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Stroll the highways and byways of Rhode Island and be astonished by the extraordinarily rich, compelling and groundbreaking contributions African Americans have made to the state’s landscape and cultural heritage. On foot or by car, or in the comfort or your own home, this guide will assist you in locating and exploring exciting sites, events and people. From slavery to abolition, reconstruction to the gilded age, from civil rights to present day, this is a story unlike any other in the country.                – Robb Dimmick

Research for and access to this guide was funded by:

Herman H. Rose Civic, Cultural and Media Access Fund

North     to     South

Historian Jay Coughtry, author of The Notorious Triangle, said that the Rhode Island slave trade is synonymous with the American slave trade. Our small state's official name, "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" stirs up its deeply rooted slave legacy. Despite "plantation" meaning an unusually large farm or settlement in a new country or region, its painful and relevant connotation as a pastoral prison for Rhode Island's enslaved people cannot be denied. In 2001, Reverend Virgil Wood, a Black pastor at Pond Street Baptist Church, waged a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to officially change the state's name to simply "Rhode Island." For Wood, "plantation" was more “Gone with the Wind” than "Mayflower Compact." In 2010, Rhode Islanders went to the polls and voted to keep the name. Its offense should serve to remind us, as I hope this guide will, of the extraordinary extent to which Rhode Island engaged in the slave trade, its long-held resistance to divest itself of it, and the unexpected, rich and remarkable stories and contributions these Children of Africa have bestowed upon us.
 

Key:

* denotes a property on the Underground Railroad

+ denotes a burial site

# denotes a house of worship

= denotes a Cape Verdean site

^ denotes a Black owned business

Burrillville

 

Burriville was named for James Burrill, a Rhode Island native. As a United States Senator, he spoke against slavery in Missouri when it became a state.

Woonsocket

 

Black population in 2016 2,621

Edward Harris, Woonsocket’s most prominent citizen in the mid-19th century, ran as an anti-slavery candidate for governor, and later became an avid supporter of Abraham Lincoln. Harris ran for Rhode Island governor in 1849, ‘50, ‘51 and ‘53 as an anti-slavery candidate, and went as far as providing funds to support John Brown’s family just prior to Brown’s execution.

Anti-Slavery Convention Site: 99 South Main Street. Held in the fall of 1841, Frederick Douglass was one of its major speakers. Visit:

http://rhodetour.org/items/show/228

Cato Hill Historic District: 2 & 1/2 blocks of Church and Cato Streets, Clarkin Lane and Boyden Street, located just above downtown. African American Lydia Brayton Willard (descended of Prince Aldrich, one of two slaves owned by Samuel Aldrich of Smithfield, RI, who purchased this land upon his freedom) inherited this property from Prince and named it for her late husband, Cato Willard. Before his death in 1834, Cato laid out Cato Street, and in 1846 Lydia platted new lots along Cato and Church streets. The neighborhood was added to the National Historic Register in 1976.

Woonsocket City Hall: 169 Main Street. Built by abolitionist Edward Harris, this site hosted Abraham Lincoln's unprecedented second visit to Rhode Island in March 1860. He spoke to a packed audience, defending his position that the nation could not endure half slave and half free. (See plaque located in entryway.)

Chan’s: 267 Main Street. Since 1905, this Chinese restaurant has featured some of the finest Black jazz and blues artists in the world.  

# St. James Church: 340 South Main Street. Founded in November 1953 at 517 River Street by Rev. J.W. Hinson to serve a growing Black population, the parish moved to his location in 1974.

Rev. John Boyden House c. 1845: 121 Blackstone Street. Boyden, 1809- 1869, first pastor of Woonsocket’s Universalist Church, was prominent anti-slavery advocate.

Cumberland

 

Abolitionist Elizabeth Buffum Chace moved to Valley Falls in 1839 when her husband, Samuel, took over management of the Valley Falls Mills on the Blackstone River. There in the Currier House (no longer standing) they established the main stop on the Underground Railroad in Rhode Island. 

North Smithfield

 

Arnold Buffum Homestead: 383 Great Road. Buffum was one of Rhode Island’s leading abolitionists. 

Westacres c. 1730. Lousiquisset Pike. This house was used as a tavern in the 18th century and later belonged to freed slaves Isaac and Prince Aldrich.

Smith-Curliss House: Built in the early 19th century and moved to this site in the latter part of the century, it was owned for about 100 years by the Curliss family, one of the few Black families in North Smithfield.

Banneker Industries: 582 Great Road. Named for the great Black mathematician, Benjamin Banneker, Cheryl Snead founded Banneker Industries, a world-class provider of supply chain solutions, specializing in third and fourth-party logistics services, in 1991. Learn more here: http://www.banneker.com/about-us/company-overview/

Sarah Muckamug: 956 Old Smithfield Road, Isaac Wilkinson home

c. 1829. Muckamug, a Nipmuc Indian, indentured to Col. Joseph Whipple, of Providence, for 12 years, had four children with Aaron Whipple, a Black slave of Whipple. Muckamug left Whipple after he refused to "maintain" their children together. She was allowed to build a wigwam on this property by the Wilkinsons. She later had another child with Fortune Burnee, a free Black man living in the community. Sarah’s life shows the complex role of marriage between First Peoples and individuals of African descent. Read: Daniel R. Mandell, “The Saga of Sarah Muckamugg, Indian and African American Intermarriage in Colonial New England,” in Martha Hodes, ed., Sex, Love, Race: Crossing Boundaries in North American History.

 

Smithfield

 

Elizabeth Buffum Chace was born on Dec. 9, 1806 in Smithfield to Arnold Buffum and Rebecca Gould Buffum, and became an ardent abolitionist, publishing at 85 her memoirs, Anti-Slavery Reminiscences. Read them here: 

https://archive.org/details/antislaveryremin00chac

Mountaindale, a machine shop, near the junction of Reaper’s Brook and Stillwater River, was built in 1826-27 by Waterman Smith and Thomas Harris. The factory made spindles, rolls, and shuttles. It changed hands several times and in the 1850s was converted to the manufacture of "negro cloth." (For more about "negro cloth" see Harris Mill under Exeter.)

 

Lincoln

Hearthside House: 677 Great Road. Beginning in 1904, Marie Jackson served here as the Talbot family cook; her husband Andrew was their butler. See a photo of Mrs. Jackson here: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-RZ4p_30KCNM/UHY1U1dP4wI/AAAAAAAAE7M/hk04EEbtt-Q/s1600/Off+to+Market_8x12_120ppi2.jpg

Foster 

 

In the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan was active in the area, and one of the largest Klan rallies in the state was held in Foster on the Old Home Day grounds in 1924, with 8,000 in attendance, and U.S. Senator J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama speaking.

Glocester

 

The 1774 census shows 19 Black people living among 3,000 Whites

Adam Brown, a Black farmer in the 1700s, owned 20 acres. 

Yockway Fenner of Glocester was a farmhand, yet was also a wanted man, having escaped his master during the War of Independence. (Citation: Joanne Pope Melish)

Acote's Hill aka Chepacet Cemetery: 1049 Putnam Pike, Chepachet. Named for an itinerant "half-breed" peddler known only as Acote who mysteriously died of a fatal wound and a fall downstairs in Kimball Hotel, Acote is buried in an unmarked grave on the west side of the hill. In June of 1842, the hill was the site of an "armed but bloodless" confrontation between Thomas Dorr's "People's Rights" faction and Samuel King's "Law & Order" party comprised of 3,500 men including 200 Black volunteers who marched on to attack the Dorrites entrenched there. 

Scituate

Sharper Gorton dug iron ore in Scituate, supplying Moses Brown’s furnace in order to forge cannons to break the bond of Britain’s possession. But Sharper was himself a possession of his master. (Citation: Joanne Pope Melish)

Watchman Industrial School and Camp, (Watchman Institute): 606 W. Greenville Road, North Scituate. Based on the educational theories of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute, the school for Black youth was founded in Providence in 1908 by Reverend William S. Holland. It moved to its present location in 1923 and closed in 1974. National Historic Register designation was assigned in 1978.

Johnston

 

Farmer Prime Brown joined the Black Regiment in 1777.

Ceasarville: George Waterman Road centering on Dexter Street. In the 19th century, this village of African Americans was anchored by two textile mills, and in the early 1900's a woman's hat factory. Today, all that remains are two gambrel-roofed mill houses on Dexter Street. It was most likely named for a prominent Black family that lived there between the Revolution and the Civil War. The Ceasarville name survives today only as Ceasarvillle Dam and Pond which lie to the west of George Waterman Road.

 

+ Daily-Ceasar Cemetery: Located alongside the driveway to 1010 Hartford Avenue, which connects to Borden Avenue. Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Johnston #44 reportedly holds African American and Native American decedents. Among them is Annjemima Daily, daughter of Roby Ceasar and wife of John Daily who passed away at age 17 in 1826. For a list of graves: http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/newlistgraves.aspx?ceme_no=JN044 

North Providence

 

Central Falls

 

Birthplace of Academy Award-Winner Viola Davis

* Elizabeth Buffum Chase Home: Hunt & Broad Streets. A leading abolitionist, Chace, called the "conscience of Rhode Island," moved to this home in 1858 and welcomed Black leaders Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Sojourner Truth, and others, using it as as a stop on the Underground Railroad. (See sculpture of her in the Rhode Island State House.)

Pawtucket

 

32 free Black people lived here in 1830

# Union Baptist Church: 50 Lupine Street. Founded 1893 in the Old Meeting House with Thomas Crocker its first pastor; it moved several times until it settled at its current location.

Pidge Tavern: Pawtucket Ave. Robert Adams conveyed fugitive slaves here. Read more at: 

https://rifootprints.com/2010/11/11/a-toll-a-tavern-and-a-farm/

East Providence

= Cape Verdean Museum: 1003 Waterman Avenue. The nation's only museum devoted to Cape Verdean history. 

http://www.capeverdeanmuseum.org/

= Cape Verdean Progressive Center: 329 Grosvenor Avenue. Founded in 1939 by a group of women as a social club, it's leadership was taken over by men who believed it was inappropriate for them to run their own club.

 

John Hunt House:  c. 1750, Hunt’s Mills Road. Primus, a woman and child were held in bondage here.

= Onna Moniz-John Neighborhood Park/Central Avenue Playground:

11 McCausland Avenue. Named for this Cape Verdean activist, educator and collector of Black memorabilia.

^ Bovi’s Tavern: 287 Taunton Avenue. An East Providence landmark, Bovi’s Tavern was one of Rhode Island’s premier jazz venues.

Newman Cemetery

Corner of Newman Street and Pawtucket Avenue, Rumford

 

+ Thomas Eli Hawkins Burial: "Born a slave in Kentucky. Died a Freedman in this town, July 27, 1863 in the 28th year of his Age. A faithful Serant of Lieut. George Bucklin. 12th Regt. R.I. Vols. Who erects this stone to his memory." See stone here: 

http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=96483

+ Anna Bowen Burial. "A Negro Servant to Col. Jabez Bowen. Aged about 80 years. Thou a good master I was a good slave, I now rest from labor & sleep in my grave" See stone here: 

http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=96124

Providence

East Side

Water Street to Benefit

Snowtown Riot 1831 - Marker: North end of Roger Williams National Memorial, 282 North Main Street. Inscription: "The site of the second major riot between Providence African American residents and white workers."

Hardscrabble Riot 1824 - Marker: Median strip between North Main Street and Charles StreetInscription: "The site of Addison Hollow where the first nineteenth century blacks purchased property and the site of the first major riot." White rioters caused the partial destruction of this community and brought about the institution of a police department.

Center for Reconciliation: St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, 275 North Main Street. The Center is a nonprofit organization based in dedicated to the work of racial justice and racial reconciliation. More at: http://cfrri.org/

First Baptist Church in America 1775: 75 North Main Street. In

1768 the  church began to record its Black members, including  Mary Almy, Phillis Anderson, Violet Brown Johnson, Mary Ann Brown (wife of Pero), Mrs. Betsey Brown, Hannah Hopkins Colen, Phillis Church, Eliza Jackson Green, Anstis Greene and many others. In 1819, Black members met with White leaders to plan an exodus from the church to build their own house of worship, the African Meeting House. See plaque to the left of the front entrance commemorating this event and the oil portrait of sexton and bell ringer, Noah C. Wesley (1855-1928), who held the position from 1882 to 1928, within. Tours available: 

https://www.firstbaptistchurchinamerica.org/tours-and-gift-shop/

For an extensive list of its Black members, read Stanley Lemon's Black in a White Church.

 

Market Square, 1774: Corner of North Main and College Streets. Site of the Militia Act of 1862 which permitted Blacks to participate in the Civil War. Multiple Black vendors had food carts or stalls within, including butcher Titus Guinea, grocer Simon Manuel, butcher George Thomas, refreshment stand vendor George M'Carty, food vendor Peter Waters, 

Stephen Hopkins House, 1707: 15 Hopkins Street. This signer of the Declaration of Independence wrote in this house "Rights of Colonies Examined," a 1764 treatise which declared "liberty is the greatest blessing that men enjoy, and slavery the heaviest curse that human nature is capable of," despite the fact that he held six slaves here: Fibbo, St. Jago, Prince, Toney, Adam and Primus. For tours visit: http://www.stephenhopkins.org/

Joseph Brown House c. 1828: 50 South Main Street. African American Noah Brown, father of memoirist William J. Brown (see below), lived here at the back of this house. The Browns ran their many businesses, including slaving, out of this building.

Slave Marker: Water Street, just south of Planet Street. Acknowledges Providence as a slave port in the 18th century, and as a port for Cape Verdeans arriving in the city in the early 20th century. (Note vandal's attempt to eradicate the reference to slavery.)

William J. Brown Birth Site (1814): Planet Street, midway between Benefit and South Main Streets on the south side, now a parking lot. For a stunning account of 19th century Black life on College Hill, read his Memoirs of William J. Brown, 1883.

Benefit Street

 

^Tourist Home: 12 Benefit Street. Listed in the 1947 Negro Motorist Green Book, it was operated by Walter W. Joyce, a Maryland native who had moved to Providence with his Virginia-born wife Emma by 1928. Joyce worked variously as a laborer, butler, and houseman, and in the 1942 city directory as a “helper.”

^ Marie Wells Beauty Shop: 18 Benefit Street. Listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book, the shop operated here as of 1947. The city directory that year gives the business name as the Marinello Beauty Shop, with Mary Ingham Young its proprietor. Young, a native of Bermuda, married Providence native Raymond Profitt Young in 1927. The shop remained in business until at least 1964. See photo: http://gowdey.ppsri.org/gowdey/Benefit%20Street/18%20Benefit%20St.%20Photo.JPG

43 Benefit Street: (1774) In 1915, Annie Moore, who worked as a hotel maid, rented part of this house along with her mother, Lucy Henry, and two male boarders. 

