by Thomas D’Agostino
The town of Uxbridge was incorporated on June 27, 1727. It was primarily an agricultural community, but the bountiful waters of the Blackstone River proved too fruitful to waste. Large mills began to pop up along the river and before anyone knew, Uxbridge was a manufacturing hub between the cities of Providence, Rhode Island, and Worcester, Massachusetts.
One mill of significant importance was the Crown and Eagle. The first incarnation of the complex was the Clapp Mill at 84 East Hartford Avenue, built by Forbes and Benjamin Clapp in 1810. It was the first mill to make thread in Uxbridge. Robert Rogerson purchased the mill around 1823 and turned it into housing. He then built two new mills, The Crown in 1823-1825, and The Eagle in 1827 over the Mumford River, a tributary of the Blackstone River.
The new complex boasted housing, a store, a community building, and the two mills. One noted feature of the mills was the clerestory monitor roofs that were the first of their kind in Massachusetts. Such a roof admitted light into the central part of the building for better working conditions. The Whitin family of nearby Northbridge purchased the mill in 1841 and renamed it, “The Uxbridge Cotton Mill.” The factory stayed in business until the early 1920s when it finally closed its doors.
Through the years the neighbors of the abandoned building were witness to strange ghostly phenomena such as ethereal faces peering out the windows of the factory. The opaque faces would linger for a few moments before vanishing like wisps of smoke. Those who lived in the area shied clear of the decaying building due to the uneasy feeling the structure gave when near it. Reports of ghosts in early twentieth century work attire emanating from the walls of the mill became a common occurrence. Old timers whose fathers worked the looms and spindles will tell anyone that the ghosts of the mill never left, even after the doors were boarded up for the last time. Most of them were housed in the building provided for them by the mill owners so it would seem likely that they would linger, as the mill complex was the only existence they knew.
The mill burned down in 1975 but the ghostly tenants still kept their vigil within the crumbled walls of the burned out factory. Many local residents attest to seeing these ghosts wandering about the ruins of the factory. The ghosts are a startling sight indeed but the strangest phenomenon is the factory itself. Neighbors reported seeing the remains of the structure as it looked before the fire claimed its walls. They would quickly look away and when they looked back at the mill, to their horror, they saw the burned shell of what was once the factory.
Some have seen the mill on fire and could see the face of a child in one of the windows. When they enter the old mill remains, they found it not only empty, but once again silent and gutted by a long quenched conflagration. The accounts of the ghost mill are numerous and varied. Whether they are all true or not is now a matter of conjecture. The mill was rebuilt in the early 1990s by investors into an elderly housing project. The original remains of the mill can be easily recognized in contrast to the more modern wall structure that was erected on top of the stonework that was once the great and haunted Crown and Eagle mills. The residents have nothing dramatic to report since the rebirth of the building. Perhaps the ghosts of the Crown and Eagle have joined the retired residents, leaving their eternal shift to enjoy their retirement.