The past, present and future of Paul Revere's Legacy to America

In 1801 at the age of 65, Paul Revere in a typical entrepreneurial spirit began to look for a suitable site to begin a small copper rolling mill. Revere was convinced that the fledgling nation needed to have access to industrial strength and technology that would grow our military and corporate presence in the world.

During the American Revolution, Revere had consulted closely with the military leaders and had advised them as to the means and methods of producing gunpowder. In Canton, just 14 miles from Boston was a small powder mill that Revere was undoubtedly familiar with. Many years would pass, but Revere recalled the superb water power of the Neponset River and chose the former powder mill as a site for a copper rolling mill.

On this historic site was a wood frame house built in 1717 for "an honest miller", the townspeople seeking a person of impeccable character to mill their corn. Almost 85 years later, this simple house was the house that Revere would call "Canton Dale". Placing his entire fortune on the line, Revere borrowed money by signing a note with the U.S. Government. If he failed, the entire fortune of his life of work would be lost.

By the time Paul Revere had become familiar with this place it would be 1776 during the American Revolution. Revere was acquainted with Major Crane who had been powder-master during the Revolution, and Paul Revere had purchased powder from Crane while he was in command of Castle Island in Boston. In fact, Crane shows up on Paul Revere's books as a Superintendent of Revere's copperworks. (Peter Crane, Margaret Fuller's grandfather also had business arrangements with Paul Revere). During the first three years of the Revolution no other mill provided more powder to the provincial army. It was Crane's Powder Mill that provided ammunition that for the schooner "Langdon", the frigate "Boston" and in 1777, to "the Castle" into the hands of Paul Revere. The mill was blown to atoms on October 30, 1779 and Benjamin Pettingill died as a result of severe burns.And so on March 14th, 1801, Colonel Paul Revere purchased the land, this house, a trip-hammer shop or slitting mill, and the "cole" house starting the first industrial copper rolling mill in America. The price was $6000.00 and Revere immediately sent to Maidstone, England for his rolls that would be of such perfection that his mill would be the finest for years to come. Risking his personal fortune of $25,000 with a personal loan of $10,000 from the U.S. Government Revere sought contracts that would assure him success.

In England, Revere found the rollers that would be used in the most famous mill in the newly minted United States.

Today, what remains of the historic mill is two buildings constructed for the Revere & Sons Copper Company. Also, beneath the site, undisturbed, is the historical archeology of the original Revere House. The buildings are threatened with demolition at the hands of Napleton Acquisitions, a Chicago-based land speculation company managed by Brian Napleton. Plans to build "Revere Commons " - 650 luxury condominiums and 20,000 sf of retail space on the site would threatened to destroy the final remnants of this historic mill. Prior to construction, the Town of Canton failed in May, 2008 to vote to re-zone the parcel for residential use. In the face of a loss at Town Meeting, an industrial subdivision plan has been filed that creates a road through the Rolling Mill site - for no reason other than expediency.

On May 19th, 2008 the developer has filed demolition requests with the Town of Canton to destroy the final two buildings on the property. And now, the developer is planning an Industrial Subdivision that will wipe out the two historic Revere Buildings.

The Napleton Company showed that it could save the buildings as part of a Mitigation Offer, which has yet to have a signed Memorandum of Agreement or a Covenant attached to it - this is as a result of the Town of Canton's Annual Town Meeting failing to rezone the property to meet the economic needs of the developer.

The future remains uncertain.

Chronology of the site

1717 -1775 - Colonial water powered grist mill & miller's residence

1775 - 1800 - Powder Mill (destroyed in 1779)

1801 - 1828 - Paul Revere's manufactury

1828 -1900 - Revere & Sons Company (brass & copper)

1900 - 1911 - Taunton New Bedford Copper Company (largely idle between 1900 - 1909)

1911 - 1922 - Plymouth Rubber Company (fabrics, heels & shoe soles)

1922 - 2006 Plymouth Rubber Company (rubber & vinyl - electrical tape, roofing membranes & coated fabrics)

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