The story

Rhode Island State House

Rhode Island State House


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Designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, the State House is sculpted from white Georgia marble and sits atop Smith Hill in downtown Providence. Construction started in 1895 and was completed in 1901.The General Assembly met in legislative session for the first time in the State House on January 1, 1901.Standing more than 278 feet above Smith Hill, the Independent Man has been a fixture of the State House since 1899. It is a symbol of freedom and independence.The Senate and House chambers are within the State House.


Rhode Island State House - History

Presently, the Blackstone River State Park is a linear park on alternate banks of the Blackstone River from Valley Falls, Cumberland to Hamlet Village in Woonsocket. A distance of some 12 miles, the park's principal feature is the Blackstone River Bike Path. Beginning with an elevated board walk over the Valley Falls marsh at Jones Street in Cumberland, it winds its way through a restored meadow, once a Drive-in movie theater, and follows the tow path of the historic (1828-1848) Blackstone Canal at Old Lonsdale in the town of Lincoln.

The towpath parallels the canal nearly four miles north to the Captain Wilbur Kelly house at Old Ashton in Lincoln before crossing the river again at Pray's Wading Place. Riders then continue north, re-crossing the river at Albion Village. Passing through another mill village at Manville, the path ends temporarily in the new playing fields of Woonsocket's Hamlet Village at Davison Street.

During this 11.6 mile course, bike riders and hikers have the opportunity to see great blue heron and other bird fishermen like cormorants, an occasional osprey, and even the chance of an eagle. The waters of the river and canal once reduced from pollution to only a few species of fish, now boast more that two dozen varieties. Muskrat, raccoons, opossum, skunk, foxes, and coyotes share the meadows and wooded river banks with deer. Frogs, and turtles of sizes ranging from modest to large snappers are visible through out the park's linear bounds.

Plans for the bikeway call for it to extend a couple of winding miles north through the industrial neighborhoods of Woonsocket to the state line at Blackstone, Massachusetts, and to continue south through Central Falls and Pawtucket to the site of Slater Mill with a link to Blackstone Boulevard in Providence and the 18 mile East Bay Bike Path, from India Point and Fort Hill in East Providence, Haines Memorial State Park in Barrington, and all the way to Colt State Park in Bristol.

While the feel and look of the Blackstone River State Park, stitching together the river banks and the abutting boundaries of Cumberland and Lincoln, is definitely rural and naturalistic, the history of the land and waters making up the park is thoroughly industrial. At various points in the twelve-mile trek, one can see the remains of the area's industrial past peek out from beneath the foliage and reflect in the waters. Mill dams, which once held back the river in order to power machinery, still mark the river's drop at four locations. Sluices and power trenches, canal mile-stones, ground level, protruding shapes of cellar holes of former worker tenements, along with recycled mills now used as apartments and small businesses dot the path. The observant visitor is challenged to discover the legacy layers of this landscape of industry.

Within its bounds, the recorded history of the Park dates back to the Indian uprising of King Philip's War (1675-1676) sites in the middle portion of the Park relate to the nearby Lincoln industry of the mining and processing of limestone for making plaster and mortar. But the main chapter of its history pertains to the various eras of the textile story begun in Pawtucket with Providence merchant, Moses Brown and English millwright, Samuel Slater in 1790 that continue to the final stages of that industry in this area in the 1930s to the 1950s.

A necklace of industrial gems comprising ten major glittering elements, mostly consisting of Brown and Ives Lonsdale's cottons, Sayles Finishing Company, and the Chace brothers' Berkshire Fine Spinning products was strung from Valley Falls to Hamlet. They became giants in the Rhode Island manufacturing chronicle and major players in America's industrial history. Tributes to the Rhode Island shipping trade with China, India, and South America where the fortunes were made to fund the turn to textiles are seen in the street signs in Lincoln and Woonsocket, named for the entrepreneur Edward Carrington. Critical to this success story that stretched over a century and a half was the role played by transportation, the key linkage tying these dispersed enterprises to the board rooms, banking floors, and marshalling yards in the port of Providence. The transportation elements were the Blackstone Canal and the Providence and Worcester Railroad, both of which are prominent parts of the linear park. The story of transportation is depicted at the Captain Wilbur Kelly House, a museum midway along the bike path. Operated by the Department of Environmental Management, Kelly House offers interactive exhibits reflecting the major chapters of the story of the movements of goods and peoples in this portion of the Blackstone Valley. Central to this story of intersections is the personal biography of a key player in all aspects of transportation, Captain Wilbur Kelly (1782-1846). Kelly was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts in 1782 and came to Providence when he became a noted sea captain in the employ of the equally noted shipping firm of Brown and Ives. In 1815 he set a speed record in sailing the second Ann and Hope to Canton, China and back.

About this time, however, he began an interest in the growing textile industry, begun two decades earlier by another Brown family group, Amy and Brown with Samuel Slater in Pawtucket. After an unpropitious start in a textile venture in North Providence in 1816, Kelly returned to the sea trade with Brown and Ives, but by 1823 he was ready for another attempt in textiles. This time, he purchased a closed mill along the Blackstone in what became the Old Ashton/Quinnville neighborhood of Lincoln. Kelly was aware of the plans to build the Blackstone Canal through his site and anticipated it would reawaken the silent factory. The project began to connect the inland market town of Worcester, Massachusetts with the port of Providence by constructing a canal with 48 lift locks to pass boats up and down the 438 foot descent of the Blackstone River.

