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19th Century Water Powered Factories

By the 1790s, the Industrial Revolution began to change the face of manufacturing in the United States. Large textile mills began to open in New England with open interior spaces. The direct drive water wheels were moved beneath the building, under which the water passed. For the first half of the 19th century, standard factory buildings featured stair towers, belfries, multiple stories, and a gravity system for the passage of materials through the building. The monitor roof or clere story, a long, narrow row of windows set into a gable, was introduced during the early 19th century to allow more light into the upper stories. At this time, gable roofs were still predominant, although flat roofs also appear, and small, multi-paned windows were still set into the façades. The use of slow-burning construction often included brick or stone construction, although a number of factories still used wood clapboards. These factories began spreading further into the countryside, and often they were organized around a courtyard.

Notice the prominent towers and belfries on many of the images below. The factory in the images directly below have small clere stories along their roofs. Most of the factories have gable roofs, all have very small multi-paned windows. Although larger than the small, early mills of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the buildings are not yet as sprawling as later factories.

Water Powered Factories Water Powered Factories

Water Powered Factories: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont Historical Society. Image courtesy of Gregory Tisher

Water Powered Factories Water Powered Factories

Water Powered Factories: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Jericho Historical Society

Water Powered Factories Water Powered Factores

Water Powered Factories: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the University of Vermont Special Collections. Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont Historical Society.

Notice in the image below how the water flows directly beneath the building.

Old Water Powered Factory

Old Water Powered Factory: Image courtesy of Gregory Tisher

Factories Along the River

Factories Along the River: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program and the Vermont Historical Society

Notice how the factories in the image below are organized around what is probably a courtyard, and they form a relationship with one another.

Water Powered Factories

Water Powered Factories: Image courtesy of the University of Vermont Landscape Change Program

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