What So Proudly We Hailed
The War of 1812 on Great Road
On Saturday, September 29 from 10 to 4., seven sites along Lincoln’s historic Great Road will host special tours, exhibits, and presentations with a War of 1812 focus; all sites are open free to the public. Take tours, explore the area, and discover the impact that the War of 1812 had on Great Road and how our local sites and citizens contributed to the war.
Organizations participating in the event include: Blackstone Valley Historical Society; Historic New England’s 1693 Arnold House; c. 1835 Captain Wilbur Kelly House; 1870 Hannaway Blacksmith Shop; 1810 Hearthside; 1703 Saylesville Meeting House; and 1694 Valentine Whitman Jr. House. Free shuttles will depart from Chase Farm Park parking lot, located at 669 Great Road, Lincoln, RI, on the half hour, starting at 10:00 a.m., and stopping at each of the seven sites. Patrons may disembark at each site or continue on the shuttle to the next site. The last shuttle will depart from Chase Farm Park parking lot at 3:00 p.m. Visitors may also choose to park at each site. *Some of the sites offer limited parking. Some of the sites are also participants in the Smithsonian’s Museum Day. Visit www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday for more information.
Special tours, exhibits, and presentations:
Historic New England’s Arnold House presents the exhibit, War of 1812: A Nation Forged by War. This exhibit, created by The National Museum of the United States Navy, tells the stories of heroic U.S. Navy crews in battles on oceans and Great Lakes, as well as the contributions of sailors in celebrated battles from Canada to Louisiana. Early nineteenth century additions and changes to Arnold House will be highlighted in guided tours. Built by Stephen Hopkins Smith between 1810-1814, the stately Hearthside House, now a museum, hosts an exhibit of the first major battle of the War of 1812 involving the U.S.S. Constitution and the British ship, the Guerriere. On exhibit is the Guerriere’s bell, taken as a war trophy, and later purchased by Smith to hang in his factory, The Butterfly Mill, across from Hearthside where it hung in the belfry for well over 100 years. A ropemaking demonstration will also take place on the grounds of Hearthside. Originally located at the 1812 Moffett Mill, the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop is now located at Chase Farm Park where modern day blacksmiths bring history to life with the traditional craft of hand forging hot iron into various implements. During 1812, the Shop would be called upon to support the war effort with the production of muskets and other necessary equipment. Learn about how the War of 1812 led to the formation of start-up mills, such as the Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Manufactory, at the Captain Wilbur Kelly House, Saylesville Meeting House. Enjoy food and music from the War of 1812 era at the Blackstone Valley Historical Society (North Gate c. 1807) and tour the historic Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery which is also located at the North Gate site. At Saylesville Meeting House, learn about the position of Quakers on the War and local and national Quaker life in the early 19th century. The meeting house will also host a book swap. The history of the Moshassuck River mills will be highlighted in tours of Valentine Whitman Jr. House.
Tours are offered until 4:00 p.m. at Arnold House, Captain Wilbur Kelly House, Hearthside, Saylesville Meeting House, North Gate Toll House (home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society) and Arnold Bakery, and Valentine Whitman Jr. House. Saylesville Meeting House hosts a book swap. Refreshments are available at the Blackstone Valley Historic Society (North Gate) and Arnold House. Thank you to sponsors: Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the merchants of the Lincoln Shopping Center, and the Town of Lincoln, RI.
All events are free to the public. For more information, please call 401-728-9696.
About the Great Road Historic District
Called “Great” because it was so much more substantial than other routes through the valley, Great Road was built in 1683 as the major thoroughfare on the west side of the Blackstone River. With historic houses, farms and mills, the Great Road Historic District in Lincoln, Rhode Island, retains much of the Blackstone River Valley’s early nineteenth century rural character.
Historic Site Details:
Arnold House (1693): In 1693, Eleazer Arnold, a major landowner, built his house along Great Road, one of the earliest roads in the colonies. Two stories high, with a pilastered chimney, the home so dominated the modest dwellings of nearby farmers that it earned the title “Eleazer’s Splendid Mansion.” With its massive chimney end wall, the house is a rare survivor of a once-common Rhode Island building type known as a stone-ender. The structure has sustained many alterations over the centuries. Visitors find evidence of seventeenth-century construction methods, eighteenth-century additions, nineteenth century graffiti, and the twentieth-century approach to preservation that restored the house to its present appearance. Arnold House is located at 487 Great Road. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, year round, guided tours are on the hour from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the last tour at 4:00 p.m.
