"On the great falls of Patapsco River" A Case Study of Industry and Urbanism in Late-Colonial and Early-Republican Maryland

Sharp, Henry Kerr, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Bluestone, Daniel, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Nelson, Louis, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

Most architectural historians who have addressed the inception and development of the Industrial Revolution in America trace its beginnings to a cottonthread mill put into operation in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, by Samuel Slater in 1793. Two presuppositions underlie this narrative: that the late-eighteenth and earlynineteenth-century New England textile industry set the standard for factory buildings and towns in America, and that the New England experience, in the same manner, epitomized the processes of industrialization elsewhere in the country. This dissertation presumes to modify that classic narrative by presenting a case study of the experience of industrialization and town development in the eighteenthand early-nineteenth-century mid-Atlantic. The architectural and documentary history of Maryland's Patapsco River valley communicates that the earliest industrial activity in the colonial Chesapeake, ironworking, introduced no significant modifications to the dispersed, rural culture established by tobacco planting. Instead, wheat cultivation and the large-scale production and international marketing of flour wrought a regional agricultural and architectural transformation, and fostered the change in mentality that produced America's first factories and factory towns. The Quaker Ellicott brothers, who established such a flour-milling industrial village on the Patapsco outside of Baltimore, beginning in 1771, brought this regional transformation to maturity, and developed the linkages between producers, support services, and shippers that provided a tremendous impetus for urban development. Furthermore, the urbanizing incentives inherent in their own project led to further industrial development at Ellicotts' Mills, and ultimately produced a series of linked iii factory villages that together constituted a viable and expansive industrial town. The Maryland narrative indicates that American industrialization began earlier and with a greater variety of forms and processes than the classic story of New England textiles has heretofore acknowledged, and that scholarly attention to the larger context of development – instead of centering on the factory form in isolation, or on the New England region -- offers a more complete understanding of the architecture of American industrialization.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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