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The Earnscliffe Woolen/Paragon Worsted Company Mill complex consists of 11 industrial buildings dating from the late 19th to the mid-20th century.  It sits on four acres on the Woonasquatucket River in Olneyville and has a long textile and manufacturing history.  The word “worsted” refers to a smooth yarn spun from wool.

The 1- to 3-story brick buildings were designed to accommodate specific processing stages of textile production and then adapted and extended over time as needs changed.  The original section of the oldest building was designed by George Leach and built by the Providence firm of Maguire and Penniman at the close of the 19th century.

Collectively, the buildings represent an important connection to Providence’s industrial heritage, the way people lived and worked, and the use of the Woonasquatucket River as an economic engine.  The site encompasses 115,000 square feet ripe for rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.  The scale and scope of the project make it a prime candidate for historic tax credits.

The mill complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a local Industrial and Commercial Landmark, which means that the Historic District Commission has purview over its preservation. 

Related Works:

In 2018-2019, PPS commissioned Rhode Island-based artists to create original works of art for four sites included on the 2018 Most Endangered Properties list. The Strange Attractor Theater Company created She Died for Our Convenience, a “one-night-only choral haunting concerning the women who worked from 1898-1960 in the textile mill at the Earnscliffe Woolen Mill/Paragon Worsted Co. on Manton Ave in the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence, RI.”

Read the event prologue here, and then watch a video of the performance.

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.