Kelly eventually sold his little mill to Brown and Ives who made it their Upper Mill at Ashton, and he became their real estate agent for buying up some four miles of river bank from Ashton to Lonsdale. His purchases led them over time to establish four manufacturing villages on the land he bought and to build a textile empire which lasted 100 years. He became a consignment agent for canal cargoes and the on-site manager of the building of their first village of Lonsdale with mills, housing, a church, a company, store and school in the mid 1830s. He built a home, now the museum, in Old Ashton in 1835 to serve as the superintendent's cottage for the Upper Mill and to manage the 17 acre farm that served to provide some of the food needs for the mill workers, whose houses comprised the early village in Lincoln, now Quinnville.

Eventually, that village was eclipsed by the new Ashton mill and attendant village built across the Blackstone River in 1867 to take advantage of the convenience of the Providence and Worcester Railroad which had been brought through the neighborhood on the Cumberland side of the river, putting the Blackstone Canal out of business.


Information

Tours: Click here for details.

Time required: allow at least an hour

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm, except holidays

Finding it: From Route 95 North, take exit 23 for State Offices at Orms Street go straight across on State Street to the State House.
From Route 95 South, take exit 23 turn right at the bottom of the ramp onto Charles Street, then take the next left onto Ashburton Street continue straight through two sets of lights to a third set at the foot of Smith Street turn right up the hill to the State House.


Browse: Click on the button at the top of each page to browse the digital records by topic.

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Brian J. Sarault

Former Pawtucket Mayor Brian J. Sarault was sentenced in 1992 to more than 5 years in prison, after pleading guilty to a charge of racketeering.

Sarault was arrested by state police and FBI agents at Pawtucket City Hall in 1991, who alleged that the mayor had attempted to extort $3,000 from former RI State Rep. Robert Weygand as a kickback from awarding city contracts.

Weygand, after alerting federal authorities to the extortion attempt, wore a concealed recording device to a meeting where he delivered $1,750 to Sarault.


Rhode Island

Rhode Island, measuring only about 48 miles long and 37 miles wide, is the smallest of the U.S. states. Despite its small area, Rhode Island, known as the “Ocean State,” boasts over 400 miles of coastline. Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams in 1636, who had been banished from the Massachusetts colony for his advocacy of religious tolerance and the separation of church and state.During the colonial period, Newport was a major hub for shipping and trade, and in the 19th century Rhode Island was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of power-driven textile mills. Rhode Island hosted the first National Lawn Tennis Championship in 1899, and is home to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Famous Rhode Islanders include novelists Cormac MacCarthy and Jhumpa Lahiri, actor James Woods, television personality Meredith Vieira and Civil War U.S. Army officer Ambrose Burnside.

Date of Statehood: May 29, 1790

Capital: Providence

Population: 1,052,567 (2010)

Size: 1,545 square miles

Nickname(s): Ocean State Little Rhody Plantation State Smallest State Land of Roger Williams Southern Gateway of New England


Rhode Island State Hospital

Eighteen frame buildings were constructed in 1870, and that November 118 mental patients were admitted - 65 charity cases from Butler Asylum, 25 from town poor houses and 28 from asylums in Vermont and Massachusetts where the state had sent them. The patients at the State Asylum were poor and believed beyond help, as is reflected in the evolution of names for the asylum. Initially it was to be called the State Insane Asylum in 1869 the Asylum for the Pauper Insane and in 1870 the State Asylum for the Incurable Insane. In 1885, to relieve the cities and towns from the burden of supporting their insane poor, the General Assembly adopted a resolution that the State Asylum for the Insane should serve as a receiving hospital for all types of mental disorder, acute as well as chronic, thereby merging the two. By giving over the Asylum to “undesirable” elements, the poor, the incurable, and the foreign born, the upper and middle classes thus restricted their own ability to use it. Therapy was second to custody.

In 1888, the General Assembly appropriated funds for a new almshouse to replace the frame building that had been originally built for the insane. Known now as the Center Building, the Almshouse was also designed by Stone, Carpenter and Wilson. Its name acknowledges the prevailing trend in institutional design, as evidenced in the House of Correction and State Prison, as well: the installation of a large central administration building with office and residential facilities for the staff and public eating and worship spaces for the inmates who were segregated in wings flanking the central structure. In this case, the wings housed 150 men and 150 women and includes an additional wing, the children’s “cottage” for sixty children. Opened in 1890, the three-and a half story stone building stands as a series of long buildings running north-south and interrupted regularly by octagonal stair towers. Its handsome stone work and red-brick trim and its site behind copper beach trees on a bluff overlooking Pontiac Avenue make the Center Building one of the most visually striking structures in Rhode Island.

1900s [ edit ]

The major improvement of the decade before the turn of the century was the appointment of Howard’s first full-time medical superintendent, Dr. George F. Keene, which signaled the introduction of professionally trained, therapy-oriented administrators at the State Farm. The new orientation manifested itself in the building plan for the Hospital for the Insane created in 1900 from designs by the prominent Providence architectural firm of Martin and Hall. Based on the contemporary practice of constructing hospitals for the insane on the cottage or ward plan, “thereby establishing small communities in separate buildings that are more easily taken care of and administered,” the plan was the first at Howard to establish a campus-like quadrangle arrangement of buildings in place of one large self-contained structure.

A key part of the new plan was a communal dining room, modeled after the one in the hospital at Danvers, Massachusetts. As a result of Martin and Hall’s recommendations, the Service Building was constructed in 1903 and included a dining room measuring 195 feet by 104 feet, which could seat 1,400 people.The master plan outlined by Martin and Hall was slow in being realized. In 1912, the Reception Hospital (A Building) was opened. With 184 beds it was intended to permit appropriate diagnosis and classification of patients as they entered the institution. This effort became a reality with the assignment in 1916 of psychiatric social workers to the state hospital.

