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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

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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.


* 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



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.



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:

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 a prominent anti-slavery advocate.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: Intersection of South Main Street and Mason Street. Created by Riverzedge Arts.



*Underground Railroad Site: 45 Broad Street. 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. Here in the Currier House they operated the main stop on the Underground Railroad in Rhode Island during the 1840s and 1850s. Although the house no longer exists, there is a historical marker across the street from the property just north of Town Hall and beside a bus stop that resembles a train depot. Visit:

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:

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.




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:

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.)



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:



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.



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)

Cuff Slocum, enslaved in Newport prior to 1842, and owned by Ebenezer Slocum. In 1762 Cuff Slocum, by then a free man (ca. 1745), purchased a 156-acre property in the village of Glocester for £90 from Nicholas Lapham, a resident of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where Cuff lived. It is not clear why he purchased this property; perhaps to be a property owner and because it was a relatively inexpensive purchase. It appears that Cuff never engaged in any farming or woodcutting activities on this land and may not even have visited it.

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. 


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.



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: 

+ Dolly Walmsley (later changed to Onsley) is buried in Pocasset cemetery. Born as Dolly Smith in Connecticut in 1827 to a Black father named Ira Smith and Native American mother, she married Samuel Judson Onsley, moved to Johnston and had between them thirteen children. Learn more here:,33598  and

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.)

Viola Davis Way: Summer Street in Central Falls was named for actress “Viola Davis Way” in 2016 and leads to Central Falls High School, where Davis attended.



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.

George Wiley Center: 32 East Avenue. Named for Warwick native, George Wiley, who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and later founded the National Welfare Rights Organization.

Learn more here:

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

John Carter Minkins House: 345 Glenwood Avenue, Pawtucket.

The two-story, ca. 1900, Colonial Revival-style residence at 345 Glenwood Avenue in Pawtucket is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion B for its associations with journalist and civil rights activist John Carter Minkins (1869–1959). Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Minkins moved to Rhode Island in the 1890s and worked as a reporter and editor for various newspapers in Providence and Pawtucket. He became editor-in-chief of the Providence News-Democrat in 1906 and is alleged to have been the first African American editor in the country at a white-owned newspaper. Minkins purchased the Rhode Island Examiner in 1911 and featured articles on segregation and discrimination in the weekly publication. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2013. Minkins and his family appear to have been the original occupants of the house on Glenwood Avenue, where he lived for over 50 years during the most productive years of his professional career. The house retains sufficient integrity to convey its historical associations.

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet Burial Site: Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery.

East Providence

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

= 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.

Wannamoisett Marker: Sits in the sidewalk beside the Silver Spring Golf Course on the west side of Pawtucket Avenue at the end of Wheeler Avenue. Marks the original boundary between the Wannamoisett section of the 1620 Pokanoket settlement of “Sowams”, purchased by John Browne from the Massasoit Ousamequin in 1643, and the town of Rehoboth. The Brownes were among the early slave holding families in the area. John Browne’s daughter, Mary, was married to Thomas Willett who listed eight "Negro slaves" in his will. John Browne’s son, James, owned at least one "Negro slave", “Matte”, that he willed to his son, Jabez. 

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:

+ 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:


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:

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:

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:

Joseph Brown House: 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. Brown both participated in the slave trade and enslaved people via his family businesses. Some of those enslaved persons lived and worked in this house. At the time of his death there were four enslaved people in the household, including Phillis, Jenny and Fortune, who lived in the attic. This house was later used as a bank, a vital contributor to the system of slavery.

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.

Providence Gazette (also called “Shakespeare’s Head"): 21 Meeting Street. Housed John Carter and his newspaper business, The Providence Gazette. It’s a place to consider the role of media in upholding slavery with ads in Rhode Island newspapers selling enslaved people and seeking help capturing “runaways,” as well as articles and images. At least two enslaved people lived and worked here, Ingow and Fanny, who were manumitted in 1789.

Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge: Bridge Rd. off South Water St. Opened to the public in August 2019 as The Providence River Pedestrian Bridge, the Providence City Council’s Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal, and Planning voted to rename the bridge in June 2020 in honor of Michael S. Van Leesten, a civil rights activist, business and community leader, athlete, and a life-long resident of the city. The Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge stands as the culmination of nearly 30 years of planning between the City of Providence and several local anchor institutions. Spanning the Providence River and connecting the neighborhood of Fox Point in the east with the Innovation and Design District in the west, the bridge serves as a community gathering place, offering performances, moments of quiet introspection, and an unparalleled view of the city’s skyline.

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:

Mary Howard Jenkins Exhibition Site: 30 Benefit Street. In 1936, artist Mary Howard, a 1933 RISD graduate, was the only woman in the state chosen to work on the RI Federal Art Project (FAP) of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In November, she exhibited here with other young artists of the FAP-WPA. Her atmospheric and memorably dark landscapes were reviewed as having a “tonic sadness." Howard’s works included prints of fishermen’s shacks, old houses on Benefit Street, and a large mural for the State House cafeteria depicting a family enjoying a picnic, described as “a delicately colored pastoral scene symbolizing the production and consumption of foodstuffs.” During the WPA years, Howard also painted a portrait of RI Gov. Theodore Francis Greene, displayed in the University of Rhode Island Library until at least the 1960s.


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:

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:

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:

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.

Daniel N. Morse (1795-1869): First Congregational Church, 301 Benefit Street. Morse was a sexton here. See church here:

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).

Cupid Brown (Stephen Harris House): Built before 1827, 306 Benefit Street (formerly 156 Benefit Street) The once enslaved Cupid Brown from South Kingstown lived here in the rear unit. Brown worked as a steward on trading vessels. His daughter, Elizabeth Howard Smith, was known in her time as "the best teacher in the city."

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:

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:

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.”

Dress Shop: 95 Benefit Street. Susan Garrison worked here as a dressmaker in the 1820s.

W. W. Joyce Tourist Home. 12 Benefit Street. Owned by Walter W. Joyce, listed in the 1939  city directory as a houseman, and his wife, Emma, who moved their boarding business here in 1947 after operating it at 24 Camp Street.

For anecdotes about Black life on Benefit Street visit:

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. Housed here from 1939-45. First known as the Crispus Attucks Association when founded in the late 1920s, the agency was reorganized in 1937 and named the John Hope Community Association in honor of John Hope, an alumnus of Brown University, the first African American President of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and a founder of the NAACP. In 1946 it moved to its present location, 7 Thomas P.  Whitten Way (named for its longest serving director). Learn more here:  

View video of plaque dedication here:

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:

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:

Richard Cozzens and Hannah Robinson Residence: 57 Benevolent Street. Cozzens fought in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment during the American Revolution. Enslavers could send their enslaved men to fight in their place. Black and Indigenous men also joined by choice, whether to support the cause of freedom or for the promise of emancipation.

Dr. Jabez Bowen House: 39 Bowen Street, Providence. Enslaved Jenny, her daughter Dinah, and Fortune lived here. Bowen provisioned slave ships with medicine and instructed slave captains how to administer the substances.

Market Square & Market House: 4 Market Square, Providence. Black laborers Pero Paget, Thomas Shoemaker, Pomp Smith and others helped build Market House beginning in 1775.

Sally Gallery at John Brown House: 52 Power Street. This exhibit tells the story of the slave ship Sally and its voyage from Providence to West Africa to Antigua and back in 1764–1765. While all slave voyages were inherently violent, this one suffered a particularly high loss of life. There was an insurrection, grave illness and even suicide. (See Esek Hopkins House)

Cathedral of St. John & Burial Ground: 271 North Main Street This cathedral, originally built as King’s Church in 1722, was funded in part by the Triangle Trade. Enslavers and enslaved people both worshiped here. It is now the site of The Center for Reconciliation, an organization dedicated to educating the public about slavery and its aftermath. You can visit the grave of an enslaved family in the adjacent burial ground; Phillis Chace, her daughter Rose, and Rose’s daughter Fanny are all memorialized with one stone. 

Welcome Arnold House: 21 Planet Street This house was the site of an ongoing legal situation. Amyntus “Mint” Martin was enslaved to a woman named Rebecca Martin. He fled her Newport home to Providence and found work as a seaman on Arnold’s vessels. Arnnold tried to force his return to Newport, but eventually settled for taking Martin’s hard-earned wages.

