Thurston Manufacturing formerly Atlantic Rayon


Part of the I-195 Relocation project. The buildings were in good shape and housed manufacturing up until they were bought by the state for the highway project. The RIHPHC has a full account of the history of the site as well as interior photographs:

Atlantic Rayon/Thurston Manufacturing (Thurston Saw) was historically significant as a small manufacturer developed in the 19th and 20th century specializing in textiles and metal-working, two of Providence’s prominent industries. The complex had associations with Royal Little, industrial entrepreneur, and the creation of Textron, Inc. The metalworking area, the oldest section of the building, was home to Thurston Saw, a manufacturer of fine saws and cutting tools since the 1930s.

Architecturally, the buildings were representative examples of industrial construction from about 1873 to 1930. The complex was made up of five major four- and five-story brick buildings, with one-story extensions, and three smaller one-story utility buildings. Few changes have been made to the buildings since the 1940s. The complex was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

The first building was constructed in 1873 for the Union Eyelet Company, a manufacturer of brass eyelets for clothing and shoes. George Boyden purchased the company in 1911 and converted it for the manufacture of knitted hosiery. Boyden had established a dry goods store on High Street (now Westminister) in 1875 and was a large stockholder in several local companies. By about 1930, the main building had been sold to Thurston Manufacturing, and the remainder of the complex was sold to Franklin Rayon Corp.

Thurston Manufacturing was founded by Horace Thurston in 1883 at 419 Eddy Street. Thurston apprenticed at Corliss Steam Engine Co., was employed by Providence Tool Co., served as a foreman for Brown & Sharpe, and was a master mechanic for Cummer Engine of Ohio. They started as millers of cutting plates for jewelry businesses, and later expanded to produce precision cutting saws for all types of materials and industries.

Cathy Corey Oct 13 2015 My Dad worked at Atlantic Rayon second shift. I knew it as Robinson Rayon. He had many friends and he helped many from the “old country” get a job there. Every one called him Perry. He retired from there in 1988 I think after 20 or 25 years. That company was purchased by greyhound. The only reason I know that is we used to get a Go Greyhound monthly magazine through his job.

Bob Rose Dec 28 2008 It was the early 1950’s. I lived on Lockwood Street in South Providence in a house my parents owned. Lottie Grant, an unmarried older woman who was born in England, lived and rented downstairs for many years. She worked on the first floor in that building known as Thurston Manufacturing. There was a playground next door. I remember many times going to that playground with my friends and we would look into the window of the building and Lottie would come over and give us a big smile and say hello. We enjoyed seeing her and vice-versa. Memories like that trump anything these kids today get from their electronic gadgets.

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

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