The Training School for Nurses was opened in conjunction with the Reception Building, and when the Rhode Island Medical Society held its annual meeting there, it recorded its approval. Nonetheless, the new facility did not relieve overcrowding, and in 1913, 2000 people were sleeping on the floor at the State Hospital for the Insane. The completion of B Ward in 1916 and C Ward in 1918 responded to the population increase and at last fulfilled Martin and Hall’s plan for “simple and dignified” buildings and “plain red brick walls with pitched roofs, without any attempt at ornamentation.” Standing just west of Howard Avenue and opposite the old House of Correction, the Martin and Hall quadrangle signals the beginning of a new mode of construction at Howard - red brick buildings in a simple Colonial Revival style grouped around a quadrangle and containing dormitories, single rooms, and porches as well as treatment facilities.

The concern for professionalism at the staff level soon affected the administration as well. In 1918, the General Assembly unified the Board of State Charities with the Board of Control and Supply, which controlled state expenditure and formed the Penal and Charitable Commission. Until this time there had been considerable tension between the two Boards, the Board of Supply frequently imposing fiscal restraints on the Board of State Charities’ efforts at reform. Although some proposed plans to relieve overcrowding were postponed due to shortages caused by the First World War, the new Commission constructed a new building for the criminally insane and additional dormitories.

The old twelve foot high solid fence which shut off patients from the outside world was replaced in 1919 by a lower lattice one with a view of the surrounding countryside. This change alone symbolized the change in attitude which was articulated in the 1920 Annual Report:

“The commission tries to save dollars, but it would rather save a man or a woman. It wants to see the plants in Cranston, Providence, and Exeter a credit to Rhode Island, standing like so many Temples of Reform, Education, and Philanthropy. But it is even more desirable that its work should be represented in reconstructed Living Temples in the morals, minds and bodies of those who have been ministered to by these public administrators. For it is better to minister than administer.”

These efforts at reform in the treatment of the insane were paralleled by a new attitude towards the infirm. The Almshouse became the State Infirmary and attention was focused on the medical, not the social, disabilities of the inmates.

Expansion [ edit ]

It was the infusion of large amounts of federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds that dramatically altered the appearance of the Howard complex and permitted, if briefly, appropriate physical accommodation for patients, inmates, and attendants. Overcrowding has been a chronic problem at Howard and only the large-scale construction program of the WPA could solve it. Despite the building effort of the 1920s, in 1933 the State Hospital, with accommodations for 1,550, housed 2,235 and was labeled the most overcrowded mental hospital in the northeast.

In the years 1935-1938 twenty-five buildings were erected for the State Hospital for Mental Disease, three for the State Infirmary, and three for the Sockanosset School. The appearance of Howard was dramatically altered by this construction which went up so fast the Providence Journal declared a “new skyline rises at Howard.”

Built in a uniform, red-brick, Georgian Revival style, the structures comprising the State Hospital and State Infirmary are grouped in campus fashion on either side of Howard Avenue. Among the most interesting are the Benjamin Rush Building, with an ogee gable inspired by the Joseph Brown House in Providence, and the cluster of Physician’s Cottages which finally permitted the hospital staff improved residential accommodations. Taken in total, the buildings constructed at Howard by the WPA incorporated a uniformity of style, scale, material, and siting that is striking. Historically they represent the coming together of national policy and local initiative. Architecturally, they present one of the most lucid statements of the Georgian Revival in Rhode Island.

But despite the tremendous improvement made possible by the WPA, by 1947 conditions at Howard had once again deteriorated due to overcrowding. The Hospital for the Insane, built for 2,700 beds, held over 3,000 patients. Increased salaries were approved to help recruit additional staff, and it was proposed that a master plan be developed. In 1947, the “Hospital Survey and Construction Act of Rhode Island,” stemming from the federal Hospital Survey and Construction Act of that year, was passed. Through it, the governor was authorized to appoint an advisory hospital council to advise and consult with the Department of Health in implementing the Survey and Construction Act. However, no immediate action was taken, and in 1949 the population at Howard reached its highest in history without significant new construction. Interestingly, in 1959 an expert from Boston declared that the conditions at Howard were shameful and yet “relatively good” compared with mental hospitals in the country. The problem stemmed not from a lack in the annual budget (Rhode Island ranked twelfth nationwide in the amount spent per patient) but in the inability to raise capital funds to match federal programs.

In 1962, the General Hospital and State Hospital for Mental Diseases merged to become the Rhode Island Medical Center. The former became the Center General Hospital and the latter the Institute of Mental Health. In so doing, Rhode Island was the first state to create therapy units for its mentally ill, an approach pioneered at the Center General Hospital. As a result, four buildings housing elderly patients were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Cranston General Hospital in order to remove the stigma of residing in a mental hospital.

In 1967, the Medical Center was divided. The Center General Hospital was designated to serve as an infirmary for the prison and the Institute of Mental Health. Both hospitals are administered by a new Department of Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals, In 1977, the IMH was divided into nine units to deal with specific categories and regions of patients. The institution is currently undergoing another philosophical re-orientation, encouraging group homes away from the environment of Howard. The extent of this change will very likely depend on federal support, but if carried out extensively, it will help to redefine the role of Howard just as previous changes in attitude have.


The Colony House

The Newport Colony House is the fourth oldest statehouse still standing in the United States. It was designed by builder/architect Richard Munday, who also designed Trinity Church and the Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House in Newport. The Colony House was built between 1736 and 1739 by Benjamin Wyatt, and tradition maintains that a great number of African-Americans were employed in its construction.