President Obama Visitation 2016: 52 Barnes Street. See plaque.

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:

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. (Destroyed June 2020)

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, Room 50 (1878)

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:

Abner Hall House, 1826-27: 116 Hope Street. Chirstiana Bannister lived here in the back after Edward died in 1901. The house was owned by her niece, ca. 1895-1907. See:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Horace Mann Buillding: 47 George Street. See plaque on east end of building acknowledging his work as an avid abolitionist.

Ruth Simmons Quadrangle (known previously as Lincoln Field) Brown University. Bounded to the west by Sayles Hall, and to the east by Soldiers Arch, it is one of the two parcels of land that formed the original College Hill campus in 1770. Learn more here:

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:

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, and exhibited at the Providence Arrt Club.

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.

Moses and Mary Jane Hampton House.:22 Fremont Street. In late November 1884, a meeting was held in Providence’s East Side at the Hampton home where a small group of devoted Christians gathered to pledge themselves to the creation of a new church< Ebenezer Baptist Church, on the West Side of Providence. Some other founding members were: Mr. and Mrs. Moses J. Ford, Matilda Johnson, Christopher, and Jeanette Ridley. This meeting was the result of differences of opinion of a group who left the Congdon Street Baptist Church to form a church of their own.


Mt. Hope

See history of Mt. Hope Street here:

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:

# Olney Street Baptist Church: 100 Olney Street. On December 19, 1901, one thousand dollars was paid for the church at 30 Olney Street beoming the home of the Olney Street Baptist Church for fifty-eight years. Harlem Renaissance author, Rudolph Fisher, attended services here. The church was razed during the destruction of Lippitt Hill and moved to a new edifice it built in 1963.

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:

Alexander P. Niger House: 91 Hope Street. Niger, an accomplished Black typesetter who worked in the Providence printing trade as early as 1850, and was a founder of the Providence Typographical Union, No. 33 in 1857, the first Black man to be admitted to such a union in the country, owned this house from 1893 to 1898. The  house was built in 1826 by abolitionist William Alpin, secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society in Providence. Niger's gravestone is located at Locust Grove Cemetery in the Elmwood section of Providence.

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:


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: 

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:

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. 

Mount Hope Sharing Garden: Billy Taylor Park, 124 Camp Street Mount Hope Sharing Garden is a community garden near the historically Black Olney Street neighborhood where many historic figures lived. The garden honors contributions and knowledge of Rhode Island Black farmers, free and enslaved, as well as the importance of plants, food and medicine to their survival.

University Heights Apartment Complex: 99 Roger Williams Green.

Providence The University Heights apartment complex built between 1964 and 1968 in the Lippitt Hill neighborhood of Providence is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion A for its associations with the fair housing movement in Rhode Island, under Criterion B for its associations with developer and leading fair housing advocate Irving Fain (1906–1970, see 400 Laurel Avenue), and under Criterion C for its architectural design. The Lippitt Hill urban renewal project begun in 1959 was the first in the state to include plans for the construction of new racially and economically integrated private housing to replace the cleared buildings, which were predominantly occupied by African Americans. Providence businessman Fain, who was heading an effort to get comprehensive fair housing legislation passed by the General Assembly, submitted the chosen development proposal for a garden apartment complex and adjacent shopping center that relied partially on federal financing. The completed project consisting of 24 two- and three-story apartment buildings arranged around central courtyards was the first of its kind in the country, according to a 1968 report submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Lippitt Hill Elementary/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School: 35 Camp Street, Providence The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School built in 1967 at 35 Camp Street in Providence is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion A for its associations with school desegregation in Rhode Island and under Criterion C for its non-standard architectural design based on community input. As the first intentionally planned, integrated school in the state, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School served as a catalyst for integration across the entire Providence school system and in the surrounding area. Community involvement in the entire integration process— beginning with the decision to replace two primarily black schools in the Lippitt Hill urban renewal project area with an integrated school that better reflected the overall population of the East Side— created models for redistricting plans, educational paradigms, and building designs that subsequently influenced school desegregation plans for other areas of Providence. The school remains fully integrated and appears to retain sufficient integrity to its original construction. Further research into the evolution of the architectural plans for the building and any subsequent alterations would be recommended to support its eligibility under Criterion C. 


