COVENTRY — Six students from Johnson and Wales University toured various historic spots in both Coventry and West Warwick Friday as they begin planning to help design a tourist walk in the towns.
The Western Rhode Island Civic Society contacted the 13 students from the engineering design major who are enrolled in the professional practice class at JWU.
They asked the students if they could assist the towns in developing the area in hopes of encouraging tourism, new development, new residents and small business.
It is the first step the society needs to take to secure federal preservation grant money to restore Lippitt Mill.
The students will be designing an online and PDF map of the Pawtuxet River Valley with historic sites and structures included. Professor Eric Army explained that at the end of February his students will turn in the data to the historic society.
While this is the second year a project like this has been done in the class, it’s the first time they have focused on mill restoration and historic preservation. Last year, he said the students did a feasibility study on the village of Chepachet in Glocester.
He explained that his class will be researching Anthony village, the Byron Read House and the Hope Mill.
He said the Lippitt Mill however, is what they are most interested in.
To inform the students of the various historic areas in Anthony, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department Guy Lefebvre spoke to them outside the Anthony Mill.
The vacant lot adjacent to the Family Dollar plaza in Anthony was the original site of the mill company store.
It was torn down, “But we feel it’s a connection with this lot and what’s happening across the street.”
“There’s also been talk about a statue of Nathanael Greene, which was once located on the village green,” he said. “We are looking at the vacant lot as a possibility but also other places we think will be appropriate.”
The Anthony Mill is being revitalized and turned into approximately 150 new apartments.
Lefebvre explained that also in connection with the mill is the boarding house, which dates back to the 1800s. He told the students that this house is part of a restoration project being funded by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
The house has been researched and the design is underway.
He informed the students about Nathanael Greene’s homestead and how Greene made cannons at his forge down on the Pawtuxet River bank.
Tying in the historic aspect of the village, he explained that the railroad was of great importance during the industrial revolution.
He said the town acquired the land and turned them into bike paths for the enjoyment of its residents.
The students were also bused to the Lippitt Mill in West Warwick to get a tour of the historic 1809 mill.
Army and his six students were given a map of the mill with information on what each floor held.
They walked the three floors taking measurements of the ceiling, beams, window panes, doors and room length.
Students also snapped pictures of various sides of each room so a 3D model could be pieced together.
With the information collected, the students will be able to draft plans for even level of the mill, develop and sketch a museum proposal, sketch and color housing proposals, create a database of the square footage, research apartment and retail leasing rates per square foot and develop a slide presentation which can be shown to the Town Council and historic society.