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Exhibit Brings Barrington's Industrial Past to Present

Town Museum operated by Barrington Preservation Society unveils history not well known by many people.

Museum director Carole Villucci and Edward Hail of Barrington. Credit: W.Rupp
Museum director Carole Villucci and Edward Hail of Barrington. Credit: W.Rupp

Many people don’t realize that Barrington has an industrial past, said Carole Villucci, director of the Town Museum operated by the Barrington Preservation Society in the lower level of the library. 

An exhibit that was a year in the making shows off that past, said Villucci. It opened on Dec. 1 and will continue for the next few months, if not longer.

“This has been a voyage of discovery,” said Villucci. “It tells the story of early Barrington and the people that changed the face of the town.”

The exhibit includes artifacts, photographs and other historical pieces – many culled from the museum’s own collection, she said. Among the more interesting artifacts is a 600-pound “brickbat” that had to be carted into the museum on a handcart. 

For those of you who don’t know what a brickbat is, it’s bricks that fell off the racks in the kiln at the former brickyard in Barrington. They were melded together during the brick-making process in the kiln. 

Among the industries that provided hundreds of jobs and income for hundreds of workers in Barrington were the Narragansett Steam Brick Company, which changed names twice, first to the Nayatt Brick Company and then to the New England Steam Brick Company. Then there was the Newth Rubber Company, which operated where the Barrington Shopping Center now sits, the O’Bannon Mill, now the Barrington Cove Apartments, and Rhode Island Lace Works, now the site of Atria Bay Spring Village.

The brick company operated from 1861 to 1940, the cotton mill operated from 1900 to 1951 and the lace works operated from 1903 to 1990. 

See the photos to give you some idea of what’s included in the exhibit. Then stop by the museum yourself. Hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. 

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