History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations
Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia 1878.
|Residence of the late Benjamin Hoppin, Esq.
Erected 1815, torn down 1875
|Old State House, North Main Street, erected 1759||First Baptist Church, North Main Street
|Res. of Nat'l Grant, 163 Broadway, Providence, R. I.||Music Hall, Providence, R. I.
|Breck Block, North Main Street, Providence, R. I.
33 T. & W. Breck
37 New York Bird Store
|Aldrich House, Providence, R.I., A. W. Aldrich, Prop.||The Great Storm at Providence, September 23, 1815
[also called "the great gale"]
|Roger Williams Monument, erected 1877|
|Hoppin Homestead Building, Prov., R. I. Warner's Polytechnic
Boston Grocery Store
Walsh Dry Goods
|Butler Hospital for the Insane, Providence, R. I.||The Rhode Island Hospital, Providence|
|Res. of David Gowdey, Esq., Providence||
In Memory of Samuel Willard Bridgham, first mayor of the city of Providence, son of Dr. Joseph Bridgham, and Martha, his wife, born in Rehoboth, now Seekonk, May 4, 1774 and died in Providence, Dec. 28, 1840
For nearly forty years he was a lawyer, eminent for ability and assiduity,
a steadfast supporter of religious institutions, an active friend of education
he was nineteen years president of the Benevolent Congregational Society
eight years president of the school committee of Providence, Nineteen years
a trustee and twelve years chancellor of Brown University.
|pp. 253 - 259.
The history of Providence is so intimately connected with the life and early settlement of Roger Williams and his associates, that the history of one is that of all. Already have we given an extended account of the life of this distinguished personage, his banishment from Massachusetts, and the trial and hardship he encountered in laying the foundations of his little colony at Providence. We can only give, in this connection, a brief summary of those initial events; note a few of the more important developments in the rise, growth, and prosperity of the town, and its subsequent incorporation into a large and flourishing commercial and manufacturing city.
It was first settled in 1636, by that eminent personage and distinguished advocate of religious liberty, Roger Williams, and his associates, William Harris, John Smith, Joshua Verin, Thomas Angell, and Francis Wickes. Mr. Williams entertained sentiments, both upon religion and politics, that were at variance with the established ecclesiastical and political government of the Massachusetts and Plymouth Colonies. Being firm in his convictions, and unable to be suppressed in the promulgation of his peculiar views, he was several times apprehended and brought before the magistrates upon the charge of heresy, and required to recant his dangerous and heretical sentiments or be banished out of the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Colony. The great principle of soul-liberty was so deeply rooted in his very nature, that the persecutions and trials of his fellow countrymen had no effect in changing his opinions, and he was finally banished from their midst, as a dangerous element in the formation of New England society. This decree of banishment was pronounced Nov. 3, 1635. On account of feeble health, permission was sought and granted, for him to remain until spring, when he should depart, and return no more within their jurisdiction, upon penalty of death.
Deprived of his church at Salem, and debarred the privilege of publicly preaching to his people, he retired into the sacred enclosure of his own house, where he thought to remain undisturbed by the cruel persecutions of his bigoted and misguided countrymen. In this, however, he was destined to disappointment, as, shortly after, an officer was sent to seize him and convey him on board of a vessel about to sail for England. Anticipating their design, he started out upon his second exile, three days prior to the arrival of the officer.
Thus was he compelled to leave wife and children and all of his endearing connections with his church and people at Salem, in the inclement season of winter, to battle alone with the trials and sufferings of a forest solitude. He pushed his weary way to Providence, then a dense, frightful wilderness, and the abode of naught but the wild beasts and untutored savages. These rude children of nature were, however, far more humane than his persecutors, and received him with a welcome and hospitality that puts to shame the civilities practiced by his more intelligent and so-called Christian countrymen.
He honorably purchased of the natives a large tract of land and immediately commenced a settlement, which he very appropriately named Providence, in recognition of the power that had so tenderly watched over him and preserved him from the dangers and trials through which he had passed. The infant colony soon began to increase, and early exhibited a spirit of political and religious toleration that was subsequently engrafted into the establishment of its permanent government, and that has remained to this day and forms the chief glory of Rhode Island history.
The mistaken spirit of intolerance that prevailed in the Massachusetts Colony caused many to seek a home within the new settlement of Providence, and immigration kept steadily pouring in until the new colony rivalled that of her eastern neighbor. Almost with the very commencement of the Colony very liberal and ample provisions were made for the security of religion and the rights of conscience. Hence the seeds of these principles were thus early planted in a fruitful soil, and cultivated and cherished with a jealous care. They were allowed to take deep root in this virgin soil, and beneath the genial rays of spiritual freedom, or soul-liberty, they continued to grow, producing in each succeeding age the rich fruits of charity, peace, harmony, and a spirit of toleration in all matters pertaining to religious concernments.
