The Home of Betsy Metcalfe (demolished)

Is it a stretch to see Benefit Street as a sweatshop for girls of the cultural elite? Probably; but it is interesting to note that in the years that Mary Balch’s School was teaching its young pupils the art of needlepoint, a young girl named Betsy Metcalf started Day’s Academy in Providence, teaching girls to braid straw hats that resembled the straw bonnets then in vogue in England from patterns she developed. When asked why she did not patent her technique, Metcalf replied that she did not want her name to be sent to Congress; her contemporary, Mary Kies, who lived in Connecticut, did not suffer this qualm and applied for and won a patent to protect her method of braiding straw into bonnets in 1809.


Photo: Straw hat

Photo: Straw hat

Photograph of a straw hat made by Betsy Metcalf View File Details Page

Portrait of Betsy Metcalf, 1851

Portrait of Betsy Metcalf, 1851

Portrait of Betsy Metcalf, 1851, RHiX3536 View File Details Page


VIDEO: Eylssa Tardif on Betsey Metcalf

Source: John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities | Creator: Dylan Cole-Kink View File Details Page

Street Address:

62 Benefit St
Providence, RI 02904 [map]

Cite this Page:

Elyssa Tardif, “The Home of Betsy Metcalfe (demolished),” Rhode Tour, accessed August 19, 2017,
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