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Rudolph Berry’s company, established in 1883 to manufacture ribbed knitted hosiery and underwear previously imported from Europe, was so successful after ten years that the company was able to build the round-cornered, corbel-cornice building at the corner of Basset Street to house its operations, as well as to provide some rental space for jewelry manufacturers crowded into nearby buildings. While the company occupied most of the original buildings, it took advantage in 1903 of the rapidly growing jewelry industry to build on land immediately to its south a second building devoted largely to rented space for jewelry manufacturers. The large utilitarian 1903 building lacks the subtle decorative treatment found in the signature corporate headquarters. The company managed to weather the Great Depression, but closed its doors in 1941 and sold the buildings to the Imperial Knife Company, already occupying space in the 1903 building. Imperial Knife, which continued in operation here into the 1980s, was the first large American manufacturer of jackknives, a product previously imported mostly from Germany and England. In 1987-88 the complex was handsomely rehabilitated for offices and studios, with design work by architects James Barnes and Clifford M. Renshaw.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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