Roger Williams was the first to break in upon the bigotry and superstition of the early Puritans and to establish a commonwealth where freedom of conscience should be granted to all, and each be permitted to worship according to his own peculiar religious sentiments. The principles thus early established have remained unimpaired, and the name of Roger Williams is enrolled high upon the scroll of the world's illustrious benefactors, and to him more than others is due the establishment of that liberal sentiment and charitable toleration, in matters of politics and religion, that to-day form so characteristic a feature in all New England society.
Providence originally comprised the whole county settled in 1636. In 1832, it was incorporated as a city. Portions of the town of Cranston were re-annexed in June, 1868, and March, 1873. Portions of North Providence were re-annexed in June, 1767, March, 1873, and May, 1874, and now form the tenth ward of the city. It is the metropolis of the State, and the second commercial port in New England. It is situated in the southeastern section of the county of Providence, and is bounded as follows: on the north by North Providence and Pawtucket; on the east by the Seekonk River; on the south by Cranston; and on the west by Johnston. It is distant about thirty miles northwest from Newport, the second city in the State, and the finest watering-place in the world; forty-two miles southwest from Boston, the commercial centre of New England; and about seventy miles east of Hartford, Conn.; and at the head of navigation on the Narragansett Bay and Providence River. Thus situated, the city of Providence possesses peculiar advantages for the development of vast commercial enterprises; and it only needs a well-directed energy, and a practicable outlay in the improvement of the harbor, and other means of water communication, to materially increase the new development of new commercial facilities, thus adding not only to the business interests of the city, but ensuring a rapid increase in population, and thus securing a permanent growth.
In the early history of the city, its navigation and commercial interests were quite important. Many of its most prominent merchants were engaged in shipping, and carried on an extensive maritime trade with the Indies, and many other parts of the world. Much of its present prosperity and wealth had their foundation in the successful development of this branch of commercial industry. Perhaps no place in the country is more noted for the intelligence, enterprise, industry, and perseverance of its early business men, than the city of Providence; and the energy and activity displayed to-day, in the multifarious avocations of its people, are none the less worthy of commendation, and stamp them indeed as worthy descendants of so illustrious an ancestry.
The shipping and maritime enterprises that were once so extensively carried on from this port, as indeed throughout the State, have been materially lessened by the introduction of other branches of industry. Still her sails are employed in quite an extensive coast traffic, and her wharves, for the greater portion of the year, are lined with fine steamers, that ply her river and beautiful bay, or run their regular trips to New York and other important points, laden with human freight and cargoes of commercial products. The numerous lines of railroad that centre here facilitate communication with all parts of manufacturing New England, and the growing agricultural West, and render the city of Providence one of the most important business centres in the country. The commercial interests of Providence are, to a certain extent, different from those of any other place in the country; connected with, and largely supported by, the vast manufacturing interests within its own limits, as well as its immediate vicinity, requiring the employment of vast capital in the successful operation of these immense enterprises, it exhibits a degree of commercial prosperity and possesses an aggregate of wealth unsurpassed by any place of its size in the Union.
There are over a thousand streets in Providence, a very large number for a city of its population. They are generally narrow, and rather irregularly laid out. Some of them are quite crooked, and many of them are short thoroughfares, especially those running through from one main street to another, and are not unfrequently designated as alleys or lanes. The principal streets radiate from what is called Market Square, and are: Westminster Street, extending into High Street, which leads to Olneyville and Johnston, a distance of three miles; Weybosset, uniting with Broad at Dorrance Street, forms from this point a wide and continuous avenue to Pawtuxet, a distance of about four miles; Broad and Greenwich streets, with Reservoir Avenue, eighty feet wide, reaching to Sockanosset Reservoir, a distance of five and one-half miles; Elmwood Avenue is another long and wide avenue, running south from Greenwich Street, upon which may be found many beautiful sites for private residences; Eddy Street, uniting with Broad near the Cranston line; Cranston Street and Cranston road; Broadway, eighty feet wide; Atwell's Avenue with Manton Avenue, to Manton; and Charles Street, all on the west side; -- North and South Main streets, with Pawtucket Avenue, Thayer Street, and East Avenue; Butler Avenue, and Swan Point road; Blackstone Avenue, skirting the shore of the Seekonk River. All these are several miles long, and branch out to various points in the suburbs of the city.
The principal retail business streets are Westminster, High, North and South Main streets. On South Water, Dyer, Canal, Weybosset, Broad, Pine, Custom House streets, and Exchange Place, or Monument Square, are to be found the principal wholesale merchants in cotton, wool, dry goods, grain, groceries, paints, oils, drugs, medicines, drystuffs, and manufacturers' supplies. The greater portion of the elegant and costly residences are to be found on Benefit, College, Prospect, Hope, and the more elevated streets on the east side, while on the west side, numerous fine residences may be found near the centre of the city, and also on High, Broadway, and many other streets leading out into the western suburbs.
The streets in the business centre of the city are ornamented with many fine and substantial commercial buildings, while numerous old and inferior ones are being torn down, and their sites occupied by other large and beautiful commercial edifices, which will give to the central portion of Providence a solidity and an air of elegance hitherto unknown. A special mention of these more important structures will be found under the head of Public Buildings, Business Blocks, Halls, &c.