50 Benefit Street (ca. 1805) rented from about 1903 until about 1935 by teamster and driver Walter Williams. Williams was born in the District of Columbia and was living in Providence by 1885; he worked for several city caterers, including Henry W. Potter at 16 College Street in the first decade of the 1900s and the L. M. Carr Company at 107 Angell Street through at least the early 1940s

George Mitchell, an African American porter at the W. T. Grant Company and library janitor, occupied the property from the late 1940s through 1959.

Cooper/Cummings Residence: 52 Benefit Street. In 1905, the Samuel Staples Jr. House was being rented to six African Americans: Martha A. Cummings, a department store stock clerk; her adult sons George, also a store stock clerk and Frank, an ash team driver; a ten-year-old granddaughter, and two boarders. By 1917 African American carpenter James A. Cooper, born in North Carolina in 1858, rented the house; by 1920, the Cooper family owned the house. The Coopers remained at 24 Benefit through the late 1950s.

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet: 62 Benefit Street (Amos Allen House, 1773). The first Black female graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in 1918, Prophet (1890-1960) lived here in 1920 with her father and husband, Francis Ford, and later at 306 Benefit Street rear. Three of her sculptures are held in the RISD Museum (see below). Learn more here:

http://mappingartsproject.org/providence/artists/nancy-elizabeth-prophet/

Chace Sisters Headstone ca. 1801: St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery, 70 Benefit Street. “In Memory of three respectable Black Persons Phillis, Rose & Fanny Chace who served faithfully in the family of Samuel Chace Esq. The wise, the gay, the humble and the exalted, the beautiful and the deformed must all moulder in the same native clay.” (Phillis died some time between 1790-1793. Rose was buried Dec. 20, 1801) See stone here: 

http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=211320

Judge Staples House, 75 Benefit Street, ca. 1850. A small cemetery behind the house contains the graves of members of four Black families who lived in the house from the 1830s to the 1850s.

Charles Haskell (1760-1833): Seth Wheaton House, 1786. 81 Benefit Street. "Man of colour, a soldier of the Revolution," Haskell was a servant for Wheaton. Haskell is interred in North Burial Ground (see below) with his wife Lucy, his brother and parents. His funeral was covered in the Providence Journal. See house here: 

http://www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/ri/benefit/15.html

Charles Shaw House ca. 1850: 132 Benefit Street. In the 1920s, this house served as the headquarters of the Prince Hall Masons. One of the country's oldest Masonic lodges, the all-Black association was founded in 1797 by Prince Hall, a Black Bostonian who had fought in the Revolution. Finding that Blacks unwelcome in white lodges, Hall started a lodge in Boston that sparked brother lodges in Providence and Newport.

Old State House 1760-62: 150 Benefit Street. Here, at the time of the American Revolution in the late 1700s, there were intense debates between factions represented by Brown brothers John and Moses over the issue of slavery and a proposal by some slaveholders to free their slaves in order to let them serve as soldiers. Moses, being a Quaker, was as opposed to slavery as John was in favor of it. Housed within are archaeological artifacts from the Black neighborhood Snowtown held by the Rhode Island Historical  Preservation & Preservation Commission. Call to view: (401) 222-4140

Old Arsenal, Providence Marine Corps of Artillery Building: 176 Benefit Street. 1840. The site of an illegal meeting of the Ku Klux Klan on May 17, 1924. Usually associated with the South, the Klan was active in Rhode Island during the 1920s. It organized a meeting at the Arsenal that attracted some 200 men. The group had no permit to meet on state property and had obtained entrance to the Arsenal by claiming it would hold a religious meeting. Later, Rhode Island's Gov. William S. Flynn denounced the Klan and forbade the group to use state property for meetings.

Providence High School Site: 215 Benefit Street. Maritcha Lyons (1848-1929). Following her successful petitioning of the state legislature to integrate its public schools, Lyons was the first African American in Rhode Island to enter an all-white school, graduating in 1869 from Providence High School in 1869. Read Maritcha by Tonya Bolden.

 

Rhode Island School of Design and RISD Museum: 224 Benefit Street. Jewelry designer, Thomas R. Lewis; sculptress Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (see below); printmaker and jewelry designer Wilmer Jennings; Broadway scenic designer Perry Watkins (see Hope High School below); and internationally acclaimed Kara Walker; among many other African Americans, attended the School and have artwork held within the Museum. www.risdmuseum.org

Daniel N. Morse (1795-1869): First Congregational Church, 301 Benefit Street. Morse was a sexton here. See church here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/First_Unitarian_Church_of_Providence_in_2019.jpg

In 1838, Morse and Ichabod Northrup led the  organization of Bethel A.M.E. Church, later that year building a log cabin structure at 193 Meeting Street (see below).

Governor Ambrose Burnside House (1866): 314 Benefit Street. Robert Holloway, a freeman, served as Burnside's valet for eleven years in this house. He was photographed by the great Civil War photographer, Mathew B. Brady circa 1862. He is buried in Jupiter Cemetery in Bristol (see Bristol). Learn more here: 

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/the-capture-of-ambrose-burnsides-valet/

George J. Smith (1785-1859): John Carter Brown House (Nightingale-Brown House), 357 Benefit Street. Smith was a coachman for Brown and is buried at North Burial Ground (see below). See house here: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightingale%E2%80%93Brown_House#/media/File:Nightingale%E2%80%93Brown_House_Providence_RI_2012.jpg

Church of the Savior: 400 Benefit Street. When St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (see below) vacated their premises on Benefit and Transit (now Barker Playhouse) for a new building on Brown’s campus, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Mission moved there in 1840 and assumed the name of the prior residents: Church of the Savior. “A colored congregation succeeded to the name and building, remaining there some fifteen years.”

For anecdotes about Black life on Benefit Street visit: 

http://www.artinruins.com/arch/streetscape/benefit/http://www.artinruins.com/arch/streetscape/benefit/

For oral histories read: African Americans on College Hill

College Hill

Jeffrey Osborne Way: Corner of Pratt and Olney Streets. Named for the noted R&B singer who grew up in Providence.

John Hope Settlement House: 15 Pratt Street. See plaque. First known as the Crispus Attucks Association, the agency was reorganized in 1937 and named the John Hope Community Association in honor of John Hope, an alumnus of Brown University and the first African American President of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and a founder of the NAACP. Housed here from 1939-45. In 1946 it moved to its present location, 7 Thomas P. Whitten Way (named for its longest serving director). Learn more here: https://johnhopedotorg.wordpress.com/about/ View video of plaque dedication here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQWZ-znF4ak

Andrew Jackson, Rhode Island's first Black Dentist, early 1870s. Corner of Prospect and Halsey Streets. 

# Congdon Street Baptist Church: 17 Congdon Street. Built 1874, it is the oldest standing Black church in Providence. For hours, services and history, visit: www.csbchurch.org

Shelter for Colored Children: 20 Olive Street. Founded in 1838 “to provide a home where ‘orphans’ might be taught industry and improve their morals." The Shelter still operates as philanthropic fund.       

                                                                              

William Aaron Heathman Office Site: 19 College Street. Born in Providence in 1872, Heathman attended Doyle Avenue Grammar School; Providence English High School; Brown University, and practiced law here. 

James S. Singleton Residence: 48 Angell Street. Born in North Carolina in 1882, Singleton lived and worked as a cook in the house of manufacturer David C. Scott from about 1930 to 1942.

George Waterman (1799-1882) Site of Residence: 50 Benevolent Street (now a park). Waterman, "a most worthy man and exemplary citizen," was a laborer who worked as a coachman for Edward Carrington. His wife Lucy was a notable cake maker. He is buried at North Burial Ground.

# St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church: 114 George Street: Sometime during the 1850s, the African American parish of Christ Church in downtown Providence was forced to disband. Its communicants were transferred to St. Stephen’s, which thus became one of the first racially integrated parishes in the country. George Henry, Black entrepreneur and bibliophile, served as its sexton for 25 years in the late 1800s.

John Brown House: 52 Power Street. Brown, merchant, patriot, politician, and slave trader, was an instigator and participant in the Gaspee Affair. In spite of Rhode Island laws prohibiting slave trading, he continued the practice, even while being sued by his abolitionist brother Moses. Prior to the building of this house, Brown owned Africans Jack, Amboy, Pomp, and at least two others, who ran away to Boston and were caught. Brown and his family were some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the colonies and are the namesake of Brown University. See plaque on wall to the left of the stairs (note vandal's attempt to eradicate the reference to slavery).  Tours: https://www.rihs.org/museums/john-brown-house/

Meeting Street

 

Old Brick School House, 1769: 21 Meeting Street. In 1828 it became a public school for pupils of color called the Meeting Street Grammar School. Though segregated schools were outlawed in 1865, it remained a Black school until 1887. See plaque.

William P. Freeman House: 58 Meeting Street. Realtor and confidant of Sissieretta Jones, and executor of her estate. Freeman also resided at 83 Benefit (tucked behind # 87), and operated his real estate and insurace business at 76 Dorrance Street (Case-Meade Building, Room 414) until he retired in 1964. It was Freeman who gave an impoverished Sissieretta $1 to take a cab to the hospital just before she died. Learn more about Freeman here: 

https://www.rifoundation.org/TransformingRhodeIsland/100YearsofCommunity/Dedicationtocommunity.aspx

African Meeting House Site: 98 Meeting Street. March 19, 1819, Meeting called to discuss Negro Church. Funds raised under leadership of Rev. Henry Jackson (white) and Nathaniel Paul (colored), founder of the Providence’s United African Society, “to be open and free to all Christian professors and not confined to any one profession of the Christian religion” (Read Moses Brown, Short History of African Meeting House) The first paid pastor was Mr. Asa Gouldsbury. 1819, April – Ground is broken behind the home of Black businessman George McCarty on Meeting Street for the African Union Meeting House on land donated by Quaker Moses Brown.

= * Bethel AME Church Marker: 193 Meeting Street. Founded in 1840 as Meeting Street Church and demolished by Brown University after a 10 year battle, spearheaded by Thurgod Marshall, in the 1950s. It served as an Underground Railroad site. The church is now located at 30 Rochambeau Avenue.

The Bannisters: Edward & Christiana

Afro-Canadian landscape artist, Edward Mitchell Bannister was the first artist to win a national American art prize (Philadelphia Centennial, 1876) and co-founded the Providence Art Club (see below). Christiana Carteaux Bannister, born in North Kingstown, was a highly successful hair doctress, abolitionist, philanthropist, using her resources to help fund the Black 54th Civil War Regiment, found a home for elderly Black women (see below), and finance her husband's art career.

 

Gravesite: North Burial Ground, North Main & Branch Avenue. 1901. The imposing granite headstone, designed by Bannister's friends and fellow artists of the Providence Art Club, bears stunning brass appliqués.

Bus Stop: Bannister tribute on glass panel. North Main Street beside North Burial Ground just south of Royal Street.

Christiana Carteaux Bannister Sculpture: Rhode Island State House, second floor, 82 Smith Street.

Providence Art Club: 11 Thomas Street. Bannister was co-founder in 1878 of this second oldest art club in the US. Within are Bannister’s silhouette, his first prize for the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, and his paintings.

His Art Studio: 2 College Street (Franklin House, 1822). By 1872, Bannister had moved here to a fourth floor studio.

Her Hair Salon Site: 220 Westminster Street.

Home for Aged Colored Women: 45 East Transit Street. Founded by Christiana in 1890, she was a resident there herself prior to her death in 1902. In 1977 a new building was erected at 135 Dodge Street, Providence to serve the same population and renamed Bannister House in her honor.

Bannister Street: at George Street. Once named for slaver, William Magee, the street was renamed for the Bannisters following Stages of Freedom's petition to the City Council in 2017 and dedicated in the fall of 2018, and is the first street officially named for African Americans in the city.

E. M. Bannister Gallery: Roberts Hall, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. Founded and named for Edward in 1978.

Residence: 93 Benevolent Street. The Bannisters resided here from 1884 until 1898. See more here: 

http://mappingartsproject.org/providence/connection/edward-bannister-and-his-wife-lived-at-94-benevolent-st/

Sissieretta Jones 

Raised in Providence, Jones was an internationally renowned opera singer who studied at the Providence Academy of Music, but had deep musical roots in her father’s church, Pond Street Baptist Church. Learn much more here: 

https://www.stagesoffreedom.org/sissieretta-jones

15 Church Street: Income property owned by Jones.

94 Benefit Street: Income property owned by Jones; her mother lived here.

20 Congdon Street: Site of Jones' childhood home beginning in 1876. It would have looked much like those still standing at 24 and 26.

7 Wheaton Street: Site of Jones home where she lived in retirement until her death. She cared for her ailing mother, looked after orphaned children and held tea parties for Black girls in this house.

Plaque: Corner of South Court and Pratt Streets. Commemorates Jones’ career as a world-renowned opera singer who lived near this site at 7 Wheaton Street until her passing in 1933.

Gravesite: Grace Cemetery, Elmwood Street and Broad Street. Headstone located near Broad Street across from the U-haul pick-up. Read more here: 

https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20180508/sissieretta-jones-to-get-headstone

Brown University

Pembroke College (all-female college at Brown): 172 Meeting Street. Ethel Tremaine Robinson, was its first Black female Brown graduate, 1905.

Center for the Study of Slavery & Justice: 94 Waterman Street. A scholarly research center with a public humanities mission, the center was the result of the Study of Slavery & Justice, mandated by President Ruth Simmons, the first Black president of an Ivy League, to examine Brown's ties to the slave trade. Read the report here:

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf

Page-Robinson Hall: 68 Brown Street. Named for first Black graduates of Brown Inman Page (1877) and Ethel Tremaine Robinson (1905). See his portrait in the Brown Center for Students of Color, 68 Brown Street, and hers in the Brown Faculty Club, 1 Bannister Street.

Rites and Reason: 155 Angell Street. The nation’s oldest Black collegiate theatre, founded by Langston Hughes' personal secretary George Houston Bass.

Hope College: Black students such as Fritz Pollard, John Hope Franklin, etc. lived in this dorm.

Slave Trade Memorial: 21 Prospect St. Front Green, Brown University. Recognizes Brown University’s connection to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of Africans and African-Americans, enslaved and free, who "helped build our university." Sculpted by Martin Puryear​ of granite and ductile cast iron.

University Hall, 1770: 1 Prospect Street, Front Green. Pero, slave; Job, Native American; and Mingow, free African, were three of at least four slave laborers who built University Hall, then called the College Edifice for the College of Rhode Island. In the 1880s, Arthur "Jumbo" Jefferson, a Black food vendor, set up shop in the Hall's basement, selling fruit, baked goods and roasted peanuts. Read more here: 

http://www.rihs.org/assetts/files/publications/2008_Sum.pdf

Hope High School: 324 Hope Street

 

Perry Watkins (1907-74): Broadway's first Black scenic designer, was born in Providence and attended Hope High School, where he and a friend hand wrote and decorated a daily newspaper called “The Foolscape.” Awarded a scholarship to study art at the Rhode Island School of Design (see above) in 1926, he studied figure drawing and still life.