Council Chamber. Photo by Aaron Usher III.

The building replaced a smaller wooden courthouse built about 1687. The Colony House was constructed as part of the movement to bring formal town planning to Newport, which until then had developed in haphazard fashion. It was intended to help transform the Parade, as Washington Square was then named, into an elegant public space in keeping with the traditions of English cities. The design of the Colony House is derived from the English Georgian style popularized by the architect Sir Christopher Wren, but its floor plan follows the customary layout of English town or guild halls, which often had an open marketplace on the ground floor and civic offices on the second floor.

Many important events associated with the shaping of the United States occurred at the Colony House. In 1761, the death of George II and the ascension of George III was announced from the balcony. In 1766, citizens of Newport celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act in and around the Colony House. In January and May of 1773, the building served as the meeting site of the Commission of Inquiry into the burning of the British revenue schooner Gaspee by Patriots in 1772. On July 20, 1776, Major John Handy read the Declaration of Independence from the front steps. During the British occupation of Newport from 1776 to 1779, the Colony House was used as a barracks.

Second floor of the Colony House. Photo by Aaron Usher III.

After liberating Newport from the British, the French used the building as a hospital. It is often said that a French chaplain celebrated the first public Roman Catholic mass in Rhode Island in the Colony House, although there is no physical evidence of that. In 1781, the Great Hall on the first floor was the location of a banquet given by General Rochambeau to honor George Washington. Throughout the 19th century, the Colony House was used in May of each year for “Lection Day” festivities. On this day, the results of the Rhode Island April elections were announced, the General Assembly convened ceremonially, and officials were inaugurated. Visitors from all over Rhode Island came to Newport to participate in victory celebrations, political negotiations, and party conflicts. Newporters considered it a more important holiday than Christmas.

First floor of the Colony House.

The Colony House served as the primary state house of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations from its completion in 1739 until 1901, when the new state house in Providence opened. From 1901 to 1926 it was the Newport County Courthouse. Between 1926 and 1932, the building was restored by architect Norman Isham, who simultaneously worked on two other nearby colonial buildings: The Brick Market and the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House. The Colony House contains a portrait of George Washington, painted by Gilbert Stuart. In 1962, the building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Colony House is owned by the State of Rhode Island and managed by the Newport Historical Society.


Places in RI Suffrage History

Photo: Library of Congress
Congressional Union for Woman's Suffrage, National Summer Headquarters, 128 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, R. I.

250 Hope Street, Providence

250 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906
In 1914 Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales opened their business school Johnson & Wales in Gertrude Johnson's home at 250 Hope Street, Providence. The school soon outgrew these quarters and moved on. 250 Hope Street across the street from the Moses Brown School is now a multi-family home.

Connection to Suffrage History
A 1920 Membership Brochure for The United League of Women Voters of Rhode Island lists 250 Hope Street, Providence as its Temporary Headquarters. The group was formed under that name October 8, 1920 because while multiple state suffrage organizations were all right with NAWSA, it was not all right with the new National League of Women Voters which was organizing its structure along the lines of government - federal, state, and local so the newly forming League of Women Voters organizations had to agree on a single state organization. The new organization apparently did not use the RIWSA and RI College Equal Suffrage League's office in the Butler Exchange nor the RI Suffrage Party's office at 87 Weybosset Street. Top

394 Angell Street, Providence

394 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906
According to real estate listings 394 Angell St. built in 1890 is currently a condo/coop zoned for mixed use/Primary Residence & Commercial.

Connection to Suffrage History
394 Angell Street was the home of Sara M. and James W. Algeo. Shortly after their marriage in 1907, Mrs. George D. Gladding came to the door to recruit Algeo's help with the College Equal Suffrage League in Rhode Island. From that beginning, Algeo went on to become one of the foremost Woman Suffragists in Rhode Island leading the RI College Suffrage League and the RI Woman Suffrage party. Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst was among the notable suffrage guests in Algeo's home. After Rhode Island ratified the 19th Amendment Algeo was a delegate to the Congress of the International Suffrage Alliance in Geneva, Switzerland in 1920, and she wrote The Story of a Sub-Pioneer, an extensive history and personal memoire of Women's Suffrage in Rhode Island. Top

Bell Street Chapel

5 Bell Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02909
James Eddy was a wealthy businessman who retired to an estate in Providence, the city of his birth. In his retirement Eddy gave generously to social causes such as abolition, temperance, and women’s rights. Beyond that, he also sought religious truth, and had a chapel built at the gates to his estate on Bell Street as a temple dedicated “to God, to truth, and humanity.” Unfortunately, Eddy died before a ministry was established in the chapel.

Connection to Suffrage History
Anna Garlin (Spencer) was Corresponding Secretary for the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association from 1872 to 1878 when she moved to Wisconsin with her husband. She was a well-known social activist and thinker. After James Eddy’s death, the Trustees for his estate requested that Spencer return to Rhode Island to turn James Eddy’s dreams for his chapel into reality. Upon her return, she rejoined the Suffrage Association and was First Vice-President under Elizabeth Buffum Chace for whom she acted as a surrogate as Buffum Chace’s health declined. Spencer was the first woman to be ordained as a minister in Rhode Island. She wrote the entry for Rhode Island in History of Woman Suffrage:1883-1900. Susan B. Anthony spoke at the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage association's 1901 annual meeting held at Bell Street Chapel. The Chapel hosted the 29th annual meeting of the RIWSA in October 1906. Top

Bristol Ferry/Portsmouth

The Bristol Ferry Town Common where livestock was kept while waiting for the ferry still exists at the end of Bristol Ferry Road.

