The Blackstone Valley Visitor Center in Pawtucket for 25 Years.


For 25 years the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center in Pawtucket has welcomed travelers to Rhode Island. The Visitor Center opened in September of 1999 to great fanfare and at a cost of about $500,000. It came about with the City of Pawtucket taking the first step in 1997 by opening a demonstrative Visitor Center at the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Ave. In 1999, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor, The Old Slater Mill Association and the City of Pawtucket worked together to construct and open a 12,000 square foot, first floor Visitor Center, with a 90-seat theater, in a building vacated by the Peerless Department Store. It was one of four Visitor Centers constructed along the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The city's redevelopment agency purchased the building for the Visitor Center’s use and for the city's Department of Planning. Through the years the building housed Salve Regina University and the Department of Labor and Training. It has since been sold to Pet Food Experts.


In the first ten years the Center welcomed 80,000 to 100,000 visitors a year to Pawtucket. These days, with mobile phones offering detailed information and mapping, the Visitor Center welcomes about 1,000 to 1,500 people each month. Nonetheless, the visitors welcomed are interested in Pawtucket, the Blackstone Valley and Rhode Island, and each one has an economic value. Today the Center is home to the Old Slater Mill Association and its industrial archives, The Ocean State Center for Independent Living, a television production studio, and the Rhode Island Football Club.


The Visitor Center continues today to host an indoor waiting area for RIPTA riders, a warming or cooling center when needed, and an early voting center for Pawtucket. It continues to tell the story of America's Industrial beginnings and welcomes people to our state. According to Robert Billington, President of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, "the effort to bring visitors to Blackstone Valley is more important today than ever. Having a knowledgeable staff and welcoming faces at our Visitor Center to assist people on their journey in Rhode Island, can make all the difference in our economy and our reputation". 


Contact: Robert Billington, 401-569-3244, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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