By Dana Reilly
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – The National Park Service is adding the Heaton & Cowing Mill to the National Register of Historic Places, providing the first step towards reuse of the historic vacant building, the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission announced Monday.
Listing on the National Register results in special consideration during the planning of federally assisted projects and makes the property eligible for federal tax benefits for historic rehabilitation projects.
The Heaton & Cowing Mill, built in 1832, is one of the oldest surviving textile mills both in Rhode Island and across the U.S.
According to the R.I. Historical Society, the Mill is representative of the small-scale textile factories that harnessed the water power of the State’s small rivers and played an integral role in the early years of industrialization.
Now that Heaton & Cowing has been officially registered as a historic property, the owners are planning to rehabilitate the mill for housing.
Edward Sanderson, executive director of the RIHPHC, told Providence Business News that the project will be partly funded by federal tax credits administered by the preservation society.
According to Sanderson, the rehabilitation of historic buildings has been made more difficult in Rhode Island since 2008, when the General Assembly reduced the amount of state rehab tax credit available and increased program fees.
Heaton & Cowing Mill is moving ahead using funding from the federal tax credit, but Sanderson worries about the infrequency of projects like this.
“Rhode Island was the leader in this kind of tax credit program,” Sanderson said. “Other projects are undoubtedly being held up by the lack of a state historic preservation tax credit.”