Newspaper article about the 1860 fire Newport Steam Factory, Newport Rhode Island
This article appeared in the Newport Mercury on November 10, 1860.
About 8 o'clock Thursday evening, while Thames Street was thronged with people to witness the display proposed by the Wide-Awakers, a cry of fire was sounded through the city....The Fire Department ... proceeded to the "Old Stone Factory," where they found a fire raging within the walls which gave every appearance of causing a serious conflagration. When the alarm was given, the fire was burning in the passageway leading from the picker-house (which is a distinct building at the southeast corner of the mill) to the main building. Before the engines arrived, the powerful forcepump of Messrs. Mason and Bradford, attached to their Lead Works, was got to work, and had nearly extinguished the fire when the water gave out. The fire then rapidly extended into the Mill, and by the time the engines commenced working the second and third stories were engulfed in flames. There being a strong wind from the northwest the fire increased in fury, and finally broke through the roof at the west end....
As it became known to be impossible to save the Mill, attention was turned to saving the property surrounding it, and streams from several engines were directed on to the Lead Works and dwelling house at the east, and by these efforts not a building in the vicinity was even scorched. The Lead Works, which is a wooden building situated within thirty feet of the factory, miraculously escaped, to the gratification of every citizen who feels an interest in the prosperity of our city and the success of this enterprising firm.
About 3 O'clock Friday morning, after seven hours of hard labor .... the extent of the damage much less than thousand loafers who stood in Thames street, deaf to the calls of the fireman for assistance had predicted. The second and third stories, some of the works of the lower floor, and machinery in pickerhouse were destroyed; but the new and beautiful engine worth $3,000, five speeders on lower floor worth $5,000, were saved undamaged. The walls of the factory and picker-house, which were of stone, were injured but little, leaving property saved amounting to $10,000. The insurance, part of which was effected but six weeks since, was for $30,000, as follows: Gaspee, $5,500, Washington, $5,000; Merchants, $5,000; Slater, $2,000; Atlantic, $4,000; Hope, $5,000; American. $3,000. This will more than cover the loss. The number of hands employed in the mill was sixty-four.
This mill was built in 1831 by a corporation, and cost about $40,000. It continued in operation until September 1857, the owners being compelled to stop it then on account of the depression of the cotton manufacturing business, and as their losses were very heavy. In April 1858, it was purchased by Messrs. Rodioan and Sons, of South Kingston, for $9,500, and after the change of the machinery and putting up a new engine, and other matters which swelled the evaluation to about $25,000, it was used for factories at South Kingston. At the time of destruction it was turning out about 7000 lbs. of Warp per week, and making a saving to the owners of about $15,000 per annum, between the cost of manufacture and the market prices..,. We are pleased to learn that Messrs, Rodman and Sons have decided to rebuild at once, and will commence today to clear the ruins.