"The Bristol Ferry area is a natural neighborhood bounded by the Town Pond and shoreline of the bay. The Social Studio and the Town Commons served as hubs of community gathering. Bristol Ferry was the transportation hub of Portsmouth. This was before the Mt. Hope Bridge was built and Bristol Ferry landing was a junction of railroads, steamboats, and ferries. The Fall River Line stopped there for easy access to New York. Bristol Ferry was a cultural and artistic center for Portsmouth. There was a community of artists."

Connection to Suffrage History
"Among the nerve centers of suffrage activity in Rhode Island the Newport County Woman Suffrage League had a definite place from its founding in 1908. The League's work was at first largely carried on by an active group of philanthropic women of Bristol Ferry. " Julia Ward Howe often attended meetings and hosted the group at Oak Glen. Sarah J. Eddy, who is known for her portrait of her guest Susan B. Anthony, was another noted resident in the area. Top

Churchill House

155 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02912
"Churchill House at 155 Angell Street was built for the Rhode Island Women’s Club in 1907 and named for Elizabeth Kittredge Churchill, founder of the Club. Later occupied by Katherine Gibbs School, the building was acquired by Brown in 1970. In 1972 the Afro-American Society, the Afro-American Studies Program, and the Graduate Minority Association moved into the building."

Connection to Suffrage History
"November 5, 1908, Churchill House was site of a regular meeting of RIWSA. The topic of discussion 'The National Convention at Buffalo from the Viewpoint of the Rhode Island Delegate'" On December 11, 1908 RIWSA celebrated its 40th Anniversary at Churchill House. The Woman Suffrage Party held a gala ball at the club in May 1914. Top

Davis Park – Chalkstone Avenue

50 Raymond St, Providence, RI 02908
Davis Park is only as shadow of what it was when the Thomas Davis estate was donated to the City of Providence for a park. Photos in the Providence Public Library’s Digital Collections show an impressive home with numerous outbuildings in a rustic looking area. After World War II a great deal of the land was donated to the Federal Government for the VA Hospital.

Connection to Suffrage History
Paulina Wright Davis was a noted early suffragist who in the late 1830s worked with feminists Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ernestine Rose. Her work contributed to the passage of the New York Married Women’s Property Act in 1848. After she married Thomas Davis in 1849, she moved to Rhode Island.

Two years after Seneca Falls she both planned and chaired the First National Women’s Rights Convention held on October 23-24, 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Davis also founded The Una in 1853, the first feminist periodical that was owned, written, edited, and published entirely by a woman. Newspaper publisher Sayles, Miller and Simons 15 Market Square were the original printers for The Una. The building no longer exists, but old maps indicate it was in a building opposite Market House. Paulina Wright Davis and Elizabeth Buffum Chace founded the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association in 1868. Davis was the first president of the RIWSA.

The Davises earlier owned a home at 503 ½ and 507 ½ Chalkstone Avenue which still exists behind another row of houses. Top

Easton's Beach

175 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI 02840
Easton's Beach, also known as First Beach, is a 3/4 mile long stretch of sand on the Atlantic Ocean with a board walk, ball room, and other amenities maintained by the City of Newport.

Connection to Suffrage History
In August 1912 Alva Vanderbilt Belmont hosted a dance at Easton's Beach in honor of Inez Milholland a Suffragist best known as the beautiful woman on a white horse at the head of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession prior to President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration.
After Belmont's grand Conference of Great Women at Marble House which featured her daughter Consuelo the Duchess of Marlborough in July 1914, anti-suffrage forces hosted an opposing event September 14, 1914 at Easton's Beach. Top

Manning Hall Chapel - Brown University

21 Prospect St. Providence, RI 02912
"Manning Hall, opened in 1834, was the third major building constructed on Brown University's campus. Designed as a double-sized replica of the Doric-order temple of Diana-Propylea in Eleusis, Manning Hall originally housed the university's first free-standing library and its chapel. Currently, Manning Hall houses the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology's exhibitions and Manning Chapel."

Connection to Suffrage History
Manning Hall was site of January 24, 1911 meeting of RIWSA with talk titled "The Nation's Need of Woman's Vote" by Professor Henry S. Nash of Cambridge, MA. This hall also served as site of Rhode Island Progressive League meeting in 1913 in which Harvard professor Albert Bushnell Hart spoke on woman suffrage." Top

Marble House

596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
According to the Preservation Society of Newport County
"Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. It was a summer house, or "cottage", as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century."

Connection to Suffrage History
Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont elevated the Vanderbilts into the upper reaches of New York society through her mastery of publicity. When she embraced the Suffragist cause, she immediately realized the immense drawing power of Marble House and began using it as a venue for Suffrage events like, but not limited to, the Suffrage lectures in 1909 which included tours of the mansion and the 1914 Conference of Great Women which featured her daughter Consuelo, the Duchess of Marlborough as well as tours. Top

Mathewson Street Church

Connection to Suffrage History
May 15,1900 the church hosted the RIWSA's annual meeting.
April 19,1912 the church was the site of a joint meeting of the RIWSA and the College Equal Suffrage League. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association was the guest speaker.
February 17, 1914 the Rhode Island Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage held a lecture by Miss Lucy Price at the church. Top

Newport Casino Theatre

9 Freebody St, Newport, RI 02840
The Casino in Newport is now mainly thought of as the home of the Tennis Hall of Fame. However, when the Casino opened in 1880 it was a complete entertainment complex with lodging, shopping, entertainment, and of course - tennis. The Casino Theatre served as both a 500-capacity removable seat theater and a ballroom for dances. The Theatre is now home to Salve Regina's dance, music, and theatre arts programs.

