In 1789, an Englishman by the name of Samuel Slater decided to take his knowledge
of British manufacturing technology to America. After arriving in New York,
Slater moved on to Rhode Island, where he soon put his knowledge to work. Moses
Brown, who was a local Quaker merchant, had already set up a mill in Pawtucket
with the help of his son-in-law and a nephew, though there were various problems
that led to the mill's poor output. Brown was in the business of making cloth,
and his original machines just couldn't keep up with the challenge. Enter Samuel
Slater. Slater helped to redesign the machines, basing them off of the machines
that he was familiar with back in England. In 1793, Slater and Brown's partnership
resulted in North America's first water-powered textile mill. Slater's work
essentially kick started the American Industrial Revolution, of which Slater
himself is credited for being the father of. The famous Slater Mill still rests
on the banks of the Blackstone River in downtown Pawtucket, and visiting it
is among the top things
to do in the state.
The Slater Mill Historic Site is hailed as "the Birthplace of the American Revolution," so it's understandable that so many Rhode Island visitors add it to their itineraries. On your Slater Mill Pawtucket visit, the mill that you will see today is different from the original structure, as it was added onto several times in the 1800s. The Slater Mill carried on its role as a textile spinning mill up until 1895, and it was used for other industrial purposes up until 1923. It was in 1923 that the mill started on its path to becoming a museum. Restorations to the structure aimed to return it to its 1835 appearance, and it was in 1955 that the Slater Mill Museum finally opened to the public. Wilkinson Mill, which is a nearby mill, was also restored as part of the Slater Mill Pawtucket project, and you can enjoy tours of it as well. At the Slater Hill Museum, visitors can view textile machinery that dates back to the early days, and detailed commentaries are provided by costumed narrators. At the Wilkinson Mill, the mill wheel is the top attraction. It weighs 16,000 pounds and is a replica of the earliest Blackstone River Valley mill wheel.
The Sylvanus Brown House also figures among the structures that you can tour at the Slater Mill Historic Site. Inside the Sylvanus Brown House, you can learn all about the valley's overall cultural heritage and how the spinning and weaving industry figured prominently in the everyday lives of past residents. While the Wilkinson Mill was built in 1810, the Sylvanus Brown House was built in 1758, making it the oldest surviving structure at the Slater Mill Historic Site. The Slater Mill Historic Site price of admission, which is very agreeable, includes all of the site's historic buildings. The Slater Mill Museum is open throughout the year, though you will have to book a group tour by appointment if you wish to visit it between the months of November and February. In March and April, the site is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May through October, which is the high season for Rhode Island travel, sees the Slater Mill Historic Site open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day save for Monday.
It's worth keeping in mind that the Slater Mill serves as the sight for some
fun annual festivals and
special events. Riversing is among the top festivals held here, and it's a live
music celebration that takes place on June 20. The Slater Mill Historic Site
also serves as a main venue for the Pawtucket Arts Festival, which spans the
course of a month in late summer. Before or after your Slater Mill Pawtucket
visit, you are encouraged to drift over to nearby Providence,
where the old homes on Benefit
Street are among a series of historic sites and districts.