Far East Side

George "Gunboat" Purnell: 24 Clarendon Ave. 1865. Built by Washington Cole for workers at Cole Farm. Purnell, “the greatest negro character in the city,” lived here.

Negro Settlements: Grotto Avenue, ca. 1860. Workers for Cole Farm lived here, including Lafayette “La” Shamble, a barber who had a shop on South Main Street.

Mt. Hope

See history of Mt. Hope Street here: http://www.mthopelc.org/about-us/history/

Lippitt Hill: A dense, predominantly African-American, 30-acre residential neighborhood on the northern edge of College Hill and bounded by Olney Street, North Main Street, Doyle Avenue and Camp Street, was identified as “blighted” by the PRA through the provisions of the Federal Housing Act of 1949 and the City’s Redevelopment Act of 1956, and razed to make way for the inferior University Heights shopping and apartment complex. For more information visit: https://www.stagesoffreedom.org/lippitt-hill-project

# Olney Street Baptist Church: 100 Olney Street. On December 19, 1901, the sum of one thousand dollars was paid, and the property located at 30 Olney Street became the home of the Olney Street Baptist Church for a period of fifty-eight years. The church was razed during the destruction of Lippitt Hill and moved to new quaters at this present location.

Olney Street Riot 1831 - Marker: Olney Street Baptist Church, 100 Olney Street. Inscription: "The Site of the Second Major Riot in 19th century Providence between Afro-American residents and white workers." Read more here: 

https://www.academia.edu/4021242/Reconstructing_the_Olney_Lane_Riot

Vincent Brown Recreation Center: 438 Hope Street. Named for a prominent Black community leader who created the Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association. 

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School: 35 Camp Street

Billy Taylor Park: 124 Camp Street. Named for community activist William Taylor who died at age 29

Billy Taylor House: 185 Camp Street Youth empowerment program named for community activist William Taylor who died at age 29. Learn more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Taylor_House

 

Camp Street Community Ministries Inc.: 194 Camp Street. Distribution center for those in need of clothes and food.

Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association: 199 Camp Street. Founded in 1981 by community activist Vincent Brown.

 

Mt. Hope Learning Center: 140 Cypress Street

Dr. Carl Gross House: 66 Doyle Avenue. Gross (1888-1971), lovingly referred to as "the baby doctor," brought 3,000 Black children into the world, but was never was allowed to practice in a Rhode Island hospital because of his color. An armchair scholar, he researched and cataloged countless Rhode Island African Americans and events. His papers are in the Rhode Island College Library Special Collections. See:  https://digitalcommons.ric.edu/crgross_papers/ 

Wilmer & Mary Jennings Home: 171 Pleasant Street. Wilmer, a 1936 graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, was a printmaker, painter, and jeweler. Before matriculating to RISD, he studied sculpture at Atlanta University under Rhode Island native, Nancy  Elizabeth Prophet (see above), and was encouraged to attend RISD by John Hope, president of Atlanta  U. and a Brown University graduate (see above). Jennings had studios at Pleasant Street, 259 Williams Street, and 279 Thayer Street (all still standing). As a jewelry designer from 1943 until his death in 1990, Jennings developed a series of new techniques that benefited Imperial Pearl Company. Mary Jennings, also an artist, studied painting at RISD. More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmer_Angier_Jennings

Read: Pressing On: The Graphic Art of Wilmer Jennings.

^Kentucky Fried Chicken: 805 North Main Street. Co-Founded by Cape Verdean businessmen, Donald Lopes and John Daluz, in the early 1980s, with stores in both Providence and Westerly, the business has provided employment to countless Black and Cape Verdean teens.

Stories of Mt. Hope: East Side Mural Project. Cypress Street footbridge underpass. The mural by Elijah Faris includes soprano Sissieretta Jones, drummer Billy Osborne, saxophonist David Hector, and others. 

Summit

Old Section and Free Ground, North Burial Ground, 5 Branch Avenue. A map of notable African American graves and memorials is available at the North Burial Ground office for a self-guided walking tour. Office: 8am-4pm, M-F, Cemetery open 8am-4pm 7 days a  week. http://www.providenceri.gov/providence-parks/north-burial-ground/

Wanskuck

Celebrity Club site: 56 Randall Street. New England's first integrated jazz club, with national headliners from 1949 to 1960. See plaque on traffic island at the intersection of Randall and Charles Streets.

Celebrity Club Plaque: Traffic island at Charles and Ashburton Streets. Commemorates New England’s first integrated jazz club with national headliners originally located at 56 Randall Street from 1949 to 1960.

Downtown

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge: Finance Way & Francis Street

 

The Scout: Kennedy Plaza. Statue of Lt. Col. Henry Harrison Young, a bi-racial Union Spy.

Rhode Island Sailors & Soldiers Monument: Kennedy Plaza. Honors the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and the 14th RI Regiment heavy artillery (both African American).

Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Society: The Arcade, 65 Weybosset Street. The Society was housed here from 1837 until 1865., and hosted meetings as well as fugitive slaves. Its collection box housed used to raise funds to print abolitionist literature, purchase subscriptions to The Liberator and assist the flight of fugitive slaves to Canada is in the Brown University Library Special Collections.  Visit: http://theliberatorfiles.com/providence-rhode-island-anti-slavery-society/

Stages of Freedom: 10 Westminster Street. This award-winning non-profit operates a gift shop and Black museum, and conducts programs about Black life, proceeds from which fund swimming lessons for African American children. Visit online at StagesofFreedom.org.

^ Joseph G. LaCount Law Office: Case-Meade Building, 68-76 Dorrance Street. LaCount was Rhode Island's leadingg civil rights lawyer.

Repentance for Slavery Marker: Abbott Park, Weybosset Street. Erected in 1999.

 

Fox Point

This early neighborhood is where Black seamen and slaves served the maritime industry. Later, it was the first neighborhood for newly arrived Cape Verdeans, many of whom worked as longshoremen.

= India Point: Point of entry for Cape Verdean Windjammers that brought passengers and cargo to New England.

Cape Verdean Historical Marker: India Point Park. See more here: 

https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=75995

+ = Sheldon Street Baptist Church: 51 Sheldon St. Founded 1886. North America’s first Cape Verdean church. 1886 - Sheldon Street Mission organized under the sponsorship of Central Congregational Church. It was the first Cape Verdean church in the US. In 1949 it becomes it own entity. Church built 1904.

Barros Gallery: 198 Ives Street. Artist Matthew Barros used his home as an art gallery.

Moses and Mary Jane Hampton Home: 22 Fremont Street. In late November 1884, a meeting was held here which resulted in the foundation of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

West Side

Esek Hopkins House, 1756: 97 Admiral Street. "Negro Boy" Edward Abbey, Hopkins's slave, lived here and was on the crew of the slave ship Sally, which sailed from Providence in 1764. See details of the voyage here: http://cds.library.brown.edu/projects/sally/

# Church of the Savior, 1890: 402 Broadway. Originally St. James Episcopal Church, for several years in the 1930s it served as the home of this historically Black Episcopal congregation before they moved to Benefit and Transit Streets.

Prince Hall Masonic Way: See marker at Eddy Street and Thurbers Avenue. Dedicated June 29, 2019.

Prince Hall Masons, 1797, Marker: 883 Eddy Street. Site of the second oldest lodge of this Black fraternal order. Two plaques acknowledge this history, one on a granite base and one on the building.

Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE): 340 Lockwood Street. Founded by Black Brown graduate Mark Toney in 1986 who served as its Executive Director until 1994, working on such issues as benefits for home daycare providers, parent involvement in bilingual education, and preventing utility shut-offs for low-income families. 

Urban League of Rhode Island: 246 Prairie Avenue. Founded in 1939, the Urban League's mission is the elimination of racial discrimination and segregation in the state, and the achievement of parity for Blacks, other minorities, and the poor in every phase of American life. More here: http://www.ulri.org/mission.cfm

B. Jae Clanton Educational Complex: 674 Prairie Avenue. Consists of the Sgt. Cornel Young, Jr. & Charlotte Woods Elementary School. All three namesakes were active in the Providence community. 

Church of the Deliverance: 364 Prairie Avenue. This 1888 building, originally Saint Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church, became a synagogue in 1938 when it was remodeled to its present appearance, and then became the home of the Black congregation in 1967.

South Providence Branch Library, 1930: 445 Prairie Avenue. At one time it housed the Edna Fraizer Collection, named for the noted Black Providence librarian, the largest assemblage of books on Black culture in the state. The Collection once had its own room, but has since been broken up and dispersed throughout the library.

OIC of Rhode Island: (Opportunities Industrialization Center): 1 Hilton Street. Founded in 1967, OIC was created to to fill a pressing need: to help an underserved minority community find and keep meaningful jobs. See history here: 

http://oicrhodeisland.org/history-2/

Robert L. Bailey, IV Elementary School: 65 Gordon Avenue. Bailey was an educator and activist. Learn more here: 

https://www.providenceschools.org/domain/1794

Arthur "Daddy" Black Residence: 180 Cranston Street, Providence. The noted numbers man was murdered here in 1932. See article here: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/14139178/arthur_daddy_black/ His remains were viewed by some 20,000 when he lay in state at the Black Elks Club, 881 Westminster Street (now RJL Furniture). 

Bright Funeral Home: 290 Public Street.

Bertha Higgins House: 50 Woodman Street. Higgins, 1872-1944, was a suffragist, clubwoman, political and civil rights activist. She belonged to the RI Union of Colored Women's Clubs, part of a national movement of Black women who developed women's clubs to improve the social, political, and economic conditions facing African Americans during a period of extensive racial discrimination at the turn of the century.

RI Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: 372 Fountain Street. In 1920, Sarah E. Gardiner, a cat lover from Newport, left her estate, valued at approximately $33,000, to the Society, making it possible for them to erect their first headquarters. A plaque was mounted inside in her honor. 

Portrait of Gov. Theodore Francis Green: 82 Smith Steet. Mary Howard Jennings, a 1924 graduate of RISD, painted this portrait which hangs in the RI State House.

Marker: Public Street

Allen AME Church: 161 Bellevue Avenue. In 1964 the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints was sold to Friendship United Methodist Church; it dissolved in 1977 and was sold to Hood AME Church,  descendant of the Black Methodist church founded in 1863. 

# Macedonia AME Church: 35 Ashmont Street. Originally located on Colfax Street, it was founded and built by Harlem Renaissance author Rudolph Fisher's father.

# Hood Shaw Memorial AME Zion Church: 148 Wadsworth Street.

 

Dexter Training Ground: 65 Dexter Street. Formally known as Camp Fremont, it is a historically significant training ground for Colored Civil War Troops of the Union Army. See more here: 

https://westsidestories.wordpress.com/tag/dexter-field/

Classical High School: 770 Westminster Street. Rudolph Fisher, a Harlem Renaissance figure and the first to write Black detective fiction, graduated here in 1915, serving as associate editor of the yearbook, the class poet, and was acknowledged as "the class genius" in his biography. Brown's first Black female graduate, Ethel Tremaine Robinson, is also a graduate of Classical.

John Hope Settlement: 7 Thomas Whitten Way. See John Hope above under College Hill.

 

Aaron Briggs Manor: 301 Cranston Street. Senior housing named for the young Black patriot involved in the burning of the HMS Gaspee.

Bell Funeral Home: 571 Broad Street. In 1932 Andrew J. Bell, Jr. established Bell Funeral Home in a storefront in Providence. After several years he moved the funeral home to a covered dwelling. In 1960 he purchased the present location from the Graham Funeral Homes. See home history here: 

https://www.bellfuneralhome.net/about-us

Calvary Baptist: 747 Broad Street. In 1854, the First Baptist Church of South Providence and Fifth Baptist Church joined to form Friendship Baptist Church. In 1897 the church relocated to its present location on Broad Street and changed its name to Calvary Baptist Church. More history here: https://calbaptist.org/about-us/our-history/

# * Pond Street Baptist Church: 75 Chester Street. 1835, September 25 - Second Freewill Baptist Church is organized by Rev. John W. Lewis.  The church moved to this site in 1965. A plaque honors its anti-slavery leadership and its stop on the Underground Railroad. 

Ebenezer Baptist Church: 475 Cranston Street. Organized in 1884, an independent congregation born from this community was organized under the name Ebenezer, worshipping on A Street and later at 135 Dodge Street in the city’s West End. See its history here:

https://ebenezerbcprovidence.org/about-us/

Providence Colored Giants: Kinsley Park, corner of Kinsley Avenue and Acorn Streets, Providence (today a parking lot). Site of 1921 baseball game between the then-Cleveland Colored Giants — a team made up of black players — and the Providence Independents — made up of white players. Soon afterward, the Colored Giants would call Providence home while keeping the Cleveland name at the outset, later becoming the Providence Giants, backed by Arthur “Daddy” Black, a Black businessman, until 1931 when they disbanded. See more here: 

https://www.providencejournal.com/news/20190407/ric-professors-tell-tale-of-providences-kinsley-park-sacred-ground-for-black-baseball

West Elmwood

West Elmwood, between Cranston & Long Pond Streets from Waldo Street south to Huntington Avenue. By 1860 a small Black community formed in this largely Irish neighborhood. From then to the early 20th century they worked on the bottom of the economic ladder as laborer, coachmen, porter and peddler. By 1861 they established the Mount Zion Methodist Church, operating for two years in a private home, then in its own building at 148 Wadsworth Street in 1863 and in a second structure on the same site in 1886.  In the late 1950s, the Providence Redevelopment Agency bulldozed West Elmwood to construct the Huntington Expressway Industrial Park. Over five hundred mostly Black families were forced to leave as the hill was bulldozed. Two hundred residents signed a petition and spoke out against the project, arguing that “urban renewal is Negro removal.”

Mt. Pleasant

Cape Verdean Collection: Rhode Island College, Special Collections, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. http://library.ric.edu/specialcollections/cape-verdean-collection

Rose Butler Browne Residence Hall: RI College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. Butler earned a master’s at RIC and in 1939 a PhD at Harvard, making her the first Black woman to earn a doctoral degree in education. In 1950, she received an honorary degree from RIC, and in 1969 a seven-story residence hall on campus was named in her honor.

Carl R. Gross Collection: Rhode Island College, Special Collections, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue. 

https://digitalcommons.ric.edu/crgross_papers/

 

Barrington

 

The 1774 census showed 41 Black people living in Barrington. One of them, Sippeo Richmond, a free man, owned three acres of pasture, one acre of tillage and four acres of waste and woodland.

