Small businesses don’t always have an easy time finding a location that is affordable, with the amenities of a city and in an environment that cultivates creativity and innovation. Pawtucket has made it easy for hundreds of small businesses to thrive. In a series of articles, spotlighting the mills of Pawtucket, we are focusing this week on Lorraine Mills and, in the articles that follow, the businesses that thrive within their walls.
Lorraine Mills traces its origins all the way back to 1868. Back then, the lot was home to a textile manufacturer that people of the time knew as the Mineral Spring Mill. The building that we know and love as Lorraine Mills was built a year later. What followed was a mashup of ownership changing hands as owners came and went, new additions and manufacturing pieces were built, and the years continued to pass.
Now, some one-hundred-and-fifty years later, it’s a beacon for Rhode Island’s artists, businesses, and craftspeople alike. They can all see the promise and feel the allure that the City of Pawtucket radiates in spades.
“The City has aggressively focused on repurposing our mill buildings for live/work space and for small businesses with great success,” said Mayor Donald Grebien. “Local developer have embraced our rich history and transformed our mills into a hub of activity once again.”
With a renewed focus on arts and the community, Lorraine Mills go one step further by acting as the base of operations for the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative, an organization dedicated to the support of local artists within the community. Lorraine Mills is home to sculptors and painters, silk screeners and dancers. Graphic, interior, and fashion designers round out what amounts to the tip of the iceberg. The studios range from big, to small, to a few shared spaces in between to make sure they have what you’re looking for.
“All artists are small businesses,” says Herbert Weiss, Pawtucket’s cultural and economic affairs officer. This simple notion is at the heart of not just the drive behind Lorraine Mills, but the historic mills standing tall all over the city.
Studios and the like are only half of what Lorraine Mills has to offer. While here, you can catch a show at Mixed Magic Theatre or Wage House and head to Crooked Current Brewery or White Dog Distillery for a drink. Its gallery utilizes the partnership with the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative to display the incredible work our local artists are capable of. Exhibits will vary in both artist and subject, guaranteeing a different and unique experience. Their lofts provide living spaces close to the action, with the views and an aesthetic that’s purely Pawtucket.
Through Lorraine Mills, artists are able to get to work, making their name known and building up what’s sure to be illustrious – and well-deserved – careers. There’s a wealth of varied talent on display in the City of Pawtucket. You just need to go outside and take a look.
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- Mayor Donald R. Grebien