The filmmaker’s new docuseries inspired by the legacy of the RI family

WARWICK, RI (WPRI) – Tucked away on a busy road in Warwick sits a mansion owned by a well-known Rhode Island family.

That family is the Slaters, and their home is now called the Clouds Hill Museum.

Anne Holst, museum curator and fourth-generation owner, tells 12 News that the house is steeped in history.

Holst should know because she is the last living relative of the Slaters.

“I am the only family member who has spent my whole life in this house,” she explained. “It was a summer house until 1940.”

The house, located off Post Road, was built 150 years ago as a wedding gift for Elizabeth, daughter of William S. Slater.

When asked if everything inside the house was authentic, Holst said everything was.

“[Everything] was inherited or purchased for the home,” she explained. “Some furniture was purchased by family members.”

The Slaters are best known for their contributions to founding a nearby village, which eventually became known as Slatersville.

It’s a story that caught the attention of filmmaker Christian de Rezendes, who is putting the finishing touches on a project that spanned 10 years.

“I am a lover of history and I wanted [make] something along the lines of a historical documentary,” he explained. “It just snowballed into a much bigger thing.”

de Rezendes decided to focus his project on the mark that the Slater family left in the textile industry.

The Slaters were also responsible for building a company store, a Congregational church, and a library in the village they founded.

It was a story that, according to de Rezendes, was, at first, difficult to tell.

“I had to learn it inside out,” de Rezendes said. “The stuff that had to do with the 20th century, I had to film all these people while they were still with us and get the whole look of it. Then you have the end of the Slaters in the 18th century, and you you have three generations of this, and it goes all the way back to England you find out who the key characters are, the struggles they went through…I’ve filmed about 140 people on camera and to my knowledge about 26 have died since .

“It’s very important to get their words, to get their tone, to get their voices and their faces,” he continued. “It’s more important to me than just handing me a historical document and someone saying to me, ‘Here, write a screenplay. “”

de Rezendes said an actor who voiced one of the film’s characters told him a saying that stuck with him throughout the storytelling process.

“He said, ‘Christian, nobody cares about nine months, they just want to see the baby,'” de Rezendes said. “It’s true. But the reality is that the only way to show you a baby was to walk you through the nine months and that’s a big lesson I learned.

The first episode of de Rezendes’ documentary series, aptly called “Slatersville: America’s First Mill Village,” airs Friday at 7 p.m. on PBS. The first season consists of 12 episodes which will be released weekly.

de Rezendes told 12 News he was already working on a second season, adding that just one just wasn’t enough to do justice to the Slaters legacy.

Comments are closed.