Slave Memorial: Princes Hill Burial Ground County Road. "In memory of the slaves and their descendants who faithfully served Barrington families. Erected A.D. 1908."

Scipio Freeman (1764-1816) Burial Site: Allin Burial Ground, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery. #BA006. Bay Spring Avenue at Adams Avenue. The Allins were large land-owners in the Drownville part of town. Six Revolutionary veterans are buried here, including Freeman, a former slave of the family. Other enslaved people are buried here too.
 

Thomas Allin House (1783): 20 Lincoln Avenue. Enslaved persons Prince, Jack and Richard AIIin lived here and served in the Revolutionary War.

Cranston

 

Frederick Douglass spoke in Fiskeville, a small village in the south west corner of Cranston, in the early 1840s.

Baker Family Slave Cemetery: Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #065. Located 300 feet northeast of the Baker family lot (CR054). A dozen graves of Baker slaves; none are inscribed.

 

+ Potter Family Slave Lot. Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #CR555. Riverlet Farm. 

+ Slave Burial Lot, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #CR557.

James Arnold visited this lot 23 Aug 1891 and wrote: "On the Cole Mine and beside the old road and near the water main of the Sockanosett Reservoir a burial yard of colored people, slaves and afterward free - about 20 interments in all."

Slave Burial Lot, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #CR551. James Arnold visited this lot 23 Aug 1891 and wrote: "On the farm lately belonging to Ezekiel Pierce and formerly owned by Gorton Arnold, northwest of the house in edge of wood, yard much overrun with weeds and bush, a slave burial yard, nothing but rude stones mark the spot."

Warwick

 

In 1652, at a General Court of Commissioners held at Warwick, Rhode Island passed the first law abolishing African slavery where ‘black mankind’ could not be indentured more than ten years. Read more here: http://warwickonline.com/stories/unfollowed-abolishment-of-slavery-in-1652-twist-to-rhodys-past,43815

Benoni, a “mulatto” boy, was apprenticed to George Greene, 1795-1801.

  

Caesar Sambo of Warwick manned a privateering ship in Britain’s battle against foreign powers in the French and Indian war – yet did so as an enslaved sailor. (Citation: Joanne Pope Melish)

Birthplace of Elleanor Eldridge, Rhode Island's first Black female entrepreneur, March 1784. Read her memoirs here: 

https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/eldridge/eldridge.html

In Warwick the 1810 census taker substituted "B" for the names of Black heads of household with the result many Black and Indian heads of household appear to have left town. There were 230 "free blacks" and one slave there, all with no information.

Birthplace of Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, 1890 in the Arctic section.

Aaron Briggs: Gaspee Affair, 1772. Briggs, age 14, from Prudence Island, participated in the burning of the Gaspee off Naiquid Point of Pawtuxet Village, an act of aggression against the British, signalling "the first shot" in what would become the Revolutionary War. See his testimony here: http://sos.ri.gov/assets/img/civics/teacher-resources/Aaron-p1-LG.jpg

See also the testimony of Black indentured servants Somerset and Jack: http://sos.ri.gov/assets/img/civics/teacher-resources/jack-somerset-1-LG.jpg

Read more at: http://www.gaspee.org/AaronBriggs.htm (See Briggs under Portsmouth)

Captain Peter Greene House, c. 1751. 1124 West Shore Road. On July 28, 1725, Greene left Hager, his “negro” slave, 10 shillings to “induce her to be kinde to my Wife," and her children were bequeathed 5 shillings each.

+ Peter Greene Slave Lot, also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Warwick #123. Behind 155 Symonds Avenue (backyard). Plat 333; Within Lot 397.

+ Waterman Slaves Cemetery, also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Warwick #103. Old Homestead Road. An 1895 granite marker mentions five slaves by name and that the last burial was in 1820. Details here: 

https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2620917/waterman-slaves-cemetery

 

Old Town Workhouse, c. 1765: 58 Colonial Avenue, Apponaug. Housing for indigent citizens who were put to work doing tasks that they were capable of performing.

 

Captain Thomas Remington House, 1740: 47-49 Post Road, Pawtuxet. Remington was a slave trader and reportedly housed his slaves in a structure behind the house and held slave auctions in the barn.

 

Moses Greene House, c. 1750. 11 Economy Avenue, Conimicut Village. This house has been connected to the Triangular Trade, smuggling, and the slave trade during the period when the house was owned by members of the Lippitt and Greene families. 

Waterman Slaves Cemetery: Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Warwick #103. Located 500 feet west of Old Homestead Drive at telephone pole #2. It is marked by a granite marker placed in 1895 that mentions five slaves by name and that the last burial was in 1820.

West Warwick

 

Frederick Douglass spoke in Phenix, in the early 1840s.

Centreville Mill: 3 Bridal Avenue. Site of a 'negro cloth" mill owned by William Dean Davis from 1850 to 1860.

Greene Manufacturing Company, Royal Mills Complex: 200 Providence Street, Riverpoint. In the  later 1850s, the Harris family manufactured "Kentucky jeans," a durable cotton twill fabric sold in the south as "negro cloth."

Warwick and East Greenwich Freewill Baptist Church: 389 Greenwich Avenue. In 1871 the First Baptist Church disbanded and sold their meetinghouse in Pontiac to this Black congregation, who moved it back to it original Greenwood location in 1873, and sold the land to the Swedes, who built a new church there in 1876. The original Saint Paul’s burned down in December, 1914, and the present structure was erected to replace it.

Slave Cemetery: Rhode Island Historical Cemetery West Warwick #515. 1400 Division Road, approximately 1,000 feet behind (north of) Lot #1, on Amtrol's property.

Coventry

Bristol 

The second largest of Rhode Island’s three major slave ports.

 

New Goree: Bordered by Wood and Bay View Avenues, this Black community formed in 1789.

DeWolf Bristol Bank: 267 Thames Street, 1818. Walk down the alley, which leads to a present-day restaurant, and look to the left to see a partial entrance which would have led to a cellar. A small number of enslaved Africans were brought into the basement upon disembarking from ships. The alley was actually a waterway and ships would come right in between these two buildings to load and unload.

Juniper Hill Cemetery: 24 Sherry Avenue. Burial site of Robert Holloway, valet to Governor Burnside (See Burnside House in Providence) His epitaph reads: "30 years a faithful servant to Gen. Burnside, at home and in the field." 

 

Carrington Palmer Munroe House: c.1853. 698 Hope Street. Built by Munroe, a free Black cooper.

"Song" Haskell House, 1808: 100 Franklin Street. Africans Haskell
and wife Morea, built this house in the New Goree community. Originally located near the corner of Franklin & Wood Streets, it was moved here. Morea and two children are buried in the East Burial Ground. 

York Usher House, 1805: 568 Wood Street (rear). In 1805, Usher, a freed slave, purchased land and built a two room cottage. York served onboard ships as a laborer. In 1828 he sold the house to another freed slave.

Marie Hazzard House: 495 Wood Street. Hazzard, listed in 1875 as mulatto, built this house. She sold its land to the National Rubber Company in exchange for three lots across the street where she moved her house to its present location. Her son Daniel bought it in 1875.

# African Church (before 1851): 417 Wood Street. The church also served as a school for Black children until RI segregated schools were outlawed in 1864.

Linden Place: 1810. 500 Hope Street. Built by George DeWolf and home to James DeWolf, America’s most prolific slaver, remaining in the trade long after it was outlawed. Jay Coughtry writes, "the D'Wolfs are without peers... theirs was one of the few fortunes that truly rested on rum and slaves." Over the years the DeWolfs iaunched twice as many slaving voyages as their nearest competitors. The career of the notorious George DeWoif did not end until 1825, during which time he was engaged in the totally illegal enterprises of slave trading and privateering for a foreign government.

+ Burt and Haskells Burial Sites, Eat Burial Ground, Corner of Wood Street and Mt. Hope Avenue.

+ Burial Site: 107 Woodlawn Avenue. Judith Honeyman, 1831; Adjua D’Wolf, 1868, slaves of James DeWolf.

+ DeWolf Family Slave Graves: Opposite 107 Woodlawn Avenue.

Dorothy Russell Crockett Bartleson Classroom. Roger Williams University School of Law, Room 285, 10 Metacom Avenue. Bartleson was admitted to the RI Bar as the first Black Woman in 1932. Learn more here: https://law.rwu.edu/news/news-archive/amazing-dorothy-crockett

Warren

From 1803-1807 approximately 600 slaves were c arried primarily from Guinea to the Charleston market in Warren ships.

Benjamin Cole House: corner of Child Street and Asylum Road (now an apartment building). Ceasar (sic) Cole, enslaved by Cole, ran away from this site, or perhaps the Cole Hotel on Main Street (no longer standing), and was sought in a 1770 ad: "a tall slim fellow with a large scar on one hand." Ceasar fought in the Black Regiment and died at Valley Forge in 1778.

Captain John Mason Homestead, c. 1720. 114 Maple Road, Touisset Point. Warren Mason, enslaved by John Mason, obtained freedom by enlisting in the 'Black Regiment" during the Revolutionary War.

Eddy-Cutler House, 1806-1230 State Street. Built circa 1806-1812 by Warren merchant and slave trader Benjamin Eddy. The lot was sold to him in 1806 by John Child, a town councilman and slave owner in 1774 who built slave ships before the Revolutionary War. Captain Eddy was an owner and captain of at least three slave voyages, the Snow Eliza in 1801 and the ship Agent in 1806 and 1807. Eddy purchased the property only months after delivering 139 captives to the Charleston docks in June 1806, and before leaving in September for another journey to Africa.

See names of enslaved Warren residents here: https://warrenmpp.com/2018/04/20/finding-the-names-of-warrens-enslaved-people/

Follow the Warren Middle Passage project here: 

https://warrenmpp.com/

East Greenwich

 

James Mitchell Varnum House 1773: 56 Pierce Street. Brigadier

General Varnum was instrumental in creating the Revolutionary War's Rhode Island Black Regiment, the first genuine route to freedom for African Americans in Rhode Island. Learn more here: 

http://varnumcontinentals.org/

East Greenwich Academy: 112 Pierce Street. Frederick Douglass spoke at the East Greenwich Academy in 1888.

Scalloptown: Water Street vicinity. An early 20th century Black community founded by newly freed slaves. It survived until 1921 when pressures from the white community forced residents to relocate.

 

Marlborough Street Chapel Marker: Corner of Marlborough and Long Street. Inscription: "Built in 1872 by William Northup on the former site of Scalloptown. This chapel was the first fully integrated congregation in East Greenwich." The church was built on the site of the Black squatters community called Scalloptown. 

Straight-Spencer Lot, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #EG084. 

This cemetery is behind #65 Partridge Run (built in 1999). "Henry Straight's family and others are buried here and also colored slaves."

 

+ Winsor Fry Grave: Rhode Island Historic Cemetery #91. The cemetery is 550 feet southwest of Cedar Ave. and 650 feet northwest of Middle Road. It is between the house at 168 Hemlock Dr. and Glenwood. Former slave Fry was a Revolutionary War patriot. This lot is on the immediate west side of Glenwood Cemetery wall. It extends perhaps 10-15 feet into the adjoining house lot. Six, perhaps as many as eight stones are present, none with inscriptions. Stones face south in a row running north to south and are eight feet west of the Glenwood stone wall and run parallel to it. Burial rights were deeded to Solomon Fry, colored, his wife and children (only) as per deed 15:481. Winsor Fry's son Solomon and Solomon's wife Hagar are buried in EG038. Read more here: 

http://www.nedhector.com/Windsor_Fry.htm 

https://eastgreenwichnews.com/descendents-celebrate-eg-former-slave-turned-revolutionary-war-patriot/                                                                                                                                      

West Greenwich

Hopkinton

 

* Jacob D. Babcock House, 1778: 20 High St., Ashaway, was the first Rhode Island stop on the Underground Railroad.

* Isaac Cundall House: Corner of Main & West Streets. Served as a safe haven on the Underground Railroad. Cundall served as a conductor there as early as age 6. Read about him here: http://smallstatebighistory.com/narrative-of-an-ashaway-teenagers-role-in-the-underground-railroad-rediscovered/

Prudence Crandall Marker: Main Street. Crandall founded the Canterbury (CT) Female Boarding School, the first integrated school, which Sarah Harris attended (see George Fayerweather Homestead, North Kingstown below). Crandall was born here in 1803 in a 1778 house no longer standing.

General George Thurston Mansion, 1763: 496 Main Street. Barbary Sampson, African American servant, lived here.

Exeter

+ Gardner Family Slaves,  Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #EX508. Route 2. Near old cellar hole are two graves, those of slaves of the Gardner Family." on grounds of Veterans Cemetery.

 

+ Morey Family Slaves , Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #EX535. Located by James Arnold 23 Mar 1880 (his #35). "on land of George Brown a little SE of the old Morey burial yard (EX528) in the wood is a solitary grave marked by rude stones being that of a negro slave owned by the Moreys' who it is said was whipped to death, particulars not known"

Harris Mill: 618 Main Street. Located in the Millville section, it was leased to James S. Harris around 1832 to manufacture "negro cloth," a fabric sold to the south and made into clothing for slaves. Read about "negro cloth" here: http://www.mesdajournal.org/2012/slave-cloth-clothing-slaves-craftsmanship-commerce-industry/

Richmond

 

+ Rev. Daniel Davis Burial Site: Richmond Historical Cemetery #89, Woodville, located 2,000 feet west of Switch Road at telephone pole #94. Also buried here is his wife, Almira Bundy, 1832-1904. Davis, an escaped southern slave, born in 1834 and died "an honor minister of the gospel" in 1904, preached at St. Thomas Episcopal Church (see below). When Frederick Douglass fled the bondage of his Maryland master, Davis became his replacement and Edward Corey, a noted "negro breaker," took out his ire that Douglass got away on Davis through brutal physical torture. When Davis escaped, he eventually met Douglass for the first time in Connecticut and shared this story. (As the grave is on private property, seek permission to view it from the nearby turf farm or the property owners.)

