About West Exchange Center
The West Exchange Center originally began on the former site of A. Carpenter and Sons Foundry, which operated in the mid-to-late 1800s. In 1892, Providence Steam and Gas Pipe Company, owned by Fredrick Grinnell, merged with several automatic fire extinguisher manufacturers to form General Fire Extinguisher Company. Fredrick Grinnell, who was the creator of the automatic sprinkler, served as president of the company from its inception to his death in 1905.
General Fire Extinguisher’s original factory was located on the north side of West Exchange Street, currently Route 10. In 1901, plans for a new four story addition to the West Exchange Street plant were announced. In 1910, the south side property at 260 West Exchange Street was acquired by the company and became the site of its new four story production plant.
Over the years, General Fire Extinguisher acquired and built several surrounding properties creating a large industrial complex. In 1944, General Fire Extinguisher became Grinnell Corporation. At this time, Grinnell Corporation was the largest manufacturer of fire protection systems in the world.
In 1969, Grinnell Corporation merged with ITT, becoming ITT Grinnell Corporation, and in 1976 ITT Grinnell was purchased by Tyco International. The property was subsequently sold to developers in the mid 1980s, at which time the property began its conversion to office space.
Unfortunately, during the early 1990s the property fell victim to the Savings and Loans Crisis. After bank foreclosure and repossession, the property was sold to Robert Votolato of Flexible Leased Business Space who managed the property until its sale to Omni Combined W.E., LLC (an affiliate of The Omni Group) in April 2006.
Since taking ownership Omni has undertaken an extensive revitalization of the property and surrounding community. Over the course of the last 9 years, Omni has made numerous improvements to the grounds, buildings and overall neighborhood aesthetic, all while expanding the footprint of the complex through the acquisition of several surrounding properties. The result of these efforts has established the West Exchange Center as one of the Premier Office Complexes in Rhode Island.