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College Hill: Our “Mile of
In the Providence, RI portion of the National
Heritage Corridor is the historic neighborhood of College Hill. The community we
know today as College Hill was the site of the first permanent colonial
settlement in Rhode Island. The area currently contains one of the Providence's
most extensive and distinguished collections of historic architecture. Located
on a steep hill generated from the east bank of the Providence River, the area
has always been primarily residential in nature. In fact, Benefit Street,
Providence's own "Mile of History," was established in 1756 and became home to
many wealthy Providence businessmen.
From its founding by Roger Williams in 1636 to
the late 18th century, nearly all the settled area of Providence occupied land
on College Hill. By the time of the American Revolution, the narrow stretch of
land at the river's eastern shore by the foot of the hill was already densely
populated with wharves, warehouses, shops, public buildings, and residential
houses. Constructed in 1770, the University Hall of Brown University stood alone
at the intersection of College and Prospect streets-the top of College Hill.
Other key public buildings which still remain in the neighborhood today include
the Old State House (1762), the Brick School House (1767), the Market House
(1773), and the First Baptist Meeting House (1775).
After the American Revolution, the residential
areas of Providence expanded. Merchants, artisans and professionals began to
move farther up the hillside along Benefit, Congdon, George, Thomas, Power,
Williams, John, Arnold and Transit Streets. College Hill became a popular
location for elaborate mansions of the area's wealthiest merchants. The earliest
of these is John Brown's House (1786), described by President John Quincy Adams
as "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on
For more about the historic College Hill neighborhood and
its attractions call the Providence Office of Arts, Culture & Tourism at
401-421-2489 or visit
and Statewide Hallmarks
are significant connections between the establishment of the
the founding of the State of
and the founder of the colony and its capital city of
year our nation becomes 230 years young, and the founding of
occurred 370 years ago. The Roger
Williams connection is that he founded a city-state on the ideals of freedom
that were embolden when on May 4, 1776 Rhode Island became the first British
colony to declare its independence, followed by the rest of the nation on July 4th.
now and throughout the year, visitors can see two significant sites located
portion of the National Heritage Corridor to interpret the beginnings of
Williams National Memorial,
North Main Street
near the present day RI State House, is operated by the National Park Service
and interprets the life and times of
This colony served as a refuge where all could come to worship as their
conscience dictated without interference from the state.
Memorial is located on a common lot of the original settlement of
includes 4.5 acres of landscaped park. It also provides an excellent perspective
of the transformation of
colonial haven to shipping trade and manufacturing center to today's noted
renaissance as an invigorating arts and entertainment destination
the many contributions Roger Williams made to the cause of religious freedom
through exhibits and videos. Walk through the landscaped park that includes the
site of the fresh-water spring and common area of the first European settlement
more details contact the 401-521-7266 or visit the website at
the way is the
which serves as the
offices for the State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation & Heritage
Old State House has been the setting of many important events. Here on
May 4, 1776
, the General Assembly
repealed a previous act of allegiance to the crown. The date is now celebrated
as Rhode Island Independence Day. While meeting here in 1784, the Assembly
passed the first act in the
providing for the gradual
emancipation of slaves. In 1781, George Washington attended a dinner and ball
given here in his honor. He returned as President in 1790 to attend a banquet
's ratification of the federal
more about the history of the building call 401-222-2678 or visit the web at
Memorial, 21 Brown St., Prov 401-863-1994 Mon-Fri 1-5 p.m. Built in
1907 by Christopher Rush Hawkins as a memorial to his wife. A tomblike
building which also houses a fine collection of American and European
Archives at Johnson & Wales, 315 Harborside
Blvd,401-598-2805 Tues-Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m.. One hr guided tours available
by appt. Internationally renown premier museum devoted to preservation
of five centuries and a half million items for the
|Providence City Hall, 25
Dorrance St., 401-421-7740 M-F 8:30-4:30 July/Aug 8:30-4. Closed
Holidays. Center of Providence's urban renaissance. Designed by Samuel
JF Thayer in regard to heritage of the Louvre and Tuileries Palace in
Paris. A Landmark for people gathering on the steps.
Planetarium and Museum of Natural History, Roger
Williams Park, 1000 Elmwood Ave. 401-785-9450 or eves 401-785-9457.
10-5 daily. A quarter million objects of natural and cultural history
from around the world. Founded 1896.