 

# St. Thomas Episcopal Church:  322 Church Street. Wood River Jct. (aka Alton). Rev. Daniel Davis preached here. 

Westerly

Charles Perry House, 4 Margin Street. Perry, one of the

wealthiest men in Rhode Island, was an anti-slavery activist. He once entertained Frederick Douglass here and escorted him to an abolitionist meeting and shielded him from missiles of raw eggs and buckets of water. Perry sheltered runaways on the Underground Railroad in stone huts with sod rooves hidden in a wooded section of Charlestown between King Tom's Farm and Shumuncanoc. Following the 1857 Dred Scott decision, a number of terrorized free Rhode Island Blacks, who had long resided in the state, took to living in these huts. Learn more here: 

https://westerlylife.com/charles-perry-westerlys-most-ardent-abolitionist/

# Pleasant Street Baptist Church: 37 Pleasant Street. Founded in 1874 as  First Advent Christian Colored Church of Westerly. Name changed to Pleasant Street Baptist Church in 1934, founded by “colored people who had held membership in the Indian Church Charles town, entry 251, to provide a house of worship in Westerly for their race.” Read: "Pleasant Street Baptist Church History (1874-2009): Faith and Vision." by Thomas O'Connell (non-circulating copy at Westerly Public Library)

+ Philis Jumbo Burial: Simeon Pendleton Ground WY061, 17 Pond Street. Philis was a Smith family slave.

Charlestown

 

One the major slave-holding towns in the state where Blacks toiled on plantations producing dairy & grain goods. 

Charles Perry (see above) built a series of stone and sod houses in the woods here to hide fleeing slaves on the Underground Railroad. 

Home of Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island and a Miss Black America contestant (1991).

Arkwright Manufacturing Company: Arkwright Village. Founded by leading slaver James DeWolfe, the textile mills were supplied with cotton picked by southern slaves.

 

North Kingstown

 

"Three hundred people were enslaved in North Kingstown, and by the turn of the 19th century newly free people of color faced a crossroad. Two woolen mills producing “Negro cloth” would diverge on racial preferences – one hiring skilled black spinners and weavers, the other excluding them." - Peter Fay

 

Birthplace of Mintus Northrop (1772) father of Solomon Northrop, author of "12 Years a Slave", and Christiana Carteaux Bannister

(1819 - see above in Providence) a highly successful entrepreneur.

 

Northrop Homestead: Featherbed Lane, ca. 1690. Mintus Northrop, father of Solomon Northrop, author of 12 Years a Slave, was held in bondage here.

+ Smith's Castle (Cocumscussoc), 1678: 55 Richard Smith Drive, Wickford. A plantation that covered thousands of acres, it depended on slave labor to produce and ship goods abroad and to support the owners' domestic requirements. Exhibit within illuminates its slave history. The Updike cemetery located here contains 80+ slave burials.

http://www.smithscastle.org/

View video on slaves in Smith's Castle: https://vimeo.com/143894765

+ Old Narragansett Church (aka St. Paul's): 60 Church Lane, Wickford: 1707. Slave pews are still extant and the Burial Ground contains slaves (see below). Pastor James McSparran, kept a diary detailing the attendance of slaves in the church. View: "A Minster and Hist Slaves" 

https://vimeo.com/116018991

+ Platform Cemetery, St. Paul's Church, bottom of slope on eastern side of the the church. Slaves buried here, marked with fieldstones, were members of the church, including that of its minister, Rev. McSparran. In use from 1720 to the early 19th century.

+ Gardiner-Stanton Slave Lot: Between Congdon-Gardner Way and Stony Fort Road, off Mooresfield Road. Not open to the public, but noteworthy as the largest slave cemetery in New England.

"Old Yellow": 6 Bay Street, 1785, Wickford. Freed slaves, James and Christina Chase, moved into the house in 1885. James, who fought in the Civil War, came to Rhode Island from Maryland and joined a local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic. He packaged yeast in the basement of Old Yellow and sold it to local bakers and brewers. His daughter, Mary Thomas, a local midwife famous for her clam-bakes, lived here for 80 years when she passed at age 109.

+ Slaves of Christopher Phillips Burial Site: Rhode Island Historic Cemetery #347. Tower Hill Road, south of Belleville, north of Haverhill, south of Chatworth.  James Arnold recorded this lot in 1881 as "On a knoll without protection a burial yard of the colored servants of the Phillips family the former owner of this property." Fifteen fieldstones, including Lonnon, negro servant of Christopher Phillips. d. Jan 24, 1726/7, 22y and Hagar, sister of Lonnon, negro servant of Christopher Phillips, d. Apr. 22, 1727, 19y.

+ Aunt Kate Burial Site: Major Joshua Davis Lot: Also known as Rhode Island Historical Cemetery North Kingstown #6. 600 ft Davisville Rd. at telephone pole # 360. Take private driveway. 300 yards behind Phillips farmhouse (gain permission).  Kate was an ex-slave belonging to Tillinghast then to Davis through marriage; she died 1856. See stone here: 

http://rihistoriccemeteries.org/newgravedetails.aspx?ID=158391

Potter's Field, Elm Grove Cemetery. Unmarked grave of Thankful Union, "the colored mute," who died in 1881 at the age of 95. Read about her here: 

https://www.nklibrary.org/sites/nklibrary.org/files/pdf/Misc.pdf (page 28)

+ Other Slave Burials Sites in North Kingston: Phillips, Tower Hill Road - 17 graves; Willet/Carpenter, Carroll Road - unknown number of graves; Hall/Carpenter, Post Rd.Post Road – unknown number; Browning, Boston Neck Road – 7; Fones, Austin Road – 28; Walmsley Hill – 25.

South Kingstown

 

According to the 1730 census, South Kingstown contained 333 Africans, the second lagest enslaved population in the state next to Newport, and by 1748 they held the largest number at 453. After attaining their freedom, many settled in the more remote interior sections of town, especially in the Matunuck Hills and along Minis- terial Road. These freedmen included Ned Watson, a preacher; Guy Watson, hero of the Revolutionary War Black Regiment; Cuff Tory, a fisherman; and Sylvia Tory, the mysterious witch of Ministerial Road, who was the only former slave who could purchase her land. After about 1860, Blacks moved into Biscuit City, including George and Sima Gambia, noted story tellers of their day, and a locality called Castle Hall was a public gathering place, where meetings, weddings, and other activities were held.

+ Fayerweather Family and Young Family Burials, Old Fernwood Cemetery, Kingston Road (Rte. 138)

Solomon Fayerweather House 1852: 18 Mooresfield Road. Built by Solomon Fayerweather, son of George, II (see below).

George Fayerweather Homestead, 1820: 1859 Mooresfield Road. George Fayerweather II, descended of freed slave, George Fayerweather, once property of Reverend Samuel Fayerweather of the Glebe, was a blacksmith. In 1819 he purchased land and had the shop moved here; it functioned until the early 1930s. His wife Sarah Harris was the first Black student to attend Prudence Crandall’s Academy in Connecticut. (She's featured in John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.). The house served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, and both Frederick Douglass and William Loyd Garrison visited here. In 1965, it was restored as a museum by the Kingston Improvement Association and occupied by the Fayerweather Craft Guild. In 1984 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The blacksmith shop no longer exists. For details call 401-789-9072.

Site of the Glebe: In an area north of Bridgetown Road and west of the Pettaquamscutt River, along the slope of McSparran Hill, is the site of a house and farm, historically significant as  the residence of the Reverend James MacSparran, rector of the Old Narragansett Church. (see North Kingstown). MacSparran owned about a dozen slaves, the males doing farm work or personal service and women engaged in housework or light outside work. His diary is one of the most complete accounts of Black enslaved life on a northern plantation.

The Hills or Commons: Matunuck Hills. Six free Black families lived here starting just after the Revolutionary War. A few of the house still remain. 

Mooresfield: A small area along and near the Saugatucket River and Mooresfield Road which includes several houses, a cemetery, a church site, a school site, and a mill site. Between 1867 and 1895 these would have included a small Black church.

Helme House: 2587 Kingstown Road. Another property owned at one time by the Fayerweather family.

Kingston Congregational Church (1820): 2610 Kingston Road. In 1841 its members came out strongly against slavery deeming it a sin against God. 

Narragansett Planters: Wakefield Post Office, 551 Kingstown Road. WPA Mural by Ernest Hamlin Baker depicts the slave driven economy of South County was installed during the depression. In June 2003, this mural was restored and reinstalled in the Pettaquanscutt Historial Society located in the Old Washington Jail, 2636 Kingstown Road, Kingston.

 

Old Washington County Jail (1792): 2036 Kingstown Road. (Now the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society). In 1842, enslaved Cato Pearce (born in North Kingstown in 1790) was jailed here when Elisha R. Potter, Sr., one of the most powerful white men in Rhode Island, did not want Pearce to leave work at his South Kingstown farm to preach.  Read: McBurney, Jailed for Preaching: The Autobiography of Cato Pearce, a Freed Slave from Washington County, Rhode Island, the most complete account by a Rhode Island-born African American who transitioned from slavery to freedom.

Peace Dale Manufacturing Company: 2 Columbia Street. The 2-story stone facade and bell tower are all that remain of the stone mill built by the Hazards in 1847 to house the newly incorporated company which principally produced "negro cloth" for the southern slave industry. (See Exeter listing) It employed (at least in the 1810s) free African American labor for carding and spinning. Hazard’s business records and correspondence (https://hollisarchives.lib.harvard.edu/repositories/11/resources/590/collection_organization) reveal the contradiction between personal values and business practices. Thomas Hazard, president of the Company from 1848 to 1864, wrote The Jonny-Cake Papers (1915) which provides a rich portrait of their Black cook, Phillis.

Rev. Arthur Hardge Statue: University of Rhode Island Campus, in front of the Multicultural Center. Hardge was the first Black administrator at URI and a civil rights activist. Sculpture by Black artist Arnold Prince. More on Hardge here: 

https://web.uri.edu/talentdevelopment/2002/11/25/td-history-rev-arthur-l-hardge-the-struggle-for-justice/

+ Sylvia Torrey Burial Site: Rhode Island Historical Cemetery, South Kingstown #153. Located "seven hundred feet north of Curtis Corner Road. Follow the drive at telephone pole #106/4871 1/2 on Curtis Corner Road north for seven hundred feet to a house on the left. The cemetery is in the woods 160 feet SW of the SW corner of the house." Along with Torrey "a noted character in her day," are her children and a grandchild.

Rhode Island Civil Rights Oral Histories: 

https://www.loc.gov/folklife/civilrights/survey/view_collection.php?coll_id=975

+ Other Slave Burial Sites in South Kingstown: Gardiner/Robinson - 75-80 graves; Col. R. Brown - unknown number.

Narragansett

Thomas and Lucy Artist House: Corner of Carroll Road and Boston Neck Road, Saunderstown. Thomas, a Civil War veter an, and Lucy, born on Block Island, lived in this house until 1916. Thomas, a vendor and stone mason, was a charter memeber of the Saunderstown Volunteer Fire Department and founder of the Saunderstown Free Library.

Casey Farm c. 1750: 2325 Boston Neck Road, Saunderstown. Moses

and Walter Casey, laborers, purchased by Silas Casey in 1760, show up in the 1744 census and the 1777 military census. Henry Carr, a freeman, was a laborer here from 1798-1811, living in a small house on the farm in return for work.

Abigail Mumford Burial, 1707: Thomas Mumford Burial Ground. Located 100 feet north of Kingstown Road next to tennis courts in Sprague Park. Abigail was murdered by a slave belonging to Mr. Mumford of Kingston. The slave was found dead on the shore of Little Compton. It was thought that he threw himself into the sea rather than be taken alive. It was ordered that his head, legs and arms be cut off from his body and hung in a public place near the town, and his body be burnt to ashes "that it may, please God, be something of a terror to others from perpetrating of the like barbarity for the future."

Jamestown

 

According to a 1706 census, 15% of Jamestown's population was Black. In 1756 it was 36%.

James Howland, Rhode Island's Last Slave: Jamestown's Registry of Births & Deaths 1850 to 1916, recorded Howland's death on Jan. 3, 1859 as "a Slave Freed by the Act of 1792." 100 years old, he was born in Jamestown, birth date unknown. His death notice in the Providence Daily Tribune on Jan. 10, 1859 read: "James Howland, the last of the Rhode Island slaves, died at the residence of John Howland, Jamestown, R.I., on the 3d inst., at the ripe old age of one hundred years. He had always been a faithful servant in the Howland family. Up to the time of his death he retained all his faculties unimpaired, and on the night of Jan. 2 attended to his usual duties about the house. On the morning of the 3d he rose, dressed himself, and was about to ascend the stairs from his chamber, when he fainted, and expired in a few moments." See his death notice here: https://jamestown.pastperfectonline.com/archive/58A257FC-BD0D-4F39-B699-459941943140

Frank H. C. Rice (1869-1937) and Olivia Johns Rice (1880-1973) Tombstone. Hazard Lot, Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Jamestown #10. Rice was the caretaker of the Hazard summer home. According to family lore, Rice saved Daniel Hazard's life when he slipped on rocks while fishing at Beavertail, and Daniel and Daniel's son Peyton felt a lifetime obligation. When Frank died, his wife Olivia continued to live in the caretaker cottage behind the Hazard house on Cliff walk until after Peyton Hazard's death in 1961. Under Peyton's will, Olivia Rice received $100 a month for life, and she moved to a farm she had purchased on North Road.

Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church10 Cole Street. Organized in what was the old Baptist church, c. 1868, on August 11, 1895. Now a private residence. 

Andrew and Milissa Lodkey conducted a restaurant on Ferry Wharf from 1911 until the early 1930s. 

Camp Bailey on Dutch Island: Jamestown, lying west of Conanicut Island at an entrance to Narragansett Bay. The 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored) was organized in Providence, Rhode Island, and mustered in August 28, 1863, for three years service. The units of the regiment were trained here. Read more here: http://smallstatebighistory.com/fourteenth-regiment-rhode-island-heavy-artillery-colored-civil-war/ and http://rhodetour.org/items/show/288

Portsmouth

 

Aaron Briggs, a participant in the burning of the HMS Gaspee, was held here in bondage on Prudence Island by Captain Samuel Tompkins in the 1770s.

The Battle of Rhode Island Historic District. Includes A) Butts Hill and B) Main Battlefield in the north-central part of town (see below) which mark the site of the only major Revolutionary War engagement in Rhode Island. On August 29, 1778, British troops, supported by three Hessian regiments, came from Newport along the East and West Main roads and marched against the American troops at the north end of Aquidneck Island. A Colonial Black Regiment drove back three Hessian attacks and cost the enemy many men.

 

A. Fort Butts and Butts Hill: 31-acre tract, on relatively high ground elevation 200 feet, it was not directly involved in the fighting, but served the Colonials as a supply and communications center as well as a possible point of retreat. 

 

B. The Main Battlefield, a 365-acre tract covering the major arena of action. Within this part of the historic district are: Turkey Hill, which was the key point for the British left flank; Barker Brook, called Bloody Brook after the battle; Almy Hill, the anchor of the British left flank; and Lehigh Hill, which anchored the American right flank. The district today also includes several dozen houses and outbuildings, most post-Revolutionary; a monument and flag pole erected in 1976 commemorating the role played by the Black Regiment in the battle; and Hessian Hole, along Bloody Brook, the burial place of 60 Hessian soldiers killed in the battle.

