David Wilkinson (1771-1852), a blacksmith from Smithfield,
Rhode island moved to Pawtucket in the early 1780s. Wilkinson invented new
machines, including a steamboat which he demonstrated in Pawtucket in 1792 (15
years before Robert Fulton's steamboat), a screw-cutting lathe in 1794 that
became an industry standard, and by 1815, some of the first power looms.
Wilkinson built this rubblestone mill with his father between
1810-11. The building housed a machine shop, a spinning mill, and a blacksmith
shop. David Wilkinson worked with Samuel Slater and also produced equipment for
dozens of other new factories. Today, Wilkinson Mill houses a water-powered
machine shop and administrative offices.
In 1794, Wilkinson designed a screw-cutting lathe with a slide
rest on which he obtained a patent in 1798. David Wilkinson (1771-1852)
developed a screw-cutting lathe that may have been based on drawings by Leonardo
daVinci. Wilkinson eventually produced a large general purpose lathe in 1806
that became the foundation of the American machine tool industry.