Prominent textile manufacturer Henry Lippitt, his wife and six children lived in this opulent Italian Renaissance Revival house, a testament to the burgeoning wealth of industrial Providence. Lippitt’s business ventures and investments proved so successful that he could afford to begin construction on the house in 1863, at height of the Civil War.
Henry Lippitt’s proclivity for the intricate processes of textile manufacturing lent itself to other areas, as well. He designed innovative systems for heating and plumbing for his new home on Hope Street that had never been used before in non-commercial buildings. Perhaps concerned that his heating system would not function as well as he imagined, Lippitt included a financial penalty in his contract with the construction company in case the heating did not work when the family took up residence in the winter of 1865.
Henry Lippitt was not the only innovator in the Lippitt family. His wife, Mary Ann (Balch) Lippitt, promoted the oralism (lip-reading) method in the education of deaf children. The Lippitt’s daughter, Jeanie, had lost her hearing at the age of four due to a bout with scarlet fever. Mary Ann Lippitt advocated high-quality education not only for Jeanie but for deaf children across the state: she founded the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, still in operation today.
The Lippitt House remained in the family for 114 years. Preserve Rhode Island now operates this National Historic Landmark as a museum.