Patriots Park: West Main Rd, Rte. 114 at Rte 24. Honors the Rhode Island Black Regiment and their valiant participation in the Battle of Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War. In 1778, the General Assembly authorized the creation of a regiment comprised of free and enslaved African American and Native American men. The law stated that previously enslaved men who served in the regiment would be free at the war’s end. See the legislation here: 

http://sos.ri.gov/assets/img/civics/teacher-resources/Black-Regiment-p1-LG.jpg

Sarah J. Eddy House: 567 Bristol Ferry Road, just south of the Mount Hope Bridge. In 1883, Eddy painted an oil-on-canvas portrait of Frederick Douglass, reportedly the only formal portrait for which he ever sat.

Lawton's Valley (now Raytheon Wildlife Habitat): Southeast of Carr Point and northeast of Lawtons. A popular picnic site in colonial times, African Caesar Lyndon, enslaved by Rhode Island Governor Josias Lyndon, wrote in his personal diary of a country picnic he took here with other enslaved friends from Newport on August 12, 1766. See text here: http://www.colonialcemetery.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/lyndon_diary_sm.jpg

Learn more about Lawton's Valley here: http://rewhc.org/zone4history.shtml

 

Julia Ward Howe House site, 1853: The Howes built their first home on the site of the old mill by the ravine on the west side of West Main Road. Howe wrote the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", one of the most popular songs of the Union during the Civil War. She was an abolitionist, though not in favor of racial equality.

 

Julia Ward Howe House, 1870: Oak Glen, 745 Union Street.

Middletown

Prescott Farm: 2009 West Main Road. On July 9, 1777, Black patriot Quarco Honyman (Jack Sisson) captured British General Prescott, who had set up headquarters in the Nichols-Overing House. 

Newport

Bellevue Avenue

"Miramar" - The Widener Cottage, 1915: 646 Bellevue Avenue. African American Julian Francis Abele (1881-1950) was the chief architect.

Downing Block: Bellevue Avenue. Built by catering king, George T. Downing ca. 1861. Downing’s name is on a marker at Touro Park, Mill Street, which he helped finance. He is buried in Island Cemetery, 30 Warner Street.

Bridge Street

Armstead Hurley Paint & Wallpaper Business: 1, 3, 5 Bridge Street. Hurley operated his highly successful business here, serving Newport's elite during the Gilded Age. 

Louis Walker - City Taxi, 1947: 13 Bridge Street. Walker invested in numerous transporta tion-related business ventures including a limou sine service, a garage and a bus company located on Friendship Street and on Broadway.

Stephen Ayrault House, c.1790: 31 Bridge Street. In 1774, Ayrault owned five slaves, some of whom may have been employed as seamen aboard his ships. In 1773-74 Ayrault owned the slaver Fanny which undertook a voyage to the Guinea Coast and transported 112 slaves to Charleston, S.C.

John Townsend House and Workshop, c.1750: 70 and 72 Bridge Street, Townsend owned three slaves. Whether or not slaves were employed as laborers in the cabinet and furniture-making shop is not known.

Pitt’s Head Tavern, c.1725: 77 Bridge Street. Owned by Ebenezer Flagg, a manufacturer of cordage, who participated with Henry Collins and Samuel Engs in the slave trade, jointly owning the slaver Africa in 1755.

Brenton Counting House, c.1748: 90 Bridge Street. Commercial building associated with the mercantile empire of the Brenton family. In 1774, Benjamin and Jahell Brenton owned seven slaves. Their counting house, originally located at Champlin Wharf and Thames Street, was the center of the family’s extensive trading activities. Cuffe Cockroach, a noted colonial cook was one of the Brenton slaves.

Brinley Street

Nellie Brown’s Rest Home, aka Golden Age Rest Home, c.1860: 21 Bnnley Street. In the twentieth century, this structure and 23 Brinley Street were utilized by Black businesswoman Nellie Brown as a rest/retirement/nursing home popular with the African-American community.

Nolan’s Boarding House, c.1850: 24 Brinley Street. In the mid-20th century Nolan catered to African Americans.

Boarding House: 26 Brinley Street. In the early 20th-century, the building was owned by Thomas Glover, an influential black businessman and property owner who, with Armstead Hurley, David B. Allen, Marcus C. Andrews, James Johnson and Lindsay Walker formed the Rhode Island Loan and Invest ment Company, a black-owned bank on Washing ton Square.

Broadway

Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House, 1697 (Newport's oldest house): 17 Broadway. A minkisi, composed of various found objects, the earliest-known artifact of spiritual practice by Africans in the New World, was discovered here under the floorboards. It is now on extended loan to the Smithsonian's African American Museum. 

Catherine Street

 

Fillmore House: 22 Catherine Street. This hotel was an employment center for African Americans prior to the Civil War, catering to Newport’s developing hotel resort trade.

Clarke Street

Ezra Stiles House: 14 Clarke Street. Built for the Second Congregational Society as a parsonage. The Reverend Stiles lived in the house during his term in Newport as pastor of the Second Congregational Church prior to the Revolution. Stiles and the Reverend Samuel Hopkins joined forces to launch an early attempt at encouraging Africans in missionary work in their homeland. Stiles is known to have had at least one African slave as a body servant.

Caleb Hollingsworth House c. 170528 Clarke Street. Peter Easton owned the house in 1712 and it remained in the Easton family until after 1727. A Peter Easton is recorded to have had a slave in Newport as early as 1691. Prior to the Revolution 1755-1801 it was owned by Joseph Burrill, a tin craftsman, who owned five slaves in 1774. 

Robert Stevens House c. 1742-55: 31 Clarke Street. Stevens was        an upholsterer and ship chandler who owned five slaves in 1774, presumably employed as domestic servants and laborers in his mercantile operations.

Vernon House, c. 1708: 46 Clarke Stree. William Vernon and his son Samuel were extensively involved in the slave trade, with interests in at least 34 slaving voyages and ownership of 20 slave ships over the period, including Titt Bitt, Cassada Garden, Venus, Marygold, Greyhound, Hare, Royal Charlotte, Reynard, Little Sally, Whydah, Othello, Adventure, Eagle, Polly, Active, Don Galvez, Washington, Pacific, Ascension and Mary. These voyages transported over 3,000 slaves to various North American ports. In 1774, Samuel owned five slaves and was known as one of the richest men in town. 

Cross Street

Thomas Walker/King’s Arms/ Samuel Barker House, c. 1713: 6 Cross Street. Owned by successful Black businessman Armstead Hurley at the turn of the twentieth century. Hurley owned and operated a painting and wallpapering firm nearby at 1, 3, 5 Bridge Street and was a partner in the Rhode Island Loan and Investment Company, a Black bank located on Washington Square.

 

Division Street

Lucas-Johnston House, c.1720: 40 Division Street. As early as 1711, newspaper advertisements relate the sale of slaves, both Indian and Negro, from the Colony House with pre-auction viewing at this home owned by Augustus Lucas. In 1774 Johnston owned six slaves. The house was sold to Matthew Robinson, Johnston’s stepfather, in 1766. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the house was owned by African-American businessman Armstead Hurley and was used as an investment rental property. 

Hopkins House ca 1740: 46 Division Street. The Reverend Samuel Hopkins was an early Newport abolitionist first speaking out from his pulpit against slavery before the Revolution. He was an influential friend and mentor of Sarah Osborn, an early white school teacher of Black students. He was also a friend of African Newport Gardner. Hopkins and the Reverend Ezra Stiles collaborated on plans to educate former slaves Bristol Yamma and John Quamino to Africa as missionaries at Princeton College, just prior to the Revolution. Both pastors supported efforts by the African population to obtain education and a degree of independence.

Bours House, c. 1765: 47 Division Street. The house was rented out after 1767 by the owners, the widow of Peter Bours and her second husband, the Reverend Samuel Fayerweather of Narragansett. An early school to instruct Negro children in reading and sewing were conducted here with a Mrs. Brett as the instructress. Records of the African Union Society indicate a worship service meeting held in the house of Peter Bours here in 1781. Newport Gardner is said to have given music lessons in this house as well possibly in the garret. These various sources indicate the house may have been rented by individuals interested in the African cultural cause in the years prior to the Revolution and after.

Union Congregational Church, 1781: 49 Division Street. Purchased by the Union Colored Church, founded by members of the African Union Society (founded 1780), the oldest African American cultural organization in the nation, in 1835 for use after the congregation outgrew the first church building constructed at the southwest corner of Division and Church Streets ca.1825 (no longer extant). Three additional African-American churches formed from the Union Congregational Church in the 19-century: African Methodist Episcopal Church 1845, Shiloh Baptist Church 1864, and Mount Olivet Baptist Church 1897.

Norton Wilbor House, c 1811: 77 Division Street. Federal style house once owned by African-American businessman John Mowatt prior to 1850.

Ichabod Northup-Solomon Fry House: 82 Division Street. Black Revolutionary War patriot Northup built the house circa 1806. It was sold to Black abolitionist Solomon Fry in 1833.

John Mowatt House, c. 1818. 83 Division Street. Federal house owned by African-American businessman John Mowatt in 1818. Mowatt was a grocer by trade and a trustee of the Union Colored Church.

Upper Thames Street: Site of small-scale slave auctions, African election days, and the shops of key craftsmen employing slaves as artisans prior to the Revolution.

Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Boulevard

In 1994, to honor his many accomplishments, West Broadway became Wheatland Boulevard, making it the first street in Rhode Island officially named for an African American. Learn more about Wheatland here: http://www.riheritagehalloffame.org/inductees_detail.cfm?iid=828

# Community Baptist Church:  Dr. Marcus Wheatland Blvd. A merger of Mt. Olivet and Shiloh Baptist Churches.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center: 20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Boulevard.  Founded in 1922 as the Newport Community Center, it transitioned to the King Center in 1968. 

 

Elizabeth Street

Nellie Brown’s Rest Home, c.1850: 7-9 Elizabeth Street/3 Centre Street. The building was a boarding house mostly for African Americans working at the nearby hotels in the mid-late 19th century under the proprietorship of Nathan Barker. In the 20th century it became a part of African American Nellie Brown’s rest home complex which included similar boarding houses on Brinley Street, nearby on adjoining property. The building was severely damaged by fire.

Farewell Street

White Horse Tavern, prior to 1693: 16 Farewell Street. Prior to the Revolution, Benjamin Nichols was the proprietor. In 1774, Nichols is listed as holding four slaves - some of whom were employed in the tavern as domestics.

Great Friends Meeting House: (1699). Farewell & Marlborough Street. From 1905 to the early 1970s an important meeting place for the Black community and where the Martin Luther King Center was founded.

https://newporthistory.org/properties/great-friends-meeting-house/

Negro ‘Lections: Corner of Thames and Farewell Streets was the site each June of a symbolic election of a Negro Governor beginning in 1756. 

Almy-Taggert House, c.1710: 56 Farewell Street. The house was owned by Walter Challoner in the mid-late eighteenth century. In 1774, Walter Challoner held six slaves. He is listed as a sheriff in the 1774 census and is known to have invested briefly in the slave trade in the mid-18century. African Americans Hannah and Susan Chalôner, living in Levin Street in the 1840s, were descendants of Walter Challoner’s slaves.

+ God’s Little Acre: Farewell and Warner Streets. In 1705 the northern section of the Common Burying Ground is established for people of African descent. It is later known to the Black community as “God’s Little Acre.” Many of the slate headstones are carved by the John Stevens shop, several identified as the work of Pompe Stevens a Black stone carver. Among the African Americans buried here are Duchess Quamino, Newport Gardner’s wife and two of his children, and Arthur Flagg. God’s Acre is the last remaining sizable 18th century burying place of African Americans in the nation that retains its integrity.

Newport Slave Trade Memorial (future site): Liberty Square, Farewell and Marlborough Streets. Follow the Newport Middle Passage project here: http://newportmiddlepassage.org/

Fillmore Court

 

Glover’s Boarding House, c.1850: 7-9 Fillmore Court. In the early twentieth century the building was owned by African American businessmanThomas Glover, who owned rental property throughout Newport. The rooms were occupied by African Americans who were employed at the nearby resort hotels.

Jenkins Garage, c.1870: 16 & 20 Fillmore Court, These commercial /residential buildings were used as the site of African Americans James and Ellen Jenkins’ oil and transportation business in the early to mid-twentieth century.

 

Nellie Brown House, early to mid-nine teenth century: 26 Fillmore Court. Served as the residence in the mid-twentieth century of African-American Nellie Brown, the owner of Nellie Brown’s Rest Home nearby Elizabeth, Brinley Street area.

Franklin Street

 

John Gidley aka Holly Tree Coffee House, c.1740: 20, 22 Franklin Street. Owned prior to 1744 by John Gidley, an early rum distillery owner c.1732. After Gidley’s death in1744, the house was occupied by Captain John Jepson who undertook slaving voyages in 1735, 1736, 1738, 1743, 1745, 1749, 1750, and 1752. In 1745, Jepson was in command of the slave ship Bonetta owned by John Thurston. In the early twentieth century, the commercial first floor was occupied by the Holly Tree Coffee House operated by African American businessman Daniel Arthur Smith, who moved to Newport from Washington, D.C. after the Civil War. The Holly Tree Coffee House was one of many African American cultural institutionswithin Newport during the period. Smith later opened a restaurant in his home on Mary Street.

Friendship Street

Lindsay Walker House: c. 1890. 63 Friendship Street. The house and adjoining property to the corner of Kay Street has been occupied by the Walker family for three generations. Lindsay Walker, a partner in the Black-owned Rhode Island Loan and Investment Company, purchased the house and property from the Chase family in 1891.

 

Walker House, c. 1925: 65 Friendship Street. Early twentieth century multiple dwelling built by the Walker family and enlarged over time as a rental property.

Eleanor Walker Keyes House: 85 Friendship Street. Keyes was active in the NAACP, the RI Black Heritage Society, and worked to promote an understanding of African American heritage in Newport schools.

Guinn Street

Richard B. King House, mid-nineteenth century: 7 Guinn Court. Occupied by Richard B. King, a successful African American businessman in the early twentieth century. King operated a coffee shop on William Street during the period.

Heath Street

Easton-Shay House, c.1870,1876: 1 Heath Street. Occupied by African American John P. Easton and Mary Shea in the mid 1870s. Heath Street in the late 19th and 20th centuries was a Black residential enclave. John P. Easton is listed in the city directories as a coachman.

 

Barney House, c.1845: 4 Heath Street. Occupied by Benjamin Barney, an African American. His widow, Marcy Ann Barney, is listed in the 1867 city directory.

 

John T. Bush House, 1859/1870: 5 Heath Street. Owned by African American businessman Armstead Hurley in the early twentieth century and was presumably a rental investment property.

