Back in 2001, PPS listed Nineteenth-Century Mill Buildings collectively on the MEP list. Threats, at the time, included deferred maintenance, high vacancy rates, and development pressures in addition to loss by fire and demolition and the contemporary struggle to save Eagle Square Mills. Individual mills have also been listed: Atlantic Mills (1893, 1899) on Manton Avenue has been listed six times since 2009, and Earnscliffe Woolen Mill/Paragon Worsted Co. (1898 and later), also on Manton Avenue, was listed in 2018.
Although 18 years have passed since the Eagle Square development and many former mill and industrial buildings have been adaptively reused with great success, many remain threatened by decay, lack of development, and under-utilization. The main difference in the intermediate years is that the City of Providence adopted the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District in 2002, the region’s first noncontiguous and thematic local historic district designed to safeguard this group of buildings against demolition.
This year, community members nominated two industrial buildings, the Narragansett Converter Station (1914) 7 Dike Street and Mill No. 2 at Weybosset Mills Complex (1866), 239 Oak Street. Rather than listing them individually, PPS chooses to list all of the historical commercial and industrial buildings of Olneyville, where much of this type of vulnerable building stock is located. The intention is to draw attention to the properties still struggling to find new use, and financing, in the 21st century. These structures now have local preservation protection against development-initiated demolition, but they are not immune from demolition by neglect or vandalism. An important reflection of the city’s industrial heritage, PPS is hopeful that remaining industrial and
commercial buildings will be restored and put back into use in the near future.
– 2019 Most Endangered Properties