-story, stuccoed-stone ells, 157’ X 51’ and 107’ X 49’, protrude at the rear of the- main mill. The 1866, 3-story brick mill and a later 1-story weave shed with saw-tooth roof, are located behind the main mill. The third mill, a-4-story, stone structure, 168’ x 59’, is located on Oak and Dike Streets. It has been greatly altered with only the first floor showing sections of the original stone construction. No old machinery remains.

  1. Information gathered from an Archive.org capture of the Studio AD website circa 2010 at https://web.archive.org/web/20131212111215/http://studioad.us/index.htm