Charles D. Woodward/Philip F. Addison Jr. House: 131 Camp Street, Providence. The two-story, ca. 1920, Colonial Revival-style house at 131 Camp Street in Providence is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion B for its associations with Philip F. Addison Jr. (1916–2006), the first Black City Councilor in Providence. In 1969, Addison successfully ran against three other contenders for the Democratic nomination to fill a vacancy on the City Council and went on to defeat the white Republican candidate Ann D. Ury. He was elected Deputy Majority Leader of the Council in 1975 and became Majority Leader in 1979. Along with serving on the City Council, Addison worked as the city’s Director of Recreation and volunteered as a community worker for the Urban League’s “New Thrust Program,” which was intended to facilitate communication between residents and federal and municipal organizations. He lived at 131 Camp Street from 1969 until his death in 2006, and the house remains in his family. The building retains sufficient integrity to the period during which Addison became the first black member of the City Council.

Beatrice Coleman House: 77 Olney Street. Early graduate (1925) of Pembroke, the female college at Brown. One of the first Black teachers in the Providence school system, teaching at Hope High School.


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.


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.


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

Martin Luther King, Jr. bust. Rhode Island State House. Smith 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:

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

^ 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.

The Biltmore Hotel: 11 Dorrance Street.

The Green Book listing reveals a key aspect of the hotel’s history that has never been told: that it was open occupancy. Between 1947 and 1955, African-Americans were welcomed there and could avail themselves of the hotel’s many services. These services included a drugstore, printer, postal-telegraph office, a barber shop, gift shop, cigar stand, public stenographer, multiple clothing stores, and six different restaurants. It would have been a key destination for African-Americans travelers during this time. The Biltmore was designed by Warren and Wetmore and constructed in 1922. It was the first major hotel constructed in Providence. The hotel was legendary during Prohibition, mainly because Rhode Island was so lax in enforcing the anti-drinking laws. The hotel quickly became a Big Band-era hot spot, hosting the likes of Benny Goodman and Jimmy Dorsey. As time passed, the Biltmore kept with the times, hosting John and Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Rocky Marciano, among others. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman have also graced its doors. At one point, one might have even seen a handsome young senator by the name of Joe Biden. The hotel was particularly famous for the Bacchante Girls, scantily-clad waitresses who served the “banquettes” in the Bacchante Room. After being summoned to a table by a button, the Bacchante girls passed through the bar, where pink lighting streamed up through the bar’s glass floor through their diaphanous skirts, and showed off their legs. The Biltmore’s relationship with its African-American clients has yet to be fully understood. Among the Rhode Island Green Book sites, it stands out as a meeting place and as a public site. It can’t have accidentally been listed, especially for all those years. Further research is definitely needed.

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:

+ = 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.

India Point Park: 201 India Street. This area was the former working port of Providence. India Point and the larger Fox Point neighborhood, has been a major point of entry and exit for people and goods since the Colonial period. There were wharfs, distilleries, ropewalks, warehouses, snack bars, candle factories and a hospital. Ships were built, repaired, loaded and unloaded right here. This was a major location for labor in Providence, including that of enslaved and free Black people. 

John and Elizabeth Smith House: 244 Transit Street (formerly 135 Transit Street). John Smith, a servant in the Carrington Family household, and Elizabeth, a highly respected educator, built this house in 1847, vacating it several years later for a larger house at 22 East Street.

South Providence

Abner Hall House: 116 Hope Street (1825-28). Christiana Carteaux Bannister lived here in the back following the death of her husband, Edward. The house was owned by her niece. 

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. Learn more at:  file:///C:/Users/surplus/Downloads/CG%20Manuscript%20D%20Supplement%2054.pdf

# Macedonia AME Church: 35 Ashmont Street. Originally located on Colfax Street, it was founded and built in 1907 by Harlem Renaissance author Rudolph Fisher's father, Rev. John Wesley Fisher, and remained there until moving to its new location in1960.

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


Dexter Training Ground: 73 Dexter Street. The 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (Colored), the first African-American company from Rhode Island to serve in the Civil War, was raised in Providence and bivouacked here. See plaque honoring the Troops and soldier John Sharper at the Parade Street side of the park. See more here:

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." 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.

