Sylvanus Brown lived in this cottage from 1784 to 1824. Brown's proven pattern-making and carpentry skills earned him a place at Samuel Slater's side. Brown had also built water-powered mills and visited European mill sites. Between 1789 and 1791, Brown helped Slater produce mechanized textile machinery.
The patternmaker played an important role in the process of making new machine parts. Sylvanus Brown, a skilled woodworker, made accurate, full-scale wooden models, or patterns, of machine parts for Slater's machinery.
This house, built in 1758, is a typical artisan's dwelling of the mid- to late 1700s. It is furnished based on Brown's 1825 probate inventory and contains a loom, spinning wheels, and other tools used to make cloth by hand. Brown's wife, Ruth, and other workers wove cloth by hand at home for their own use and factory sale until after the invention of the power loom in the early 1800s.
[Illustration captions, from left to right, read]
· In this 1940s painting The Carding Machine
by R.H. Ives Gammell, Samuel Slater displays the invention to entrepreneur Moses Brown. The carding machine, an early fiber processing mechanism, was perfected by Samuel Slater with assistance from Sylvanus Brown and other artisans. The frame, rollers and pulleys were built of wood, and patterns were used to create
other parts made of iron.
· Wooden patterns
· Brown's house once stood beside his carpenter's shop near present-day Interstate 95. When urban development threatened the house in the 1960s, a citizens group—the "Live Wires" of the Pawtucket-Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce—sold shares to save "Memory Cottage" from demolition. In 1962 the Sylvanus Brown house, weighing nearly 40 tons, was lifted from its foundation and transported by platform truck to this site.