Image courtesy of the Providence Public Library.
The William A. Harris Steam Engine Co. was located at the intersection of Park and Promenade Streets in Providence, RI near the original state prison. The area was renovated to make room for Interstate-95, so the factory site is under I-95 in front of the Providence Mall.
The William A. Harris Steam Engine Company was founded on August 1, 1864. The company was first located in an old building on Eddy street which was used during the ‘Dorr War’ as the headquarters of Thomas Wilson Dorr’s adherents. On November 17, 1868 the company relocated to a 150,000 sq. ft. facility at the corner of Park and Promenade streets, west of the Union railroad station. The facility included a machine shop, blacksmith shop, iron foundry, brass foundry, pattern shop and pattern storehouse. The number of employees varied between 200 to 400 depending on the amount of business. A large part of the machinery and tools at the William A. Harris Steam Engine Company were invented and made especially for manufacturing stationary engines varying from 20 to 2,000 horse-power. The establishment, when run on its full extent, was capable of turning out half a million dollars’ worth of merchandise annually, which is shipped to all parts of the United States, and to Cuba, Mexico and Spain. The company was bankrupt by 1915.
The engines were originally built using a license for the Corliss valve design. In 1870 the Corliss valve patent expired and the engines were built using Harris patented improvements. The term Harris-Corliss Engine came from a report in the New York Tribune that described one of the Harris engines at the American Institute in New York city.
Part of the buildings owned by The William A. Harris Steam Engine Company were occupied by the Granger Foundry and Machine Company.
President: Gardiner C. Sims
This image was scanned from a printing plate from the late 19th century. The artist was J. Bolan and the plate was made by the Photo-Electrotype Company, 63 Oliver Street, Boston.
A post card from April 4, 1878 confirming a visit to Lyon, Clement & Greenleaf Company of Wauseon, Ohio.
A post card from December 15, 1877 asking for a testimonial on a Harris engine.
The New England Wireless and Steam Museum has two operating William
A. Harris Steam Engine Co. Engines.
1. History of Providence County, Vol I & II, Ed. by Richard M. Bayles; W.W. Preston & Co., NY. 1891, p. 705-707
2. District Court, D. Rhode Island. June 25, 1915. No. 1450.