Slater Mill is a historic textile mill complex in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, modeled after cotton spinning mills that were first established in England. The Slater Mill is notorious for being the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in North America to use Richard Arkwright’s Arkwright system of cotton spinning.
The mill’s founder, Samuel Slater, apprenticed with industrialist Jedediah Strutt as a young man in Belper, England. Slater was hired by Moses Brown of Providence, Rhode Island, shortly after arriving in the United States. Slater was tasked to create a working set of machines required to spin cotton yarn using water power. The machines, as well as a dam, waterway, waterwheel, and mill, were completed in 1793. Richard Arkwright’s cotton-spinning system, which included carding, drawing, and spinning machines, served as the foundation for production. Slater initially hired children and families to work in his mill, establishing a pattern that became known as the “Rhode Island System” and was replicated throughout the Blackstone Valley. It was eventually surpassed by Francis Cabot Lowell’s Waltham System.
The non-profit Old Slater Mill Association was established in 1921 with the goal of preserving the historic mill. Efforts to restore the mill began in 1923 when modern additions were removed, restoring the mill to its 1835 appearance. It became a museum in 1955. On November 13, 1966, Slater Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark, making it the first property to be listed on the register.
The mill was added to the newly formed Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park in December 2014. The Slater Mill site is now a museum, educational center, and music venue.
Looking for more great spots to explore nearby? Check out the GoXplr Rhode Island Map at goxplr.com/map/rhode-island!
- Opened: 1793
- Original function: Textile mill complex on the banks of the Blackstone River
- Architect(s): Unknown
- Year added to NRHP: 1966
- NRHP number: 66000001
- Status: Public
- Admission cost: Admission to the Slater Mill Museum is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8.50 for children 6-12, and free for those under 6. The visitor center is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays through Sundays. Ranger-led programs, including mill tours, are also available at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.