Lafayette, found on either side of the Ten Rod Road, was easily the largest and most successful mill village in North Kingstown and was the center of the Rodman family textile empire that, at its peak, included the mills at Shady Lea, Silver Spring, Narragansett Mills, and a mill outside of nearby Wakefield.
Rodman purchased the site, another location with a long history of industry, in 1847 as a cotton mill, but quickly retooled to utilize wool. He expanded and built the large brick mill and associated structures in 1877. At its peak Rodman Manufacturing in Lafayette alone employed more than 500 people. The village included every amenity required at the time; two churches, two schoolhouses, a community meeting hall, a post office, a company store, various other stores and shops, large and small boarding houses, a park, and even a winter crypt were made available for the greater Rodman Manufacturing “family” across the years. The Rodmans themselves constructed four fine mill owner mansions within walking distance of the mill building.
Rodman Manufacturing closed in the late 1940’s after more than 100 years, largely due to the competition brought to bear by cheaper costs at southern manufacturing facilities and the onset of synthetic fabrics.