Connection to Suffrage History
On Thurday August 11, 1887, the New England Woman Suffrage Association held a Woman Suffrage Convention in the Casino at Newport, R.I. "for the purpose of gathering the friends of Rhode Island together for social intercourse and general business." Julia Ward Howe one of the New England Woman Suffrage Association's founders presided. Top

Newport Opera House

19 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840
Currently owned by the Newport Performing Arts Center which is attempting to renovate the Newport Opera House to serve as home for its programs, the Opera House was originally built by Patrick Shanahan in 1867 as an amenity for his elegant hotel Perry House in Washington Square.

Connection to Suffrage History
On March 25, 1887 an event in favor of the RI Woman Suffrage amendment which would be voted on in the April 6, 1887 general election was held at the Opera House. Julia Ward Howe, Mary F. Eastman, and Henry B. Blackwell were among the featured guests. Unfortunately, the amendment was soundly defeated. Top

Oak Glen

745 Union Avenue, Portsmouth 02871
Oak Glen was the final residence of Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Howe was born and raised in New York City and spent most of her married life in Boston. However, her Ward family roots were in Rhode Island and the Howe family spent many summers in the Newport area with their Ward relatives. Oak Glen is now a private residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Connection to Suffrage History
When the proposed 14th Amendment gave all males over the age of 21 citizenship rights and equal protection under the law, Women Suffragists were outraged by an amendment that specifically excluded them. This also meant that women suffragists had to decide whether to support the subsequent 15th Amendment which gave Black men (but not women of any race) the right to vote.

Howe a noted Suffragist supported the amendment (as did most RI Suffragists), and she helped found the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 because the National Woman Suffrage Association would not support the 15th Amendment. Howe was editor of Woman's Journal, a widely read suffragist magazine president of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association and president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association.

When the Newport County Woman Suffrage League was formed in 1907, Howe frequently hosted their meetings at Oak Glen. After Howe’s death, her daughter Maud Howe Elliot, who became President of the Newport County Woman Suffrage League, lived at Oak Glen and held meetings there. Top

Old State House

150 Benefit Street, Providence 02903
“The Old State House on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, known also as Providence Sixth District Court House, Providence Colony House, Providence County House, or Rhode Island State House is located on 150 Benefit Street. It is a brick Georgian-style building completed largely in 1762. It was used as the meeting place for the colonial and state legislatures for 149 years.” The Old State House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and the College Hill Historic Landmark District, designated in 1971.

Connection to Suffrage History
"In 1884, by unanimous vote of the Assembly, the State House was granted for the first time for a woman suffrage convention. Four sessions were held in the Hall of the House of Representatives, and Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Henry B. B. Blackwell, William Lloyd Garrison, Mary F. Eastman and other addressed great throngs of people who filled the seats, occupied all the standing room and overflowed into the lobbies." December 3-4, 1884 The event was planned by Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Lillie Chace Wyman. Top

Pembroke Chapel

172 Meeting Street, Providence, RI 02912
"Pembroke Hall was the first building erected for the use of the Women’s College. The all-purpose building served the social, religious, academic, and athletic needs of the Women’s College. The chapel of the Women’s College is a long, wide room, well lighted by many windows."

Connection to Suffrage History
"Susan B. Anthony spoke to the women students of Pembroke College on October 10,1901 about the differences between woman's education of today and sixty years ago." Top

Providence Public Library (central library building)

225 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903
The Providence Public Library's classic Renaissance building at 225 Washington St. opened in 1900. In 1954 a massive addition was completed facing Empire Street. The library was designated the Rhode Island Statewide Reference Resource Center in 1989.

Connection to Suffrage History
Susan B. Anthony died Mar 13, 1906. On April 9, 1906 RIWSA held an event in honor of Anthony at the Providence Public Library with a speech written by Julia Ward Howe, read by Mrs. Mary Homer. Top

Roger Williams Park Casino

1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, RI 02907
Roger Williams Park was established on the last of the original land granted in 1638 to Roger Williams by the Narragansett chief Canonicus. Betsy Williams, a descendant of Roger Williams, bequeathed the family farm to the City of Providence in 1872.

Connection to Suffrage History
The RI Woman Suffrage Party held an all day Women's Independence Day celebration in the park on May 2, 1914. Top

Sayles Hall - Brown University

81 Waterman St, Providence, RI 02912
"Built in 1881, Sayles Hall was built with a donation from W.F. Sayles to memorialize his son, William Clark Sayles, who died at Brown in 1876. The granite and brownstone building took over the function of chapel from Manning Hall and also served as the University’s largest assembly hall for many years."

Connection to Suffrage History
"Sayles Hall on Brown University Campus hosted numerous lectures on woman suffrage including a series of lectures in the mid-1890s under the title "Woman's Contribution to the Progress of the World. Lectures included Abby Goold Woolson, Mary A. Livermore, Lillie Devereux Blake, Lillie Chace Wyman, Alice Stone Blackwell, Mary F. Eastman, Prof. Katherine Hanscom and the Rev. Anna Garlin Spencer. Also Mrs. Annie Cobden Sanderson of England spoke at Sayles Hall in December 1907 and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt in 1916" Top

State House

82 Smith Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903
"The Rhode Island State House is the capitol of the state of Rhode Island, located on the border of the Downtown and Smith Hill sections of Providence. It is a neoclassical building which houses the Rhode Island General Assembly and the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and general treasurer of Rhode Island. The building is policed by the Rhode Island Capitol Police and is on the National Register of Historic Places."

