Old Mills Making New Products

The carnage in Detroit (and so many other U.S. cities), where hundreds of gorgeous industrial buildings are either wasted by neglect or outright demolition, need not always happen. Since the 1970s, hundreds of historic industrial buildings have found new uses as offices, apartments and shopping centers.

One use that is often overlooked is manufacturing. But in Cranston, R.I., an old mill along the Pawtuxet River produces coated paper. Writes Thomas J. Morgan in the Providence Journal:

A mill, known today as Arkwright Advanced Coating, occupies buildings on opposite sides of the street. Celebrating 200 years of manufacturing, the company is moving spiritedly into its third century, no mean feat in a state where old factories have crumbled by the score under the press of fire, flood or urban renewal.

One interesting fact about the factory is that the owners are considering using water to generate electricity to power the mill. So many mills and small dams in the U.S. have been neglected and destroyed. And while harvesting that energy is sometimes expensive, with new technology, harvesting that energy might again be feasible.

The assumption that old buildings cannot be used for manufacturing is incorrect; very often with new technology, the process of making things is different, and less labor intensive.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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