For info on leasing opportunities, visit www.millproject.org
After many years in decay during the 80s and 90s, many people remember with fondness the wide open spaces of the mill filled with art studios and all types of people and their creations. The events at Eagle Square were a wake up call to some artists, though, who realized that these buildings had way more intrinsic value to the community as well as the artists who inhabit them, and if they were going to continue to be a viable part of the community and not be subject to a developers whim, they would have to organize and buy the building. In 2002, a group of four friends did just that.
Since then, the buildings have been steadily renovated and recycled into residential live/work units – some market rate, and some subsidized using HOME funds. These units will have resale restrictions in order to ensure they remain affordable in perpetuity and available only to artists who qualify under the selection criteria. Much care has been taken to reuse as much of the original building as possible, and some parts have even been recycled from other buildings (example – many of the interior copper clad doors came from the Brown Marvel gym).
From RIHPHC 1981 Survey: Established by Paine and Sackett in 1866 as a woolen mill, the main building is a 4-story brick structure with granite trim, a flank-gambrel roof, and a 5-story flat-topped tower which originally had a steep hip roof. This main structure originally housed an engine room, boiler room, drying room, and packing room. The tower contained stairways, dressing rooms, and an elevator. The 2-story hip-roofed building contained woolshops and more boiler and engine rooms. The mill specialized in the production of fancy assimers and was known during its twenty-one years in operation as one of the best woolen manufacturers in the country.
In 1887 the mill was taken over by the Armington & Sims Engine company, est. in 1878 by Pardon Armington and Gardiner Sims, which was formerly located on the western part of Westminster Street. The company built engines for the Riverside Worsted Company, the Silver Springs Dying and Bleaching Company, and other mills in the US and abroad. In the 1880s the company won several gold medals for its engines at national and international expositions.
Probably due to the business depression following the panic of 1893, Armington and Sims failed in 1896 and the factory and machinery were sold off at auction to Julius Palmer, F.M. Bushnell and James M. Scott. The new company, which retained the A&S name, was sued by Armington and Sims who had not given them permission to operate under the former name. The name of the company was changed to the Eastern Engine Company and lasted until 1903.
During the 20th century, the mill was used by several worsted companies, one of which was the Cleveland Worsted Mills, which occupied the mills for almost 20 years. In the 1940s and early 50s the mill was occupied by machinery dealers, worsted mills, a rug manufacturer and a jewelry manufacturer.
Robert W. Merriam I am impressed by your web site. The New England Wireless and Steam Museum is fortunate in having the city of Hartford’s first generating plant (1883) in operating condition. It uses a 25 HP A & S engine driving a Thomson Houston generator.
Bert Armington Interesting also that the Armington & Sims engine was chosen by Thomas Edison for his Pearl Street power station in New York due to its accurate speed control (no more flickering lights). Armington & Sims engines were also the first to provide power to the Houses of Parliament in London.
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