Slater Mill wins grant for exterior renovations

Slater Mill wins grant for exterior renovations

Some of the damage that will be repaired as part of an exterior restoration project at the Slater Mill. (Valley Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET - The trustees of the Old Slater Mill Association announced last week that they've received a grant of $483,000 from the Champlin Foundations to complete exterior renovations of the Slater Mill. The grant is the largest single award ever received by the OSMA.

Planned exterior improvements include replacement of the roof, repair of damaged clapboards, new paint, and restoration of windows. Both in process and upon completion, the project will enhance museum programming by showcasing the work of historic preservation as part of the experience for visitors, including thousands of area students, according to those who run the historic site.

Charles Whitin, grant writer for the Slater Mill, previously told The Breeze that the exterior rehab and paint job are important to maintaining the Slater Mill historic site as "the face of Pawtucket."

Kasey Johnson, development associate at the Slater Mill Museum, said that staff are in the "very early stages" of planning the project, and don't have a lot of specifics on how it will be done.

Johnson said she expects the color of the mill to stay the same. The roof on the mill was last replaced nearly 20 years ago, she said, and the last paint job and window restoration project also happened many years ago.

Built by Almy, Brown & Slater and completed in 1793, the wood-framed Slater Mill is a national historic landmark and museum located on the banks of the Blackstone River in downtown Pawtucket.

The stone Wilkinson Mill next door underwent significant exterior repair work earlier this year, and staff at the Slater Mill are planning a number of other upgrades at the as they look to better engage the public.

This is the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning mill in America, standing as a monument to the young nation's transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. The museum houses a library and an archive containing artifacts, textiles, books, and documents. Exhibits include an operating 16,000-pound waterwheel, a water-powered machine shop, and operating textile machinery.

An estimated 11,000 students from surrounding communities visit the museum each year, as well as thousands of local, regional, national, and international visitors.

"We are extremely grateful to the Champlin Foundations for their generous grant and for their recognition of Slater Mill as an important historic regional and national resource," said OSMA Board President Jerauld Adams in a statement. "The significant repairs to the mill's exterior, funded by Champlin Foundations, will ensure that the museum remains sound and accessible to visitors for generations through interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the rich history of Samuel Slater and the enterprise that heralded the start of the American Industrial Revolution."

The Slater Mill Museum is located at 67 Roosevelt Ave., next to Pawtucket City Hall. It is open to the public seven days a week from May through October and open on weekends during March, April, and November. From December through February, the Slater Mill Museum is open to visitors by appointment. School groups are welcome throughout the year by appointment. Visit www.slatermill.org for more information about scheduled activities and programs.

The Slater Mill in Pawtucket over the weekend. (Valley Breeze Photo By David Wuerth)