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Main Street in 1896 (photo from Art Work of Rhode Island)

Growth of Main Street

The heart of Woonsocket has always been the line of commercial buildings along Main Street. In the early nineteenth century, the Woonsocket Falls Village occupied much of what is now downtown Woonsocket. Market Square was a dense warren of factories from the 1820's to the middle of the present century. Industrial buildings extended along the east side of Main Street as far as City Hall.

With improved transportation and continued industrial growth, the mill villages of Woonsocket merged into a single urban area in the late nineteenth century with Main Street at its core. While some mills remained, retail and office buildings dominated the area.

  • Mills - These mills continued in the Main Street area well into the twentieth century.
  • Banks - As industry grew in Woonsocket, so did the need for banks and other financial institutions to meed the needs of mill owners and workers.
  • Stores - Every trade was fully represented and Main Street was the retail center of the city.
  • Hotels - As Woonsocket grew in the nineteenth century, so did the need for hotels and inns.
  • Churches - The oldest churches in what is now the City of Woonsocket were Protestant congregations that were established in association with Woonsocket's early mill villages.

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