Connection to Suffrage History
Over the years the State House was the scene of intense lobbying for Women's Suffrage. In 1917, the Presidential Suffrage for Women passed, and on January 6, 1920 Governor Beeckman signed Rhode Island's ratification of the 19th Amendment. "On May 17, 1920, the Rhode Island Equal Suffrage Association concluded its work. A procession of women marched through the streets of Providence carrying the records of the organization for fifty years, which were deposited in the archives of the State House with impressive ceremony."

League of Women Voters Suffrage papers exist at the RI Historical Society. Top

Valley Falls – Valley Falls Heritage Park

45 Broad Street, Cumberland, RI 02864
Valley Falls was originally a mill village on both sides of the Valley Falls on the Blackstone River. The village is now divided between Cumberland and Central Falls. (The Central Falls for which the city of Central Falls is named are further south on the Blackstone River.) Valley Falls Heritage Park is built amid the ruins of the Valley Falls Company mill complex on the Cumberland side. On the Central Falls side of the river, the remains of the Valley Falls Company Mills are now a housing complex.

Connection to Suffrage History
Elizabeth Buffum Chace was a noted abolitionist and suffragist. Her husband Samuel was the son of Oliver Chace the founder of the Valley Falls Company, and the couple lived up the street from the mill on the Central Falls side of the river at the corner of Broad and Hunt (map). Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Paulina Wright Davis founded the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association in 1868. Chace was president of the RIWSA from 1870 until her death in 1899. In 1887 Chace led a spirited effort to pass a women's suffrage referendum in Rhode Island. Despite impressive support from prominent people, the referendum was soundly defeated. The home of Chace’s daughter, Elizabeth "Lillie" Buffum Chace Wyman who followed in her mother’s footsteps, remains at 1192 Broad Street, Central Falls (behind some businesses). Top


TIMELINE: Gay and lesbian history in Rhode Island, and nationally

What we know about gay history in America begins here, in Rhode Island, with a gay sex scandal that rocked the U.S. Navy and tarnished the reputation of a president.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- What we know about gay history in America begins here, in Rhode Island, with a gay sex scandal that rocked the U.S. Navy and tarnished the reputation of a president. Half a century later, the gay rights movement rode into Providence on the back of a church. Those early activists drove a sweeping political and cultural agenda so unthinkable that the pioneers never thought they'd live to see it -- a time when their lives would be as fabulous and as ordinary as anyone's.

Take a look back at a timeline of events in LGBT history, here in Rhode Island and across the country:

1919: The U.S. Navy begins a sting operation to investigate reports of homosexual sex among sailors in Newport. To collect evidence, the Navy sends young sailors undercover to solicit sex from suspected homosexuals. Assistant Navy Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt is accused of mishandling the investigation.

1924: The first gay civil rights group, the Society for Human Rights, is founded in Chicago. The group produces the first known publication for gays in America, Friendship and Freedom. Police arrest the members of the society a few weeks later.

1950: Harry Hay founds the Mattachine Society in California. It becomes one of the first gay rights organizations in the United States.

1955: The first lesbian rights organization, Daughters of Bilitis, is founded in San Francisco.

October 1968: The Rev. Troy Perry, who had been thrown out of his evangelical church after admitting his homosexuality, founds the Metropolitan Community Church in California, as a ministry for gays and lesbians. The MCC quickly spreads nationally.

June 1969: A routine New York police raid on a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, leads to unprecedented riots and fights between police and drag queens and other gays. Rioters shout " Gay power!" in the violent demonstration, considered the birth of the modern gay rights movement.

1972: Bob Thibeault opens Club Gallery in Providence, a gay nightclub that also drew straight clientele. In the '60s, he brought a club to Smithfield and broke a taboo against same-sex dancing.

February 1973: The Rev. Arthur Cazeault celebrates the first service of the Metropolitan Community Church in Rhode Island.

March 1974: The Rhode Island State Council of Churches grants "affiliated status" to the local Metropolitan Community Church. In protest, Line Baptist Church in Foster withdraws from the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island.

April 1974: The American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island appoints a panel to study whether homosexuals can lead Christian lives. The task force is chaired by the Rev. Robert Drechsler, pastor of Shawomet Baptist Church in Warwick, who at the time was living with the secret of being gay. The task force would conclude that "homosexuals are persons for whom Christ died."

June 1976: Denied use of the Old State House on Benefit Street for a symposium on gay issues and denied permission to hold a pride parade in Providence, a gay rights group sues in U.S. District Court. Federal Judge Raymond J. Pettine rules for the gay group. A parade of about 70 marchers goes forth around Kennedy Plaza on June 26.

August 1977: The Rev. Robert Drechsler tells his congregation that he is gay. He must leave his job, but writes in parting to his congregation: "Perhaps some day we will be able to accept one another, each as a child of God, loved by God."

May 1978: Providence's MCC pastor, the Rev. Marge Ragona, stages an eight-day hunger strike on the steps of the federal courthouse in Providence, to support the city's proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that would include a provision to protect gays the ordinance passed without a gay provision.

May 30, 1980: National headlines focus again on a gay issue in Rhode Island. Cumberland High School student Aaron Fricke goes to federal court and wins the right to take a boy, Paul Guilbert, to the high school prom.

1982: Options magazine is launched as a newsletter for the gay community. Wisconsin is the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. In July, scientists and gay community leaders in Washington, D.C., give the name AIDS to a disease appearing among some gay men.

1983: The Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights is founded to begin the push for anti-discrimination protection in law.

