William Morgan: Yankee industry and architectural beauty in a rural setting

(All photos, except as indicated, by William Morgan)

Halfway between the suburban sprawl of North Attleboro, Mass., and the tired mill city of Woonsocket, R.I., lies the remains of a rural mill village, of the kind that once dotted the Rhode Island landscape.

Almost 300 years ago, a saw mill was planted along the edge of Abbott Run. Amos Arnold, who gave his name to the small settlement, erected a grist mill here in the 1740s, as well as a gambrel-roofed house.

The road through the village was long ago bypassed by Route 120, while the bridge across the mill stream is closed to automobile traffic. While the once agricultural landscape of northern Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts has fallen prey to thoughtless development, Arnold Mills offers a glimpse into the Yankee blend of industry within a rural setting.

  Amos Arnold house, Arnold Mills, Sneech Pond Road, Cumberland, R.I.

Amos Arnold house, Arnold Mills, Sneech Pond Road, Cumberland, R.I.

  The Metcalf Mill, gone by c1963.    -- Photo: Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission

The Metcalf Mill, gone by c1963.

-- Photo: Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission

  Abbott Run, with dam and mill pond beyond (now the Pawtucket Reservoir), the bridge is an early 20th-Century Pratt truss.

Abbott Run, with dam and mill pond beyond (now the Pawtucket Reservoir), the bridge is an early 20th-Century Pratt truss.

  This Cape Cod cottage overlooking Abbott Run was built around 1800, but it got a Greek revival update in 1837.

This Cape Cod cottage overlooking Abbott Run was built around 1800, but it got a Greek revival update in 1837.

  The Dr. Addison Knight House, 1847. Still the cottage form, but thoroughly Greek revival with its Doric columns, full entablature and doorway with sidelights.

The Dr. Addison Knight House, 1847. Still the cottage form, but thoroughly Greek revival with its Doric columns, full entablature and doorway with sidelights.

William Morgan is a Providence-based architectural historian, journalist and book author.