Ferris Babcock Dove and Eleanor Dove

When Ferris Babcock Dove (1915-1983) and Eleanor Dove (1918-present) opened the Dovecrest Restaurant in 1963, it was the first Native American restaurant in New England. Perched on Summit Road, the restaurant gained national attention for their Indigenous cuisine, including johnnycakes, succotash, as well as more unique dishes like racoon pie, bear, moose, and venison stew. The restaurant remained a fixture in the community for 23 years. In 1969, Princess Red Wing and the Dove family moved the Tomaquag Museum beside the restaurant, to better share Narragansett culture with the restaurant's patronage.

Ferris, also known as Chief Roaring Bull, graduated from Westerly High School and Bacone College in Oklahoma, formerly known as Bacone Indian University. He was a member of the National Guard and a supervisor at Electric Boat. Ferris was also the first Native American postmaster, serving for many years at the Rockville post office and as the President of the Rhode Island branch of the Postmasters League. Ferris was also active in the town of Exeter, serving as the town moderator and tax assessor for a multitude of years.

Ferris was also very involved in Tribal affairs throughout his life. He was the last traditional war chief among the Narragansett Tribe, earning this title through physical and mental feats and performing good acts for the community. He held this role until his death. Ferris also played a critical role in his Tribe's fight for federal recognition, testifying before Congress during the federal recognition process in the 1970s. Ferris died shortly after recognition was granted in 1983. The Dovecrest Restaurant was sold in 1984 and closed its doors forever in 1986.

Eleanor (Spears) Dove, or Pretty Flower, was born in 1918, growing up in, what was then, rural East Providence. In her youth, Eleanor modeled, worked as a caterer, and in a family restaurant. She met Ferris at a dance in East Providence, where she told her cousin, "I'll take the tall one." In 1938 she and Ferris were married at the Narragansett Indian Church. They raised four children in Charlestown prior to purchasing their homestead in Exeter, which became Dovecrest.

Eleanor was an active member of the Narragansett in her own right. Along with being head chef and manager of the Dovecrest, for years she was involved in the Business Professional Women's Foundation, the March of Dimes, and the Narragansett Indian Church Board. Eleanor turned 100 years old on August 1, 2018. Her most important role is mother, grandmother, mentor, and role model to many throughout the Native and non-Native community, a testimony she shared at her 100th birthday celebration.

Although the Dovecrest closed over 30 years ago, the locale is still special to the Narragansett community. Next to the building, the Tomaquag Museum remains open and more active today than ever. The adjacent Nuweetooun School was opened in 2003, educating Narragansett and other children for seven years. The school was headed by Lorén Spears, Ferris and Eleanor's granddaughter, who has served as the Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum since 2003.

Images

Map

390 Summit Road, Exeter, RI 02822