A Virtual Barrio Tour |

Latinx Places That Matter | Blackstone Valley, RI

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This photo shows some updates to the side entrance, facing Cross Street in Central Falls, RI. Lyon Silk Works, Inc. was a working mill and still employed descendents of the original Colombian workers until it closed in 2020.

- Photo by Marta V. Martínez (2020)

Lyon Silk Works, Inc. | 469 Roosevelt Avenue | Central Falls, RI 02863

This 1-story red brick mill was originally The Royal Weaving Company in 1887. In 1925, Joseph Guittari purchased the mill and it became Lyon Silworks, Inc. a family-owned business that continued the silk weaving tradition. In March of 1965, Joseph "Jay" Guittari, Jr. brought three Colombian men to work in his father's mill. According to Giuttari, the idea quickly caught on and many other mills in Central Falls and the Blackstone Valley began to recruit Colombian workers to fill the labor shortage in Rhode Island.

For Lyon Silkworks, having skilled workers from Colombia step in to do the necessary work to keep the machinery humming, kept the entire textile business in Rhode Island from fading away in the 1960s.

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12 Meeting Street Cumberland, RI became an important social location for Colombians in the early 1970s.

Casa Grande | 12 Meeting Street | Cumberland, RI 02860

By the early 70s the Colombian community had grown to an extent that many felt a need to organize. And so they began meeting in the basement of 12 Meeting Street, in what they began to refer to as Casa Grande.

Casa Grande became a place of Sunday gatherings which included food that reminded them of their native Colombia, music and special events, such as baptisms and birthday celebrations. The building soon became an important social site for recent Colombian immigrants and where they would have cultural events, like Carnaval.

In 1972, the
Colombian-American Cultural Association charter was signed during a meeting in this building.

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Funds for these projects made possible with partial support by:

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