North Gate (c. 1807), originally built as a tollgate residence, is now home to the Blackstone Valley Historical Society and located at 1873 Old Louisquisett Pike. On August 26, 1807, the newly chartered Louisquisset Turnpike Company voted to build a tool gate Keeper’s House, 20 feet by 26 feet, and two stories high at the turnpike’s northern gate. (The southern gate was on Charles Street in North Providence.) The small gable roofed building was completed in 1808, at a cost of $319.23. By 1851 it was advertised as the “Limerock Hotel” and was operated as a Tavern and Stagecoach stop. The building continued in use as a farmhouse, and eventually was bought in 1904 by the Limerock Grange, P. of H. # 22. The Limerock Grange made substantial additions to the building and installed a hand-painted stage curtain to its stage in 1925. North Gate has served as the headquarters of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society (BVHS) since 1971, and is the primary site of meetings, special events and community gatherings.
Captain Wilbur Kelly House (c. 1835) was built by the captain of the merchant ship, Ann and Hope. Around 1823 Kelly decided to come in from the sea and bought a closed mill on the river at old Ashton in Lincoln (today’s Quinnville). The mill estate also included four or five workers houses. His partners in the enterprise included the firm of Brown and Ives and Edward Carrington. The key to the success of the mill was the Blackstone Canal through his village. Eventually, Kelly became a real estate agent for Brown and Ives and took part in the founding of the Lonsdale Mills. The Kelly House is where all transportation stories come together.
The War of 1812 was a turning point for the mill and village on the Lincoln side of the Blackstone River and Canal at Ashton. Inspired by the example of Samuel Slater’s pioneering textile factory at Pawtucket Falls, local farmer, Simon Whipple, in 1809, organized a manufacturing partnership. After a couple of false starts a dam was built across the flow of the Blackstone, and seventeen women, eight children, and five men began to spin yarn and weave cloth. The mill was called the Smithfield Cotton and Woolen Manufactory. George Olney of Great Road, who was building the machine shop, known later as the Moffett Mill, was the manager for Whipple and partners. Smithfield Cotton and Woolen began operations in 1815, but by 1817 closed down due to the arrival in America of less expensive English cloth. precededprecededprecededprecededprecededprecededprecededprecededprecededprecededIt was the War of 1812 and the embargo that proceded it on imported goods that gave the start-up mills, like farmer Whipple’s, an advantage. With the end of the war, however, and the lifting of the embargo, cloth production in England that had been stacked up without a market arrived like a tidal wave to swamp fledgling industries like Smithfield Cotton and Woolen. What revived this village at “old Ashton” was the coming of the Blackstone Canal. The new transportation service and the enterprising management of Captain Wilbur Kelly of the sailing ship, “Ann and Hope,” gave life to all the factory villages from Providence to Worcester.
Hearthside (1810): At the heart of Great Road is Hearthside House, a well-recognized landmark at the intersection of Breakneck Hill Road. Built in 1810, Hearthside’s commanding presence with its striking stone facade, two and one half story portico, and the graceful curve of its ogee gable roofline, entices the passer-by with questions about the origins of this showplace. Legend has it that Stephen Hopkins Smith, a Quaker who lived on Great Road, won $40,000 in a lottery, and he used his winnings to build this grand house to persuade a young woman of Providence to marry him. Hearthside was a private residence until 1996 when the Town of Lincoln purchased it. It is now a ten-room house museum with an impressive collection of antiques and artifacts run by the Friends of Hearthside. Docents in period costume welcome visitors to step back in time as they experience what life was like for the families who called Hearthside their home during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Hearthside is located at 677 Great Road. Hannaway Blacksmith Shop (1870) is located next door at 669 Great Road.
Saylesville Meeting House (1703), located at 374 Great Road, is one of the oldest continuously-used Quaker meeting houses in New England and the first house of worship erected in Northern Rhode Island. The Meeting House hosts a book swap and a self-guided tour is available. There are no limits on the amount of books that may be taken or given.
Valentine Whitman Jr. House (1694), a classic stone-ender, is the site of the first town meeting in Smithfield. The Whitmans were some of the first settlers in Northern Rhode Island. The house is located at 1147 Great Road.