St. Martin de Porres Multi-Service Center: 160 Cranston Street

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:

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:

Kandy's of Course: 802 Broad Street. 1970s Beauty salon.

John H. Rollins Recreation Center: 325 Ocean Street. Named for Providence City Councilman Rollins. Learn more here: 


George Araujo Children's Park: corner of Preston and Ives Streets. Named for the Cape Verdean professional lightweight boxer from Fox Point.

Britto Way: Intersection of Ives Street and Wickenden Street. Named in honor of John “Johnny” Britto and Eufemia “Fama” Britto, two lifelong Fox Point residents and pillars of their community. Mrs. Britto worked for the Providence Schools and Mr. Britto was the athletic director for the Fox Point Boys & Girls Club for over 60 years.

Sherman S. (Sanford) Mars House: 251 Williams Street. Built by Mars in 1846 (see plaque). Sold in 1855 to William H. Howard ("colored"). Mars, married to Hannah Sampson ("colored"), was one of the men of color who organized the Rhode Island Committee of Vigilance (along with Thomas Henson, a Black Baptist clergyman, reared in New Bedford, MA) in 1848 and was elected secretary of the group. On his 1841 seaman’s protection paper Sherman Mars claimed to have been born about 1790 in Litchfield, Connecticut; in the 1860 census he stated that he was born about 1810 in Africa. He may have been a son of Jupiter Mars, whose life story – including fleeing from slavery – is recounted in Life of James Mars, A Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut, Written by Himself (1864). Sherman Mars died in 1860, and his widow remained in the Williams Street house until her own death in 1883. 


Sherman S. (Sanford) Mars House: 247 Williams Street was built by African American laborer and engineer Sherman Sanford Mars in 1847. The house continued to be occupied by people of color through at least 1947. 

Occomy Residence: 85 John Street. Mr. & Mrs. Walter Occomy lived here from about 1915 until at least 1940. Occomy worked as a carpenter, waiter and butler for Providence families. See his obituary here:

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:

# 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:

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:

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

Arthur "Daddy" Black Residence: 180 Cranston Street, Providence. The noted numbers man was murdered here in 1932. See article here: 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.

Hood-Shaw Memorial AME Zion Church: 148 Wadsworth Street. Providence The Hood-Shaw Memorial AME Zion Church, built in 1964 for the merged congregations of the Winter Street AME Zion Church and Wadsworth Street AME Church in Providence, is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion A for its associations with the civil rights activities of parishioners and congregation leaders, particularly Bertha Higgins (see 50 Woodman Street) and Reverend Arthur L. Hardge; under Criterion B for its association with the civil rights work of Reverend Hardge; and under Criterion C as an example of a modular, mid-twentieth-century church built by Creative Buildings, Inc. Higgins (1874–1944) organized the Colored Independent Political Association in 1932 at the Winter Street AME Church, which hosted a meeting of New England NAACP members in 1939. Hardge (1927–1983), pastor of the church during the 1963 merger, participated in Freedom Rides in the South and served as the chairman of the Providence Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). He was also the executive secretary of the Rhode Island Commission on Discrimination. 

Bertha G. and Dr. William Higgins House: 50 Woodman Street. Providence The two-story, ca. 1930, Colonial Revival-style house at 50 Woodman Street in Providence is potentially eligible for listing under Criterion B for its associations with civil rights activist Bertha G. Higgins (1874–1944). Higgins was active in several causes in Rhode Island including women’s suffrage and worked to improve the social, political, and economic conditions of African Americans in the state during the Jim Crow era. In the early twentieth century, she founded the Julia Ward Howe Republican Women’s Club, which supported Republican candidates; lobbied for African American causes with Republican politicians; and recruited African American women into the Republican party. By 1932, after frustrations with a lack of action on the part of Republicans, Higgins shifted her allegiances and those of her women’s club to the Democratic party. In the 1940s, she served on the Commission on the Employment Problem of the Negro and the Providence Urban League in the 1940s. Higgins resided from ca. 1930 to ca. 1940 at 50 Woodman Street, which retains sufficient integrity to that period. 