John Street

Constant Tabor House, c.1750, 1803: 47 John Street. In 1803 it housed the Six Principles Baptist Church. In 1894, the church sold the house to the Reverend Mahlon van Horne, a prominent African American, pastor of the Union Congregational Church. He retired from this position in 1896 when he was appointed US Counsel to St. Thomas, West Indies by President William McKinley. Van Home was the first Black person to serve on the Newport School Committee, and the first African American to serve in the Rhode Island legislature. The house was later occupied by his son Alonzo van Home, a dentist. Learn more about Rev. van Horne here: http://www.riheritagehalloffame.com/inductees_detail.cfm?crit=det&iid=527

Weeden House, 1825: 84 John Street. Owned by Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland, a well-respected late-19th and early twentieth century African-American physician who specialized in early X-Ray technology and application. Wheatland owned the house in 1907. He died in 1934. He maintained his practice from the house for 40 years.

 

Johnson Court

 

Old African Methodist Episcopal Church, c.1851-53: 3 Johnson Court. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed within the Union Congregational Church community in 1845. Early religious meetings were held on Spring Street in a former carpentry shop just to the West of the Union Congregational Church building Old Salt Box at 122-126 Spring Street. The church remained at Johnson Court until 1875, when it purchased the dining room of the Ocean House on Bellevue Avenue (no longer extant) for its estimated congregation of 350. By 1890 the church was known as Mount Zion A.M.E. Church.

Peter Wheelbanks’​ Slaughterhouse, c.18508 Johnson Court. Purchased in 1860 by Peter Wheelbanks, a prominent Black grocer who advertised extensively in Newport city directories of the 1860s and 1870s, it was used as a slaughterhouse. Wheelbanks lived on Kingston Avenue near Warner Street in 1867.

John H. Vemon House, c.1858: 10 Johnson Court. John H. Fisher was an African American whose widow, Elizabeth, lived in the house in the mid-late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Riggs and Booth Tenement, 1893,1907: 14 Johnson Court. Provided housing for African Americans living in the neighborhood during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This was the birthplace of Paul Gaines, Newport and Rhode Island’s first African American mayor.

Kay Street

Louis Walker House, c 1921: 98 Kay Street. House built by Louis Walker as a 3- family dwelling. Adjacent to the house is a rusticated concrete block garage also built by Walker. Both buildings were designed and built by Louis Walker on property purchased from his father Lindsay Walker, completing a compound of family homes and rental property within the block.

Kingston Avenue

G. Lawton House aka Pearl Douglas Beauty Shop, c.1780: 18 Kingston Avenue. African-American Pearl Douglas established her beauty shop in the building in the early to mid-twentieth century here as one of several Kingston Avenue businesses which serviced the African American and ethnic Kerry Hill Neighborhood. 

 

Simmons House, c.1810: 20 Kingston Avenue. Occupied by 1830 by Cuff Simmons, a free African American laborer, and sometime after 1842 by African-Americans Edward Simmons, a blacksmith, his wife Elizabeth Simmons, and two related boarders, Henry Simmons, a hack driver, and John Simmons, a house painter. These individuals are recorded in the 1867 city directory. 

Nancy Eldridge House, c.1859: 29 Kingston Avenue. Occupied by African-American Miss Nancy Eldridge in 1867 and 1876 atlas map and city directory. The house was later owned by William Bradford, a well-known local African American who lived in the house after 1929. 

C. Smith House, c.1859. Occupied in the mid-to-late nineteenth century by a Constant Smith, a laborer and later a clerk. The Ray family a locally prominent African-American family occupied the house in the 1920s. Joseph T. Ray, listed as a watchman in the 1907 city directory, was a veteran of the Civil War serving the Union Army in the 118th Infantry. He was also a member of the Board of Stewards of the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church for over 40 years. 

Bobby Robinson’s Store, c.1845: 42 Kingston Avenue. The Black-owned Robinson’s variety store was popular in the early to-mid-twentieth century. 

 

Henry Johnson House, c.1845: 55,57 Kingston Avenue. Henry Johnson, a Black farmer, lived in the house in 1867. Catherine Johnson, widow of Henry was living in the house in 1876. In 1883, Samuel C. Johnson, a laborer, was living at 57 Kingston Avenue, a William R. Johnson was living at 55 Kingston Avenue. In 1921 Amelia A. Johnson, widow of William R. Johnson was living at 55 Kingston Avenue.

Levin Street

 

Birthplace of Shiloh Baptist Church: 73 Levin Street, Home of African American Esther Brinley in 1864.

 

Marlborough Street

Quaker Meeting House, 1700: 30 Marlborough Street. The first anti-slavery statement was made here in 1717 by Quaker Jamer Farmer, who as disowned by the Friends for presenting it without permission. In 1733, the now staunchly abolitionist Society permitted the printing of Elihu Coleman's tract "A Testimony Against that Anti-Christian Practice of Making Slaves of Men." 

Marsh Street

Captain Simeon Potter House, c. 1723: 37 Marsh Street. With an insatiable greed, Potte tried to pack as many slaves as possible into whatever space was available. In some instances, slaves, lacking air and space, were literally crushed and smothered.  Occasionally slave ships were so overloaded that they sank. Read more here: 

https://www.visitrhodeisland.com/listing/captain-simeon-potter-house/1871/ 

Mary Street

Christopher Fowler House, c.1801: 29 Mary Street. Fowler entered a business partnership with Audley Clarke in the early 19th century, distilling rum and trading in slaves from Howard Wharf. Between 1804 and 1807, the partnership financed slaving voyages accounting for the transport of 767 slaves. The house was later occupied by Daniel A. Smith, an African-American who moved to Newport after the Civil War from Washington, DC. Smith was living in the house in 1893. Smith operated the Holly Tree Coffee House on Franklin Street, then a restaurant in the Bateman Building and later dining rooms at his house in Mary Street. His son, Daniel A. Smith, Jr., was born in Newport in 1881, trained as a physician and established a practice in Wilmington, Del. before moving back to Newport in 1931. Daniel A. Smith, Jr. occupied the house until his death in 1971. 

                                         

 

                                       

 

 


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Mill Street

Alexander Jack, Jr. House: 49 Mill Street. The house is attributed in ownership to Alexander Jack, Jr., a cordwainer, presumably related to a family of free Africans who are recorded as living in Newport in the mid-1770s. 

Joshua Sayer House and Bakery, 1807: 62 Mill Street. Owned by Joshua Sayer, a baker, in 1810. The house was the home of African-American Mrs. Edward 0. Nelson in the early twentieth century.

 

John D. Johnston Mill, aka J. T. O’Connell Mill, c.1900: 75 Mill Street. A millworks shop and small lumber mill operation for the J.T. O’Connell Company, a source of employment for African-Americans in the early-to-mid-twentieth century * 

 

First Congregational Church, c.1729: 83 Mill Street. In the late eighteenth century, this was the platform for the Reverend Samuel Hopkins’ early abolitionist sermons and where Newport Gardner and other Africans were given religious services. 

Robert Lawton House, c.1809: 118 Mill Street. Lawton was a successful Newport sea captain and merchant who was involved in the slave trade after the Revolution.

 

John Tillinghast House, c.1758: 142 Mill Street. The house was purchased by George Gibbs in 1803 and remained in the Gibbs family until 1874. George Gibbs employed African American Isaac Rice as a gardener for this property and the associated land which later became Touro Park across Mill Street. Rice is reputed to have planted several of the specimen trees in the park.

Memorial Boulevard West/Levin Street

 

Noah Barker House, c.1790: 20 Memorial Boulevard West. Owned in the late nineteenth century by Silas Dickerson, a local African American entrepreneur who owned and operated a neighbor hood grocery store nearby on William Street as well as several rental properties. 

 

Silas Dickerson House, c.1850: 28 Memorial Boulevard West. Owned by African-American businessman Silas Dickerson in the 1870s and later. (see above) He was Chairman of the Board of the Union Congregational Church during the construction of the present church structure on Division Street in the early 1870s. His wife, Mary, operated a dressmaking shop on Bellevue Avenue. Mary H. Dickerson was influential in the establishment of the Women’s Newport League, a Black women’s organization, as well as the Rhode Island State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1903. 

 

Pompey Brinley House Site, aka P. White House, prior to 1813: 32, 34 Memorial Boulevard West. Owned by Pompey Brinley’s heirs in the mid-late nineteenth century and presumably the site where Esther Brinley, Pompey Brinley’s widow, hosted an organizational meeting for the founding of the Shiloh Baptist Church in 1864. Pompey Brinley died in 1813. The house was demolished in 1997.

Mill Street

 

Alexander Jack House. Jack may have been a mulatto man born to an African mother and British soldier. He is listed as a Cordwinder in the late 18th century.

Osborne Court/Church Court

Sarah Osborn House, prior to 1770: Unit 3 Osborne Court. This house was occupied prior to and during the Revolution by Sarah Osborn, a white religious leader and school teacher, who held mixed classes for white and African children and was a friend and colleague of the Reverend Samuel Hopkins. During the religious revival of the mid-1760s, Osborn hosted religious meetings for the African community and is reported to have had over 500 Africans attending at one time.

Pearl Street/Spruce Court

Nancy Eldridge House, prior to 1850: 14 Pearl Street, Owned by African America Nancy Eldridge in 1876. In the 1880s and 90s, the house may have been occupied by African American Charles Fayerweather, a blacksmith whose business was located in Kingston Avenue. 

 

Nelson Taylor House, prior to 1850: 26 Pearl Street. Occupied by African-American Nelson Taylor, a white-washer painter, in the 1860s and 1870s. 

Pelham Street

John Banister Townhouse, 1751-54: 56 Pelham Street, Owned Merchant/smuggler and slaver John Banister and occupied during the Revolution by British General Prescott. Local tradition states it was here that African Quarco Honeyman aka Jack Sisson was employed as a servant and rebel and informer during the Revolution. His information on Prescott’s movements later assisted in the General’s ignominious capture in Portsmouth. 

Pond Avenue

George Triplett House, c. 1870: 14 Pond Avenue. Occupied by the Triplett family in the twentieth century. A son, Ernest Triplett ran a well-known catering service in Newport.

 

Pope Street

Pope Street in Newport appears on maps as early as 1777, delineating the southern boundary of the developed town. It was likely named for Capt. Francis Pope, Abraham Redwood’s sailing master and son-in-law. Often referred to in the 18th century as “Negro Lane,” Pope Street became an early neighborhood of former enslaved and free African Americans. Prominent property owners included musician and educator Newport Gardner and Salmar Nubia, both men were early members of the Free African Union Society (founded in 1780). Gardner and Nubia became involved in a movement to return to Africa. On the last day of December 1825 they set sail for what is now known as Liberia on the Brig Vine, arriving on February 6, 1826. Other residents on Pope Street included Bacchus Overing and his son Paul Overing. Bacchus’ will of 1799 states that he was a free man and a distiller, and bequeaths his property on Pope Street to Paul.

Salmar Nubia House, c.1800: 21 Pope Street, Owned in the late eighteenth and early 19th-century by African Salmar Nubia aka Jack Mason, friend of Newport Gardner and a member of the African Union Society. In 1789, Nubia was a first representative and secretary of the society, recorded to be living on Pope Street as early as 1790. He lived there until 1825 when he sold his property to Benjamin Taylor and joined Newport Gardner to return to Africa. In the 1825 deed, Newport Gardner is listed as the eastern abuttor. 

 

Newport Gardner House, c.1810: 25 Pope Street, Owned and occupied by African Newport Gardner (Occramar Marycoo) prior to 1825. The building appears to have been extensively rebuilt in the mid-to-late 19th-century. 

 

Bacchus and Paul Overing House, c.1810: 29 Pope Street. Owned by African American Bacchus Overing in the early 19th-century. Overing died in 1819 and was a "free blackman and a distiller." Paul Overing inherited the house at this time and is listed as a cook living on Pope Street in the 1858 city directory. He was a member of the African Union Society until he was dismissed in 1810 for not paying his dues. 

 

Elliot-Armstrong House, c.1810: 38 Pope Street, Owned by African-American Lincoln Elliot in the 1790s. Peter Armstrong is listed as living in Pope Street on the north side in the 1840 census and may have been living here by 1820. Armstrong was a mariner and insolvent when he died in 1851. Peter Armstrong was a member of the African Union Society in 1789.

Poplar Street

Zingo Stevens House: 51 Poplar Street. An African Stonecutter/Stone Mason who worked in the John Stevens shop is one of two known stonecutters who cut stones for the African community for God's Little Acre. He was a founding member of the Free African Union Society.

Prospect Hill Street

William Stanley Braithwaite House, c.1750-60: 128 Prospect Hill Street. Occupied by African-American poet and literary critic William Stanley Braithwaite in the early to mid twentieth century. 

 

Jackson House: 154 Prospect Hill Street. Occupied by William H. Jackson, Sr. at the time of his death in 1946. Jackson was involved in the late 19th-century in local and state politics. He was employed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives as sergeant-at-arms for over two decades, both at the Colony House in Newport and later after 1900 at the State House in Providence. He was an active member of the city’s representative council from the Second Ward and active in local Republican political circles. In 1932, he was appointed a sergeant-at-arms to serve at the Republican national convention in Chicago. 

 

Bellevue Avenue Hotel, c.1870. 157-159 Prospect Hill Street. These buildings composed the Bellevue Avenue Hotel and Garden cin the mid to late 19th-century. The complex represents one of a few remaining hotels and boarding houses of the nineteenth century which employed African-Americans as domestics, porters and waiters.  

Queen Anne Square

Trinity Church 1725-6: One Queen Anne Square. In 1763 the church opened a school for African children under the supervision of Rev. Marmaduke Brown.

School Street

 

Isaac Babcock House, c.1825,1850: 15 School Street. Owned by Babcock, a free African-American listed as a gardener on the 1858 city directory. Babcock was instrumental in acquiring the Fourth Baptist Meeting House in Division Street for use as the Union Congregational Church with African-Americans Isaac Rice, John Mowatt, Francis Chaloner, and Benjamin Weeden, among others. 

William Ellery Channing House, c.1750: 24 School Street. Birthplace of William Ellery Channing. Also the home of Charity "Duchess" Quamino (1753-1804), the slave cook of Channing's father, William, known as "The Pastry Queen of Rhode Island" for her extraordinary baking skills. In 1780 she bought her freedom selling baked goods and later her children's. Her frosted plum cake was highly regarded, and twice she served her cakes to George Washington. Once free, she continued using Channing's ovens for her baking business. In 1769 she married African slave John Quamino who was chosen by the Reverends Hopkins and Stiles for African missionary work, and educated briefly at Princeton, making him the first African to attend college in America. He died in the Revolutionary War. Duchess is buried in God's Little Acre. Her headstone reads: "Intelligent, Industrious, Affectionate, Honest and of Exemplary Piety Who deceased June 29, 1804, aged 65 Years."

