Various images of the Greystone Mill in North Providence, 1909
- Various images of the Greystone Mill in North Providence, 1909
Greystone was the site of the Coomer Farm in the late 18th century. In 1813, Captain Olney-Angell, Peleg Williams and Materson Latham built a 2-story stone textile mill here, equipping it with twenty looms. It was sold in 1816 to Richard Anthony, of Coventry, who had helped found the Coventry Company in 1805 in the village of Anthony. He made cotton cloth and sold the business in 1835 to Joseph Westcott, who enlarged the mill to three stories; its dimensions then were 80 feet by 40 feet.
In 1862, Zebulon Whipple sold the looms and put in spinning frames to manufacture yarn. In 1872, the building was damaged by fire and it was rebuilt by James and George Campbell for the production of rag paper. It burned again in 1877. The following year the White Brothers of Chepachet rebuilt it partially using it as a gristmill.
By 1882, it was the property of James Campbell, who made shoddy for woolen manufacturers. His son, Elisha, sold the site and the building, as a storehouse, to Joseph Benn and Company in 1904. The old mill survives as a ruin, its complex history a telling record of a typical small 19th-century Rhode Island water-power site of marginal economic potential.
The Joseph Benn Company of Bradford, England, manufacturers of mohair and alpaca, planned to relocate here, to escape the heavy British import taxes on wool. They spent over two and one half million dollars establishing a model industrial community with a new mill, mill housing, a social club and the Whitehall Building, where an auditorium, shops and quarters for overseers were located. Greystone became a community of over 1500 people, many recruited from Lancashire and Yorkshire to work as mill hands and wool sorters. The village is intact and is an excellent example of an early 20th-century company-owned industrial village.
Source: Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission- Historic and Architectural Resources of North Providence, Rhode Island: A Preliminary Report
Historic and Architectural Resources of North Providence, Rhode Island: A Preliminary report, 1978 April
Inventory of the Town and City Archives of Rhode Island; North Providence, (no.4, vol. X), 1942
North Providence: A History and the People Who Shaped It by Paul F. Caranci