Off Conanicut Island's eastern shore lies Gould Island, the third of the major islands that comprise the town of Jamestown. It was named for Thomas Gould, who purchased the island in 1657 to use as farmland. In 1858, the Maitland family bought the…

Dutch Island, in the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, is an uninhabited, irresistible place that for decades has lured local kids across the water to camp or climb around the remains of what was once an impressive, self-sufficient, military…

Few Rhode Islanders remember the German Prisoner of War (POW) camps in RI. Fewer people realize that as they drive into Fort Getty, the stone gate posts were built by the German POWs encamped there in 1945. Ellen Brownell, a local Jamestown resident…

On August 28, 1863, the 1st battalion of the 14th R.I. Heavy Artillery (Colored) under Colonel Nelson Viall paraded through Providence on their way to an island in Narragansett Bay. Jamestowners felt the effects of the Civil War, even though…

The Handy House is not the home of a famous person—Washington did not sleep here! Yet the story of the people who lived here provides an extraordinary window into a world of ordinary lives that is otherwise lost to history. As you walk through this…

The Bell School was built in 1841 as a school for District No. 14, on the west side of the river. There was evidently some jealousy aroused in the other school districts when the residents of the Head of Westport decided to build so magnificent a…

Founded in 2002 on the former site of Providence Steel and Iron Company (PS&I), the Steel Yard’s 3.5-acre site has become a community gathering space for people interested in creative, industrial arts. The design of this former brownfield site…

As part of a nationwide “City Beautiful” movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Providence’s civic leaders envisioned the creation of numerous parks through the city as a means to provide refuge and beauty for its…

Thomas Davis, the namesake of Davis Park, was born in Ireland in 1806, and came to the United States in 1817. Unlike most of the Irish immigrants who would come to Providence, Davis was not Catholic, but instead a member of the Westminster Unitarian…

Charles Dowler was born in Birmingham, England in 1841, and came to America in 1863 to make munitions for the Union effort during the Civil War. After the war ended, Dowler embraced the “American Dream,” deciding to abandon his profession as a…

Between 1860 and 1880, Providence’s population doubled in size. With this flood of newcomers seeking employment in rapidly expanding industrial and manufacturing sectors came the high demand for housing. Areas to the the west and northwest of the…

An increasing Irish-Catholic immigrant population occupying Providence in the 1840s necessitated the need of both a parish and school. Saint Patrick’s Church was established in 1841 and, within two years, the school followed. Opened on November 1,…

When Alfred Augustus Reed of Providence formed the Oriental Mills Manufacturing Company for the production of cotton sheet goods, he and his associates also formed the Oriental Print Works, located in Warwick, RI.  Although the printworks failed…

In 1847, the Eighth Baptist Church of Providence was founded at the corner of Davis and Common Streets. It was one of many Baptist churches in the city to be founded by former members of the First Baptist Church in America, located on the East Side,…

The urban landscape of southern New England displays an iconic form of domestic architecture seldom found elsewhere: stacked three-unit apartment house commonly called a “triple decker.” Thousands of such structures were built between 1880 and…

The Smith Hill Library was built in 1932 as part of a Providence Public Library campaign beginning in the mid-1920s to create branch libraries throughout the city. Designer Albert Harkness was a renowned Providence architect of the time who also did…

According to local legend, in 1776 militia from the Head of Westport broke ranks with the remainder of their contingent to eat bread and cheese and to drink from the brook. The brook could also have been named after simple meals eaten on its banks by…

The water near the landing is part of an estuary, which means that salt water moving in from Buzzard’s Bay meets fresh water washing down the river. It’s a unique and beautiful natural space. At the time of King Philip’s War, in the late 1670s,…

When Cuffe–a man of color, born to a Wampanoag woman and a freed slave–and his crew–all Black or Native men–disembarked, they were met with “astonishment and alarm” by the townsfolk. Locals ran to the docks and urged the Customs officials…

An ongoing four-year project of the Westport River Watershed Alliance (WRWA) is an initiative to reverse the nitrification of Cockeast Pond by planting half a million oysters in a fraction of the pond’s area. Residents of Westport have long been…

Around Elizabeth’s home at Westport Harbor, just down the shore from the lifesaving station, the winds were high and people were preparing for a storm, but most were not too worried. However, by late afternoon the storm surge was reaching dangerous…

While the Dorr Rebellion is of course centered in Rhode Island, the conflict became national news, and leaders across the country took sides. One such leader, Connecticut Governor Chauncey Cleveland, a Democrat, was a known supporter of Thomas Wilson…

While Samuel Ward King, as Rhode Island’s other governor, was Dorr’s most obvious rival, his opponents were many. One of these opponents, John Brown Francis, had himself served as governor of Rhode Island a decade before King and Dorr. Francis,…

“While there is life, let us act. Let not the damning sin of his murder rest upon us . . . Rhode Islanders, Americans! Have you thought of this? Are you prepared for this? Will you permit this?” This rallying cry graced the windows of a bookstore…

“We claim . . . that to deprive the colored people of this State of the immunities of citizenship, on account of the color of the skin, (a matter over which they have no control), is anti-republican; and against such a procedure we enter our solemn…

A strange-smelling package arrived at the residence where Thomas Wilson Dorr was staying during his exile in 1842. He opened the box to find the following: “one prime codfish weighing 15 lbs., 2 mackerell [sic], 1 peck of clams, and a few…

“The public mind was awake” in Rhode Island, wrote Frederick Douglass (1817?-1895), “and one class of its people at least was ready to work with us to the extent of seeking to defeat the proposed constitution,” which would disenfranchise…

“Infantry! To the Rescue!” shouted a lieutenant as the militia prepared to overtake the rebels at a tavern in Chepachet, wrote William M. Rodman in 1842. Rodman (1814-1868), a merchant tailor with a shop on Westminster Street, served as Master…