Trinity Church School House aka Shiloh Baptist Church and Parsonage, 1799: 25, 29 School Street. The site was occupied as early as 1741 by a school for poor children endowed by Nathaniel Kay. The original school house is said to have been burned and / or demolished during the Revolution. Whether or not this building is the structure utilized for the education of African children prior to the Revolution is conjectural. A school established by the Associates of Doctor Bray, was run by Marmaduke Brown, may have been in this building. Likewise a free school for Blacks is said to have been in existence in the vicinity under the direction of Mrs. Mary Brett in 1773. The African American Shiloh Baptist Church (born out of the Union Congregational Church in the late 1864) occupied the building in 1868. Organizational meetings were held in the home of Esther Brinley on Levin Street. Reverend Henry Jeter was Shiloh's most well-known pastors in the late 19th century and published "Pastor Henry N. Jeter's Twenty-five Years Experience with the Shiloh Baptist Church and Her History" in 1901.

Second Street

Nathaniel Rodman House, c.1717: 13 Second Street. The house (originally on Warner Street) was occupied by African American Nathaniel Rodman who was freed after the Revolution. Rodman helped organize the African Benevolent Society in the early 19th century to provide educational facilities for the African American community. 

Slave Markets

There were slave markets at the corners of Mill and Spring Streets, North Baptist and Thames Streets, and the Brick Market Building

Spring Street

William and Abraham Redwood House, c.1759: 69 Spring Street. The Redwood family in Newport held slaves and, prior to the Revolution, Abraham Redwood held more slaves than any other merchant in Newport, largely due to ownership of a sugar plantation, the Cassada Garden Plantation in Antigua. Redwood financed at least one slaving voyage in 1739-40 and owned the slaver Martha and Jane. In 1766, Abraham Redwood owned 238 slaves. 

John Odlin House, after 1705: 109, 111 Spring Street. The house was occupied by Jonathan Otis, a Newport goldsmith who held three slaves in 1774. 

 

Bull-Mawdsley House, c.1680: 228 Spring Street. In 1774, Captain Mawdsley owned twenty slaves, presumably employed in the marine trades or hired out for other work. He owned at least one slave vessel. In 1795 after Mawdsley’s death, the house was purchased by slave ship captain and prosperous merchant Caleb Gardner who had owned African Newport Gardner until the latter was granted freedom in 1791.

Thames Street

Liberty Tree Park aka William Ellery Park, 19th century: Intersection Thames/Farewell Streets, AP 17, Lot 18. This small 18th century triangular park formed by the intersection of Thames and Farewell Streets, was used for annual election day gatherings of the 18th century African slave community. By the mid-1750s, Newport slaves were allowed to hold elections for a Black governor. In Rhode Island, slave elections were held the third or last Saturday in June. Elections were significant local social events within the community and included parades, dancing and general celebration in addition to voting into office a community leader for the year. "‘Lection" days occurred throughout New England and within slave communities in North America. They were important as holidays which could be celebrated by Africans in fellowship - allowed by the authority of the white community. 

 

John Stevens Shop, c.1757: 29 Thames Street. The earliest records indicate the business was underway by 1705 elsewhere and located here after 1757. In 1774, John Stevens III, stone mason and carpenter, held one slave. Evidence of the work of the shop indicates that African slave Pompe Stevens aka Zingo Stevens, (changed presumably upon achieving freedom prior to 1800) worked at the shop and produced at least two signed headstones in God's Little Acre, one for a fellow slave, his brother, Cuffe Gibbs, in the late 18th century. In 1802, he was president of the African Union Society. In the early 19th century, Zingo Stevens was living in the Point section in his own home near the corner of Third and Poplar Streets.

Dr. Henry Jackson House and Mount Olivet Baptist Church, c.1840: 79 Thames Street. The Mount Olivet Baptist Church was formed as a spin-off of Shiloh Baptist church in 1894. The Church occupied this location by 1897 and the present facility was built as an addition to the Greek Revival house located here. The local chapter of the NAACP was organized here by the Reverend William James Lucas, pastor of Mount Olivet in 1919. By 1927, there was a regulation size tennis court in the backyard of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. See article here: http://www.gildedageincolor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Tennis_artc.gif

 

Francis Malbone House, c.1758: 392 Thames Street. Built for Francis Malbone, a cousin of Godfrey Malbone, and also a successful slave ship captain, slave trader and merchant. In 1774, Francis Malbone owned ten slaves. In 1755, Malbone was captain of the slaver Othello. He was a merchant owner of slave ships, an importer of rum and molasses and a rum distillery owner. According to tax records, in 1772, he was one of the wealthiest of the Newport merchant princes. 

 

Hunter-Whitehorne House, c.1750: 428-432 Thames Street. Hunter operated a rum distillery on the property during the mid to-late 18th century. In 1774, Hunter owned five slaves, presumably employed in the distillery. In 1771, Newport merchants Aaron Lopez and Jacob Riverapur chased 20,069 gallons of rum for their slaver Cleopatra from fourteen different distilleries. Among the three largest orders was that of Henry Hunter - 1,998 gallons. In this voyage, 257 slaves were purchased and transported to Barbados, a large number for a single venture.

 

Store/House, 18th century: 479-481 Thames Street. In 1774, Henry John Overing held eight slaves and was involved in a rum distillery operation possibly connected with this property. African Paul Overing may have been one of Henry Overing’s slaves prior to the Revolution. 

 

Site of Honeyman Wharf Slave Pen, mid-l8th century: 315-317 Thames Street: According to George Richardson’s 1952 notes, a slave pen stood on this site in a much altered, square, two-story, hip-roofed house on the West side of Thames. 

 

Thomas Street 

 

Rice Homestead, c.1815: 24 Thomas Street. Continuously owned by the African American Rice family since construction, the house is associated with 54 William Street on the adjoining property. The first occupant of the house, Isaac Rice, was the free stepson of Caesar Bonner who built the house. Born in 1792 in the Narragansett Country, he moved with his family to Newport in the early 19th century. Rice was one of Newport’s earliest Black entrepreneurs, developing a well-known catering business in Cotton Court off Thames Street. He was also a gardener and employed by the Gibbs family in landscaping their estate on Mill Street, a portion of which became Touro Park. Rice was involved with the African Union Society and African Benevolent Society. The homestead was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglass stayed at the house in 1843 when he visited Rhode Island to speak on behalf of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. William Lloyd Garrison and Sojourner Truth were also guests.

Touro Street

Touro Dining Rooms (Perry Mansion) c.1757: 29 Touro Street.  African-American brothers J. T. and H. L. Allen opened  this restaurant and catering concern here around 1894. They also ran the highly successful Hygeia Spa at Easton’s Beach.

* Touro Synagogue: 72 Touro Street. This stop on the Underground Railroad was ironically built by slaves.

Newport Historical Society Building and Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House, 1730: 82 Touro Street. African Americans worshipped in the building during the 18th century, possibly in the east gallery. Later, from 1864-69 the building was occupied by the African American Shiloh Baptist Church.

Van Zandt Ave

 

Mt. Zion AME Church: 31-33 Van Zandt Avenue. Founded 1857.

Vernon Avenue

 

Barclay-Stokes House, c. 1875: 25 Vernon Avenue. The property is associated with African American George Barclay and his descendants, who have occupied this home for four generations.

Walnut Street

John Gidley House aka Davenport House, c.1728:  22 Walnut Street. In the 1720s, John Gidley, Jr. owned one of Newport’s first rum distilleries. 

 

William  Wanton House, c.1770: 25 Walnut Street. The Wantons, a prominent Newport merchant family, were involved in the slave trade as early as the mid-1700s, owning the slave ships Charming Abigail, Polly, Africa, Ruth, Wanton, and Fortune prior to the Revolution.

 

Sarah Rumereil House, prior to 1758: 28 Walnut Street. In 1774, Sarah Rumereil held three slaves. According to Richardson, Ebenezer Rumereil owned a dry goods business prior to the Revolution.

 

Joseph Belcher House, 1760/70: 36 Walnut Street. Joseph Belcher, a pewterer, owned the house between 1770 and 1777. In 1774, Belcher owned four slaves, some of whom may have been employed in his pewter manufacturing business.

 

Thurston House, c.1734 : 41 Walnut Street. The house (originally located on Long Wharf) belonged to former African slave Neptune Thurston. Thurston was a cooper by trade, possibly learning the craft from the Baptist minister Gardner Thurston, a cooper by trade and a member of the prominent slave trading Thurston family. Gardner Thurston refused to make casks for the African rum trade and supported the Reverend Samuel Hopkins’ abolitionist stand. Thurston gave noted Rhode Island painter Gilbert Stuart his first painting lessons.

Warner Street

Benjamin Stevens House, aka William A. Jackson House, c.1800: 14 Warner Street. In the early to-mid-twentieth century the house was occupied by African American William A. Jackson and his family. Jackson owned a moving company, the Jackson Moving Company, during this period.

W. Mathews Building aka Jacob Dorsey Confectionery Shop, c.1907: 29 Warner Street. African-American Jacob Dorsey operated a confectionery, bakery and shop here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Dorsey came to Newport from Maryland in 1851 at the age of 30. City directories place him as a whitewasher at 29 Warner Street in the 1880s and 1890s. City directories indicate the confectionery business existed into the early twentieth century.

Luke Waldron House, c. 1778,: 43 Warner Street. Walrond, the first minister of the Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, purchased this house in 1853 and remained in the family until 1883.

Washington Square

Old Colony House: 1739. Skilled Africans helped construct this building. In 1772, the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Rhode Island formally denounced slavery, jumpstarting the Abolitionist movement among their membership, the majority religion of the colony and based at the Great Friends Meeting House. This process spread to secular and political circles resulting in one of the first legislative acts to control the slave trade in America. At the June 1774 session of the General Assembly, held at the Newport Colony House, it was voted to pass an “Act prohibiting the importation of Negroes into this colony.” 
 

Potter-Minturn House, prior to 1758: 53 Washington Street. Owned by slave owner James Potter before the Revolution.

 

Hunter House, prior to 1758: 54 Washington Street. Occupied by Deputy Governor Jonathan Nichols, Jr. in the late 1740s. Nichols was a prosperous merchant, proprietor of the White Horse Tavern and a privateer. The house was purchased by Col.Joseph Wanton, Jr. in 1756. Wanton was Deputy Governor of the Colony between 1764 and 1767. A few years after, the Wanton estates in Newport were confiscated and both father and son died by 1781. The Wantons, a prominent Newport merchant family, were involved in the slave trade as early as the mid-1700s, owning the slave ships Charming Abigail, Polly, Africa, Ruth, Wanton, and Fortune prior to  the Revolution. In 1774, Joseph Wanton had three slaves. Among those boarding after the Civil War was Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Union Army Black Regiment commander and abolitionist. Col. Higginson assisted African American entrepreneur George T. Downing in a successful fight to desegregate the Newport public schools in the late 1860s. Downing.

Saint John the Evangelist Church 1875: 61 Washington Street. The church first gathered in the home of Black couple Peter and Harriet Quire on Third Street in 1875.

Army Navy YMCA: Washington Square - "Duke" Hawkins, the handsome young Black man who waited tables at the YMCA restaurant was embroiled in the 1919-21 Naval gay sex scandal.

Filming of Amistad: Washington Square. In the film Amistad,

Washington Square stands in for the New Haven Green, the

Colony House serves as the courthouse. The film crew used the first floor of the Colony House for staging, while the second and third floors became the court. Secondary locations included Queen Anne Square and Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Newport’s Point neighborhood. 

Williams Street

Isaac Rice Homestead: 54 William Street. (See Rice above)

Bowen's Wharf: America's Cup Avenue at Treadway Inn. The most active slave port on the East Coast during Newport's "Golden Age," 1700-1750. The first slave ship arrived here in 1696 to sell sell four Africans. 

Goat Island

Fort George, 1700s: Cuffee Cockroach, celebrated cook for Jahleel Breton, Newport's first caterer, nourished a large family of wealthy merchant traders and their servants. For many years, the family hosted a “turtle frolic” on Goat Island to celebrate the winter solstice. Hundreds of people came to the festive event; Cockroach’s sea turtle stew was a delicious attraction. It was served with the family’s finest silver and porcelain, brought to the island by boat.Cuffee Cockroach: 

turtle stew for a community gathering held at Fort George, on Goat Island. The “Turtle Frolic” became an annual celebration.

Much of the above is taken from Richard C. Youngken's "African Americans in Newport." For more, visit: http://www.preservation.ri.gov/pdfs_zips_downloads/survey_pdfs/newport_afam.pdf

Tiverton

 

The 1757 town census which included 99 Negroes and 99 Indians, most of whom worked as slaves on farms for the Newport market.

William Durfee Farm, late 17th century: 2794 Main Road: Known at "the Egypt of Tiverton’’ this well-preserved complex, with a handsome house, includes a stone cookhouse and other stone buildings for slaves.

Nathaniel Briggs-Manchester-Beattie House, pre-1777; 68 Indian Point Road. Briggs, a  slave trader, built the house which today is surrounded by a mid-2Oth-century housing development. There, is a large outbuilding at the rear of the lot. The south part of the house is the oldest. The northern service end was built to replace an earlier kitchen and slave quarters.

Little Compton

+ Slave Row: Old Commons Burial Grounds, 33 Commons. Historically known as the Negro Burying Ground, it contains six gravestones of Little Compton African Americans. Following a ground-penetrating radar study performed in 2018 that revealed a number of unmarked graves near Slave Row, the Little Compton Historical Society installed a memorial to commemorate the more than 200 men, women and children, mostly Africans, who were enslaved in Little Compton from 1674 to 1816. Among those buried here are Primus Collins, "the negro governor," his with Elizabeth and daughter Lucy.

New Shoreham / Block Island

 

Fred Benson Town Beach: 7 Corn Neck Road. Named for the Island's only Black resident, Benson lived there for 85 years. He operated operated the Motor Vehicle Department in addition to his real estate business, was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, vice president of the Island's blood bank, the Island civil defense director for 12 years, police commissioner, first captain of the local Rescue Squad, president of the Chamber of Commerce five times, and Island Man of the Year. Read more here: 

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-05-23-vw-23560-story.html

Other Interesting Sites to Visit:

Rhode Island Slave History Medallions: https://rishm.org

RI Slave Trade Records - Rhode Island Historical Society:  

https://www.rihs.org/library/slavetrade/ 

http://newportmiddlepassage.org/

This is by no means an exhaustive guide; it will continue to be updated as new sites are discovered. If you know of a site with strong Rhode Island African American connections not already included, or see any errors, please email the details to: StagesofFreedom@aol.com

 

Stages of Freedom · 10 Westminster Street · Providence, RI 02903 · (401) 421-0606