Cadman-White-Handy House

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

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…

Alexander Crummell

“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…

Brown and Sharpe

This 25-acre parcel and 12-building campus along the Woonasquatucket River was once home to one of Providence’s premier companies, Brown and Sharpe. In 1833 David Brown and his son opened a shop in Providence for the making and repair of watches…

Donigian Park and a Legacy of Pollution

In 2009, a group of volunteers stepped into the Woonasquatucket River at Donigian Park wearing waist-high heavy rubber boots and sturdy gloves to protect against the river’s pollution. Donigian Park in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence had…

Shepard Company Building

Few places in downtown evoke such fond memories like the iconic Shepard Company Department Store, a fixture of the 19th and 20th-century Providence shopping experience. Built in the 1870s, Shepard’s initially was 6,400 square feet. By 1903, it grew…

The Providence Athenaeum

In the mood for a seance? If you were a member of the cultural elite in 19th-century Providence, all signs would have pointed to yes. East Side artists and intellectuals attended seances held in private homes, which also played host to literary…

West Broadway Neighborhood Association

Repurposing older structures is a tenet of historic preservation. Here the West Broadway Neighborhood Association practices what it preaches. Since 1983, the WBNA has been one of the strongest and most active neighborhood associations in the city.…

Vernal Pool at Pardon Gray Preserve

Vernal pools are temporary wetlands that annually fill with water in the winter and early spring and then become dry when the weather turns warmer, although some pools may not completely evaporate in a wet summer. When pools periodically dry,…

The Old Burial Ground on the Commons

In the Old Burial Ground is an odd grave maker. It reads, “In memory of Elizabeth, who Should have been the Wife of Mr. Simeon Palmer… died Augst 14th 1776 in the 64th year of her age.” A clue to the meaning of this inscription may lie in a 1901…

Adamsville Hill: A Rum Runner's Hideout

“Young man, if you don’t get out you’re going to end up with a little round hole in the middle of your forehead.” The words were polite and calm, but ominous, spoken to a youthful group of summer people during a late night visit to Briggs Beach…

El primer sitio de la bodega Fefa’s Market

Si tuviéramos que buscar a una candidata que represente a los Dominicanos de Rhode Island, tendría que ser Josefina Rosario. “Doña Fefa” es querida, respetada y honrada como “La Madre de la Comunidad Dominicana.”  Los Dominicanos son ahora el grupo…

Antillas Restaurant

Broad Street today is full of ethnic restaurants, but in the late 1970s Latinos anxious for a taste of home had very limited choices; Doña Fefa sold a few prepared foods in her store, but otherwise families had to cook their own. Roberto and José…

The Old Stone Bridge

A tall man in a long, dark coat and a broad-brimmed hat walked the 2,000 feet across Stone Bridge from the Portsmouth shore to the Tiverton side, where a toll keeper waited to collect his fare. The man passed the money to the keeper, William…

The Battle of Rhode Island

During August 1778, Tiverton was the fulcrum on which the American Revolution teetered. From all over New England militiamen marched along dusty roads to rendezvous at the fort on Tiverton Heights. From Gloucester, Newburyport, and Marblehead came…

Alfred Beniot's House (Demolished)

Alfred Beniot was one of many youths who spent their childhood laboring in the brutal, unforgiving mills of New Bedford. Born September 3, 1900, Alfred began working in 1912 as a floor sweeper but became skilled at repairing the looms that sustained…

Wamsutta Mills

The building was five stories tall, of rough-hewn local granite, and about as long as the distance between streets in the older whaling center of town. A steam engine designed and built by Providence’s George H. Corliss powered ten thousand spindles,…

Del's

“Stop at the sign of the lemon!” declares the Del’s soft frozen lemonade slogan. The Del’s symbol, a frost-covered lemon, can be seen everywhere during summer in the Ocean State. Made from crushed ice, lemons, and sugar, Del’s sells their signature…

The Home of Sissieretta Jones

If anyone deserves a blockbuster biopic on this tour, it is Sissieretta Jones. Jones, a soprano, studied voice at the Providence Academy of Music, the New England Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory and in 1892 became the first African-American…

Butts Hill Fort, Portsmouth

Butts Hill Fort is the largest remaining Revolutionary War fortification in southeastern New England. In 1776, when the Americans built a small battery there, the area was also known as Windmill Hill after a succession of mills, beginning in 1668,…

The Celebrity Club: Best Jazz in Providence

On November 18, 1949, at 56 Randall Street, in the mostly poor, mostly black, Randall Square neighborhood, local African Americans crowded into the new Celebrity Club bar. It wasn’t quite finished, but the crowd didn’t pay much attention to the…

Bicycle Racing at the Pawtucket Cotton Centenary

Despite the rain, a troupe of bicyclists and mustached men costumed as knights, clowns, pages, and a prince paraded through the streets of Pawtucket. Thousands of people from Rhode Island and the adjoining states thronged the streets. For a week, all…

Spiritual Cleansing: Religion at Mashapaug Pond

In the summers, Providence residents waded into Mashapaug Pond to get clean – or, more precisely, for spiritual cleansing. "The choir would sing and the Word was preached before the candidate entered the water to have his sins washed away," recalled…