Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rocking Out in Rockdale Common Housing District

Rockdale area first mill was built in 1814 by Sylvanus Holbrook for producing textiles, especially satinet. The growth of his businesss was great until he faced firs in 1841 and 1851, which devastated the local village of Rockdale. In 1856 P. Whitin & Sons bought both the mill site and water rights. The Whitins had already made their stake in Whitinsville (Northbridge as well) and built a new mill in 1857 for producing cotton cloth. The Sr retired from the family business and divided up his holdings between the four sons and this mill became Paul Whitin, Jr,'s.

In keeping with the Whitin philosophy of building entire towns including housing, schools, meeting places and other civic building, the Whitin Manufacturing Company built tenement houses to attract workers with comfortable and affordable housing to a very rural area. The Rockdale Common Housing District comprises 6 tenement buildings reflecting some of the last housing constructed by the Whitin family.

This particular tenement dates back to 1880. It was moved to this site sometime in the early 20th century. It is beyond me how they moved buildings of this size, but the Egyptians figured out how to move and lift those huge blocks to build the pyramids, so this move had to be a snap.

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There are 4 identical 3 story tenements, 1 on Plantation St and 3 on McBride St, all built in 1917. These are 3 bedroom apartments and in immaculate shape. This whole neighborhood is low income housing and it is impressive how clean and tidy the whole area is.

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The last style is a long tenement built in 1915 located on Taft St

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Map of the area. The circled area to the right is the Rockdale Common Housing District. The circled are to the left is the Rockdale Mill

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