Filed Under Preservation

Jeremiah Dexter: Preserving Rhode Island History

One famous feature of Providence is the great age of many of the houses. Walking around downtown Providence or the surrounding neighborhoods and towns, we commonly see houses and buildings that are over 100 years old. Well, the house built by Jeremiah Dexter is more than double that age. Built in 1754, this house has stood for nearly 250 years.

The Dexter House is located on what is today the corner of Rochambeau Avenue and North Main Street. The person that gave the house its name, Jeremiah Dexter, was born in 1731. With a much more modest and uneventful life than some of the more famous people on this tour, it seems that his greatest accomplishments were building this farmhouse and supporting his nine children together with his wife, Prudence Kimball.

As one would guess, this is a house with a lot of history. Most significantly, during the revolution, after helping Washington to defeat the British at the Battle of Yorktown, French General Rochambeau and his troops camped on the farm for three weeks while awaiting transportation back to France. The property remained in the hands of eight subsequent generations of Dexter’s, until it was given in 1977 to Preserve RI. The house is now used as the headquarters and offices of Preserve RI, which engages in historical preservation efforts throughout the state.

Images

HABS Document Jeremiah Dexter House The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) began during the Great Depression as means of employing out-of-work architects. These workers spent ten weeks documenting "America's antique buildings" throughout the United States. The Jeremiah Dexter House was obviously included on this list as one of the oldest standing homes in the state. Source: Library of Congress: HABS RI,4-PROV,19--1 Creator: George F.A. Palmer Historic American Buildings Survey, Date: 1937
Jeremiah Dexter House This is how the house now looks today. Source: Preserve RI
Jeremiah Dexter Gravestone Source: Photo taken by contributor. Date: 2018

Location

5 Branch Avenue, Providence, RI 02906 | Access the grave via North Burial Ground's south gate/main entrance at North Main Street and Branch Avenue during normal business hours, or by the pedestrian gate on North Main Street and Rochambeau Avenue.

Metadata

Tomaz Anaia, Rhode Island College, “Jeremiah Dexter: Preserving Rhode Island History,” Rhode Tour, accessed September 29, 2022, https://rhodetour.org/items/show/286.