Dickhaut Cottages

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…

Saint Patrick Academy

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,…

Admiral Packaging

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…

Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church

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,…

Triple Deckers on Oakland Avenue

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 1930,…

Smith Hill Library

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…

Brookside Conservation Area

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…

Adamsville Landing

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, the…

Paul Cuffe Memorial

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 not to give…

Cockeast Pond

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…

Lifesaving Station

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…

Female Supporters Express Their Gratitude

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…

John Brown Francis

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, like…

Abraham Herman Stillwell

“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…

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…

Ann Parlin

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 oysters.”…

Frederick Douglass

“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 Black men.…

William M. Rodman

“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 Clerk…

Catherine R. Williams

A crowd of 1,500 had gathered in Millville on a late fall day in 1842 to show their support for their exiled hero, Thomas Wilson Dorr. One of the most well-known women in the crowd was Catherine R. (Arnold) Williams (1790-1872), who, despite some…

Thomas Wilson Dorr

Thomas Wilson Dorr has been called an unlikely people’s hero in the Rebellion that bears his name. A well-educated lawyer, Dorr hailed from an upper-crust Rhode Island family. His father, Sullivan Dorr, amassed great wealth through his dealings in…

The Dorr Rebellion - Context

Rhode Islanders were pretty pleased with their royal charter in 1663, which granted them freedom from religious persecution. But even a beloved antique can lose its luster eventually, and so by the 19th century, when Rhode Island still operated under…

Rising Sun Mills

In 1764, Thomas Olney established one of the first mill privileges along the Woonasquatucket River. Through the rise and fall of industries and technologies, we now have the Rising Sun Mills . The complex is named for the paper mill Olney’s son built…

Providence Dyeing, Bleaching, and Calendering

The Woonasquatucket River, with its generous drops and fast moving streams, was lined with textile factories in the early 19th century. Once textiles were made, they required dyeing and bleaching to be transformed into usable fabrics. In turn, a…

Nicholson File

The modest sign remaining on Kinsley Avenue does not do justice to this former industrial behemoth. The contribution of machines, and the parts and tools needed to run them, can sometimes be lost on the consumer who purchases the end…

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…

US Rubber Company

The US Rubber Company Mill has a complex history of ownership and use that stretches over 80 years. From its inception as the Joseph Banigan Rubber Company (1896-1910), through its acquisition and expansion as a regional plant of the US Rubber…

American Locomotive Company / ALCO

Home to RI's economic development agency, Commerce RI, along with several other businesses, the ALCO complex once housed a major innovator in the history of transportation. The Rhode Island Locomotive Works constructed this building in 1865, just…

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…

Woonasquatucket Reservoir

The Woonasquatucket River (woon-AHS-kwa-tuk-it) has been at the center of Rhode Island’s uniquely layered history of invention, innovation and multiculturalism. The Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes who first settled the region called the river…