Royal Mills Heritage Gallery

Royal Mills, built in 1890, was the flagship mill of the B.B. & R. Knight Co., makers of “Fruit-of-the-Loom” fabrics and the dominant 19th century industrial concern in Rhode Island’s Pawtuxet River Valley. PAL developed an interpretive gallery at Royal Mills in West Warwick, Rhode Island, for the Baltimore, MD-based private developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. (SBER).

The project is an example of PAL’s historical interpretation capabilities, including development of concept, creation of content, and coordination of installation.

Process & Results

The Heritage Gallery is a highlight of the rehabilitation project that transformed this historic textile mill complex for residential and commercial use using historic preservation tax credits.

The Gallery is a product of collaboration with SBER development and construction teams, project architects, and interior designers. PAL engaged and coordinated the work of a graphic and exhibit designer for image and text panels and artifact displays, a videographer and folklorist for video interviews with mill workers, and local artisans to restore and install machinery and exhibit cabinets.

Royal Mills history is interpreted through exploration of four themes:

  • Pawtuxet River Valley: geographical, social, economic, and industrial history
  • Royal Mills: corporate and physical growth and development including association with the B.B. & R. Knight Company, Fruit-of-the-Loom products, and the important 1920s labor strikes
  • Life and Work: interviews with former workers and others associated with the mill, the community, and the renaissance of the site
  • Technology: including power generation and transmission, and fabric weaving and finishing.

Located in the boiler house overlooking the Pawtuxet River, the Heritage Gallery is open to Royal Mills residents, school classes, and the public via the Pawtuxet River Walk.

Client Name: 
Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc
Project Name: 
Royal Mills Heritage Gallery
Project Date: 
2005 to 2008
Project Location: 
West Warwick, Rhode Island