# * 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:

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:

William Gross House: 133 Wadsworth Street. Built 1890. Gross was the father of Dr. Carl Gross, Providence's "baby doctor" and chronicler of Rhode Island Black history. Emma Clarissa (Williams) Clements also lived here, and in1946 was named “American Mother of the Year”, the first African American to receive the honor. 


George’s Service Station: 203 Plainfield St. Providence, RI

Run by George H. Water, a specialist in tire repair, is a wonderful fluke, in multiple ways. It is the only automotive service listed in The Green Book in Rhode Island for the publication’s entire run. It was located in a very different part of town than both other Green Book sites and other automotive services, many of which clustered around the eastern terminus of Broadway, near what is now the Providence Place Mall and I95. And, its existence is documented on the 1937 Hopkins Atlas Map. Lastly, the building survives, even if in considerably altered form.

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.

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.

North End

North Burial Ground: 5 Branch Avenue North Burial Ground, Providence, built in 1700, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Providence. A Black Heritage Tour Map is available for free in the office. See Patience Borden, who in 1811 donated all of her money “to the relief of poor people of color.” 

Esek Hopkins House: 97 Admiral Street. Hopkins was captain of the Sally, leading the terrible slave voyage of 1764–1765. He also enslaved several people at his home in North Providence, and brought his young Black indentured servant Edward Abbey aboard the Sally to “teach” him. Hopkins went on to command the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War for a time. 

South Providence


Barbara Jordan II Housing: 38-42 Somerset Street. Created by Providence City Councilman Lloyd Griffin.

# * 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:

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:

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.”

North End

North Burial Ground: 5 Branch Avenue North Burial Ground, Providence, built in 1700, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Providence. A Black Heritage Tour Map is available for free in the office. See Patience Borden, who in 1811 donated all of her money “to the relief of poor people of color.” 

Esek Hopkins House: 97 Admiral Street. Hopkins was captain of the Sally, leading the terrible slave voyage of 1764–1765. He also enslaved several people at his home in North Providence, and brought his young Black indentured servant Edward Abbey aboard the Sally to “teach” him. Hopkins went on to command the U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War for a time. 

South Providence


Barbara Jordan II Housing: 38-42 Somerset Street. Created by Providence City Councilman Lloyd Griffin.

KKK Rally: Oaklawn Cemetery, Broad Street. early 1920s




The 1774 census showed the total population of Barrington recorded as 601 people living in 91 separate homes. Among those were 18 people listed as “Indians” and 39 people listed as “Black” or “Negro”. Most, if not all, of these 57 (total) people are presumed to have been either enslaved or indentured. One of them, Sippeo Richmond, a free man, owned three acres of pasture, one acre of tillage and four acres of waste and woodland. From 1747 to 1770 Barrington was merged with the neighboring town of Warren. The Warren “Middle Passage” project has compiled a list of at least 66 people known to have been enslaved over time in what is now Barrington.

John Martin House, 127 Massasoit Avenue. Barrington’s oldest surviving house, ca. 1680. One black youth under 16 owned by Martin's son, Capt. John Martin, lived in the household in 1774.

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.



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."



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:,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:

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:

See also the testimony of Black indentured servants Somerset and Jack:

Read more at: (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:


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.


Arkwright Manufacturing Company: Arkwright Village in the northeast corner of Coventry. Founded by leading slaver James DeWolfe, the textile mills were supplied with cotton picked by southern slaves. Learn more here:,_Rhode_Island

+ Brayton Burial Lot: (CY#168) Here lay the remains of Elder Benjamin Roberts, the “colored Baptist preacher”, and his wife.


Settlement of free African American laborers: Off Maple Valley Road near present day Parker Woodland. Local lore holds that they operated a saw mill from the 1760s until 1875.

Nathanael Greene House: 50 Taft Street. 1770/ Greene and his wife Caty owned of a couple people during the war, including Christa, in this house.


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, who remained in the slave trade long after it was outlawed, and whose uncle James DeWolf was one of America's most prolific slavers. 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 launched 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. In 1853, after the death of her husband William Henry DeWolf, son of James DeWolf, the cash-strapped Sarah DeWolf rented out the conservatory of the house to Daniel Tanner, a local Black entrepreneur, who used it as a barber shop. Learn more about Tanner here:

+ 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:


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.