1984: Legislation to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination is introduced in the Rhode Island legislature by Rep. Linda J. Kushner. That bill and similar legislation filed every year would fail for the next decade.

August 1985: Rhode Island Gov. Edward D. DiPrete issues an executive order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in state government.

September 1985: Bowing to pressure from Bishop Louis E. Gelineau and others, the Providence City Council rejects a civil rights proposal that would have protected gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing and jobs.

October 1987: The national Project AIDS quilt is shown publicly for the first time in Washington, D.C. Its first panel was sewn for Marvin Feldman, from Providence, who died of AIDS in 1986.

1993: Actor Tom Hanks wins the Oscar for Best Actor for playing a gay man with AIDS in the movie Philadelphia.

March 1995: Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln C. Almond tells The Providence Journal that he supports the long-debated antidiscrimination bill, now in its 12th year in the General Assembly. The bill passes and Almond signs it, making Rhode Island the ninth state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

1996: The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton, bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

1997: Providence Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. appoints the city's first liaison to the gay community.

1998: Rhode Island repeals the 102-year-old law that made sodomy a felony.

2000: Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signs legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions. The Green Mountain state is the first to offer marriage-like benefits to homosexuals.

November 2002: David N. Cicilline is elected as the first openly gay mayor of Providence.

May 2004: Forced by its state Supreme Court, Massachusetts becomes the first state to allow gay couples to marry.

April 2005: The Connecticut Legislature legalizes civil unions for same-sex couples, while restricting marriage to homosexuals.

September 2006: A Massachusetts court rules that city and town clerks may issue marriage licenses to Rhode Islanders. Celis Winsor and Shannon Donovan celebrate the ruling at a Marriage Equality RI event.

February 2007: Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issues a legal opinion that same sex marriages performed in Massachusetts are valid in Rhode Island.

June 2007: With 45 votes from the 200-seat Massachusetts Legislature, a proposed repeal of gay marriage fails to qualify for the 2008 statewide ballot. Opponents of gay marriage had gathered 170,000 signatures toward the ban, which needed at least 50 votes in consecutive legislative sessions to make the ballot. It had received 62 votes in the previous session.

December 2007: The Rhode Island Supreme Court rules that two women who married in Massachusetts cannot divorce in Rhode Island.

January 2008: A civil unions bill signed last May by New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch takes effect, leaving Rhode Island the only New England state with no recognition of same-sex relationships in the law.

Oct. 10, 2008: The Connecticut Supreme Court orders same-sex marriage legalized.

Jan. 4, 2011: In his inaugural speech, Governor Chafee reiterates his long-standing support for same-sex marriage.

July 2, 2011: Governor Chafee signs into law legislation legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples. Chafee says the bill didn't go far enough and vowed to continue fighting for full marriage rights for same-sex couples.

July 9, 2011: Aaron Couto and Ray Daignault, of Burrillville, are joined in Rhode Island's first civil union.

May 14, 2012: Governor Chafee affirms Rhode Island's recognition of out-of-state same sex marriage by signing Executive Order 12-02, mandating that all state departments, agencies and officers "shall recognize the lawful marriages of same-sex couples as valid for any purpose arising within the execution of its duties."

Jan. 22, 2013: House Judiciary Committee votes unanimously to approve same-sex marriage, only the second vote on the issue in 16 years.

Jan. 24, 2013: Full House approves same-sex marriage, 51 to 19.

April 23, 2013: Senate Judiciary Committee approves same-sex marriage, 7 to 4.

April 24, 2013: R.I. Senate approves same-sex marriage, 26 to 12.

April 30, 2013: House Judiciary Committee approves same-sex marriage unanimously.

May 2, 2013: The R.I. House votes 56 to 15 in favor of same-sex marriage, sending the matching House and Senate bills to Governor Lincoln Chafee. The governor signed the bills shortly after, in a signing ceremony on the steps of the State House before a jubilant crowd.

June 26, 2013: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to legally married gay and lesbian couples, and clears the way for gay marriage in California.

Aug. 1, 2013: First day same-sex marriages can take place in Rhode Island.

Oct. 6, 2014: Rejecting appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans on gay marriage, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively made such marriages legal in 30 states, up from 19 and the District of Columbia, taking in every region of the country.

June 26, 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court declares that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, a historic culmination of two decades of litigation over gay marriage and gay rights generally. Gay and lesbian couples already could marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's 5-4 ruling means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

March 21, 2016: With its School Committee's unanimous approval, Cumberland becomes the first public school district in Rhode Island to have a formal policy protecting transgender students.

May 13, 2016: The Obama administration issues a landmark directive obligating public schools to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity. Public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. The directive was issued amid a court fight between the federal government and North Carolina.

June 6, 2016: The Rhode Island Department of Education releases comprehensive guidelines to protect transgender students, including language urging schools to allow a student to use the bathroom that corresponds to his or her gender identity. The guidance isn't a mandate, however.

Feb. 22, 2017: The Trump administration ends federal protections for transgender students that instructed schools to allow them to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities. Without the directive issued under President Obama, it is up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law.

July 26, 2017: President Donald Trump announces he will ban transgender people from serving in the military in any capacity, an abrupt reversal of an Obama administration decision to allow transgender people to serve openly.

Dec. 11, 2017: The Pentagon announces transgender recruits will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite opposition from President Donald Trump.

March 23, 2018: President Donald Trump releases an order banning most transgender troops from serving in military except under &ldquolimited circumstances.&rdquo

April 17, 2018: Rhode Island Department of Education implements regulations requiring all school districts to have comprehensive policies to protect the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming students and comply with federal civil rights laws.


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