Baptist Meeting House, 75 North Main St., 401-454-3418. M-F
9:30-3:30. guided tours available. Closed Sat and holidays. Founded in
1638 by Roger Williams and is oldest Baptist Church in America. Built in
1775 as blend of NE meetinghouse and English Georgian styles.
Children's Museum,100 South Street, 401-273-KIDS. 7 days 9:30-5
p.m. Hands on kids museum for play and learning. Discover the world
beneath the streets, the whirling ways of water and much more!
Henry Lippitt House, 199 Hope Street, 401-453-0688. May-Oct.
Fri- 11-3 and by appt. National Historic Landmark of mid nineteenth
century with superb interior and decorative Victorian details. Former
home of two RI Governors. Open for public and functions.
Museum, 224 Benefit St, 401-454-6500. Tues-Sun 10-5. Third Thurs
of Month - open until 9 p.m. History of art from antiquity to present
with collection of 85,000 multi-media international pieces
Hopkins House, 15 Hopkins Street, 401-421-0694. Apr-Dec, Wed &
Sat 1-4 p.m. & by Appt. Perfectly restored 1707 clapboard home of
ten time former Governor Stephen Hopkins who signed Declaration of
Independence. Visited twice by George Washington.
Harbor Museum, 222 Richmond St. 401-751-7979. Al unique
consortium of nineteen historical and cultural organizations coming
together under one roof to tell the story of all Rhode Islanders.
Brown House, 52 Power Street, 401-331-8575. Apr-Dec, Tues-Sat
10-5, Sun noon-4 p.m.. Jan-Mar Fri-Sat 10-5, Sun noon-4 p.m. An
outstanding historical 1786 architectural gem featuring fine examples of
RI furniture, original woodwork, decortive arts.
Sub Museum, Collier Point Park, 401-521-3600. Late 1950s
Soviet Cruise missile attack submarine known as one of America's
deadliest enemies. Used in Paramount's Harrison Ford/Liam Neeson's
K-19:The Widowmaker, a Cold War thriller.
|The Aldrich House
History Museum, 110 Benevolent Street, 401-331-8575. Tues-Fri 9-5.
Sun - noon-4 (exhibitions only). 1822 Federal style home includes a
gallery on RI History, heritage and also has a hall of fame.
South Main & College Sts. Includes a World War I Monument and the
Verrazzano monument. See outdoor sculpture.
|The Old State House, 150
Benefit Street, 401-222-2678. M-F 8:30 - 4:30, closed holidays.
The Declaration of Independence was signed here on May 4,1776, two
months before the other colonies. 1970 National Historic Register,
formerly known as Court or State House for Providence Colony County. New
capitol took over in 1901 s State House.
||India Point Park,
India Street. An 18 acre park overlooking Narragansett Bay with playing
fields for soccer, playground, jogging and bike paths and the Community
Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street, 401-421-6970. M-Th 9 a.m.-7 p.m.,
Fri-Sat 9-5, Sun 1-5 p.m. Tours avail by appt. Oldest subscription
library and cultural institution in America and 4th oldest library
in nation. Founded by Prov KLibrary Co in 1753 and visited often by
Moses Brown, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen Hopkins. Greek Revival.
Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood, 401-785-3510. A lovely zoo with
Carousel village, park, paddle boats, museum, greenhouses and tennis
courts. Near Natural History Museum and Planetarium.
Black Heritage Society, 65 Weybosset St, 401-751-3490, Mon-Fri
10:30-3:30. Museum, gallery, art and culture of RI African Americans and
Congdon at Cushing Streets. Gives panorama of Providence and site of
Roger Williams Memorial.
Island State House, 82 Smith Street, 401-222-2357. M-f 8:30-4:30
self-guided tours. Tours avail by appt. 4th largest self-supporting dome
in world, built in 1895 of white marble. Original portrait of George
Washington by local RI artist Gilbert Stuart housed here. The 1663 Royal
Charter guaranteeing freedom of religion and government for RI settlers
also housed here.
Riverwalk, at Memorial Boulevard, 800-562-9895, 4 acre city park and
lovely location of Waterfire,
running 2/3 mile along the River amidst the wonderful gondolas,
concerts and many other events. 401-272-3111.
|Union Station, One
Union Station at Exchange Tower, 401-274-4564. Restored central train
station with offices, restaurants, clock tower.
Williams National Park, North Main & Smith Streets,
401-521-7266. Site of original Providence settlement of 1636. Visitor
information available 9-4:30 daily.
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