Valley Falls Mill village is unique — it claims two municipalities as home — Central Falls and Cumberland.
The mill itself, built in 1849, still stands on the boundary — tethering both the city and the town to an industrial past.
“Impressive in its solidity, size, and scale, its symmetrical and regular façade set behind a tall projecting tower, the Valley Falls Mill is a landmark in the city; its distinctive tower can be seen from much of the surrounding area,” according to a National Register of Historic Places nomination form filed in the early 1970s. “One of the largest and handsomest mills in the region, it enjoys the advantages of an unusually attractive site on the river.”
Once home to the textile empire of the Chase family, the site was transformed in the 1990s to include a historic park, with walkways, ramps, bridges and signboards spelling out the area’s history for visitors to the mill complex, according to information from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
The small neighborhood — bounded by High Street, Broad Street, the Blackstone River and railroad tracks — hosted the booming textile industry in the 19th century. The mills on the Cumberland side of the neighborhood were knocked down in the 1930s, but the others remain as public housing and apartment complexes.
The Valley Falls Mill now contains more than 100 apartments. It is part of housing for seniors called Blackstone Falls. Building managers, on the building’s website, call the space a “hidden jewel” that has access to the city but maintains the quiet charm of the community.
In the early 1900s, the neighborhood’s population was mostly Syrian and Lebanese, according to the Central Falls Historical Society. Beginning in the 1920s, Portuguese immigrants settled in the area and remain today.
“It continues to be a thriving community with several active clubs and popular festivals,” according to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
The nearby Pawtucket-Central Falls train station is in early construction stages, and the village already provides easy access to Providence and other surrounding areas.
Multi-colored houses dot Division Street, many left from the industrial days, according to a National Register of Historic Places nomination form filed in the early 1970s. On the Cumberland side are larger homes within walking distance of the Town Hall building.
Residents enjoy access to bike paths and views of the mighty Blackstone River.
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