David Wilkinson (1771-1852), a blacksmith from Smithfield, Rhode Island, moved to Pawtucket in the early 1780s. Wilkinson invented new machines, including a steamboat, which he demonstrated in Pawtucket in 1792 (15 years before Robert Fulton's steamboat), a screw-cutting lathe in 1794 that became an industry standard, and by 1815, some of the first power looms.
Wilkinson built this rubblestone mill with his father between 1810-11. The building housed a machine shop, a spinning mill, and a blacksmith shop. David Wilkinson worked with Samuel Slater and also produced equipment for dozens of other new factories. Today Wilkinson Mill houses a water-powered machine shop, a gallery, and administrative offices.
[Illustration captions, clockwise from top left, read]
· David Wilkinson (1771-1852)
· After 1810, stone mills replaced or joined wooden mills in the growing industrial landscape. In this 1880s photograph taken from the opposite riverbank, Wilkinson Mill and Slater Mill are surrounded by shops and factories
· Patent drawing (above) with top, side, and front views of Wilkinson's screw-cutting lathe—perhaps his most important invention. The lathe cut screw threads evenly onto black stock by following a reference guide. This revolutionary process created precision parts and helped standardize machine
building and repair, opening the door to a new level of technology.