Filed Under Parks

Ebenezer Knight Dexter and The Dexter Training Ground

The West Side's Public Space

This nine-acre park was a gift from one of the greatest philanthropists in Providence’s history, a man whose charitable giving still has an impact on city life. Ebenezer Knight Dexter (1773-1824) descended from land-rich colonial Rhode Islanders. In addition to this park, dedicated in Dexter’s will to military purposes, a forty-acre tract on the East Side was donated for the support of the poor and indigent. This public space played an important role in the Dorr War and was a mustering and encampment site during the Civil War and World War I. The 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored), the first African-American company from Rhode Island to serve in the Civil War, was raised in Providence and bivouacked here. Historic reenactors can still be found leading an encampment now and then. The park on a summer day is as diverse as the neighborhood. Strollers walk the long sycamore allées and watch soccer or kickball games; children fill the playground. Dexter himself watches over it all, cast in bronze by Gorham Manufacturing in 1893.


Ebenezer Knight Dexter
Ebenezer Knight Dexter This is a portrait of Ebenezer Knight Dexter in the collection of the Rhode Island Historical Society. Unfortunate conservation has resulted in pigment discoloration.
Soldiers on Dexter Training Ground
Soldiers on Dexter Training Ground This photo shows soldiers encamped and drilling on the Dexter Training Ground during World War I, 1917.
Kites Galore on the Dexter Training Ground
Kites Galore on the Dexter Training Ground One of the more curious events to take place on the Dexter Training Ground, was a manned flight by kites, a demonstration of the developing reconnaissance technique.  Source: Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library Date: 1918


Parade St & Willow St, Providence, RI 02909


Taylor M. Polites, “Ebenezer Knight Dexter and The Dexter Training Ground,” Rhode Tour, accessed June 17, 2024,