The city contains many fine public and charitable institutions, established by the munificent charities of many of its wealthy citizens, many of whom have long since passed away; and these magnificent institutions stand as noble monuments to the memory of their generous donors. Its educational institutions, both public and private, maintain a high rank, and the intelligence and social culture of its people mark the influence they have exerted in moulding the superstructure of its present society. Brown University is one of the oldest, as it is among the most flourishing and respected, institutions in the United States. Men have in the past, and are to-day, occupying many exalted positions, not only in the councils of the State and the nation, but filling with honor many of the more ordinary professions and avocations of life, who have acquired their high literary attainments within its classic halls. Here are other institutions of learning, some of which will be found in the State part of this work, under the head of State Literary Institutions , &c., while others, belonging more properly to the educational instruction of pupils within the city, find record further on in the history of Providence, under the head of Providence Instruction.
The press of the city is represented by two daily issues, the ''Providence Daily Journal', a morning sheet, and the 'Evening Bulletin', both edited and published from the 'Journal' office. This company also publish the 'Manufacturers and Farmers' Journal', a semi-weekly, and also the 'Rhode Island Country Journal', a weekly. The 'Journal' is one of the oldest dailies in New England. The 'Providence Evening Press' is another daily, published by the Providence Press Company, to which has been added a daily publication entitled the 'Morning Star'. The 'Rhode Island Press' is a weekly issue, published by the same company. There are several other weekly and monthly publications issued in the city, prominent among which are the 'Sunday Dispatch', the 'Sun', the 'Temple of Honor', the 'Freemasons' Repository', &c.
Among the public parks, the Cove and Roger Williams Park are the only ones that command the attention of the citizens as places of promenade or public resort, although there are several small parks scattered throughout different portions of the city. The Cove is a beautiful basin of water, located near the fine large passenger depot that forms a junction for nearly all the great railroads that centre in Providence. It is surrounded with a fine promenade, adorned with an abundance of beautiful shade-trees. An ornamental fence surrounds the Cove, and at regular intervals are located gas-lamps, which are lighted in the evening, and give to this spot a beautiful and attractive appearance. Comfortable seats are interspersed through the grounds, and in the summer evenings it furnishes a place of resort for old and young, and hundreds avail themselves of this sylvan retreat to enjoy an evening's social promenade.
The Roger Williams Park embraces a tract lying in the extreme south part of Providence, and was a gift to the city by the late Betsy Williams, a descendant of the distinguished founder of the State. This generous donation was given upon condition that the citizens of Providence would erect a monument to commemorate the memory of this illustrious personage. The grounds are being tastefully laid out, the conditions of the gift have been fulfilled, and a large, beautiful monument, designed by Mr. Franklin Simmons, sculptor, of Rome, and executed under his directions, has been recently set up and dedicated with very impressive ceremonies. The monument is of granite, very tastefully executed, and is surmounted by a life-size statue of Roger Williams, in bronze, while upon the base, near the foot of the structure, stands the statue of History, in exultant attitude for the illustrious autograph she has written. The park contains one hundred and three acres, and, when completed, will present one of the most beautiful and enticing spots within the environs of the beautiful city of Providence.
The city is divided into ten wards, with a population of over one hundred thousand. Its municipal government is ably and judiciously managed, under the official direction of Thomas A. Doyle, who has held the office of mayor since 1865, with the exception of one year; a fact that not only demonstrates his great executive ability, but the high estimation in which he is held by his fellow-citizens. The city is protected against fire by an excellently arranged and equipped fire department, while its public peace is guarded by a large and efficient police department, whose members are a fine, gentlemanly body of men; and their faithfulness to the important trusts confided to their charge, and disregard of danger when duty calls, stamp them as worthy representatives of the true citizen, and class this force among the best organized and most efficient police department in New England. The city has an excellent water-supply, and numerous fountains are scattered throughout it, that furnish conveniences for quenching the thirst of man and beast. A more detailed history of these fine water-works will be found in the history of Cranston.
A fine view is obtained of the city as you approach it from the beautiful bay on the south, and a fine panoramic view may be obtained from Prospect Park on the east, and Smith's Hill and Mount Pleasant on the north. Providence, in the last half century, has rapidly advanced in all that tends to material prosperity, and her religious, educational, and benevolent institutions have kept pace with her commercial prosperity and growth in extent of territory and population. Situated at the head of a magnificent bay, whose shores are lined with numerous fine resorts, which furnish ample accommodations for the comfort and wants of the thousands of excursionists who daily frequent them in summer to enjoy the refreshing breezes from the ocean, and feast their voracious appetites at the world-renowned Rhode Island clam-bakes, and on other courses of refined and epicurean dishes. With all of the advantages with which she is surrounded, with the rapid development of all her varied interests, Providence presents to-day a commercial and financial centre second to none in New England.
Of the early business-men of Providence, and their manner of doing business, we know but little. We find that, during the fore part of the present century, the people were largely engaged in commerce, there being, in 1820, forty houses engaged in navigation, the number of vessels belonging to Providence being one hundred and thirty, having a tonnage of 20,692 tons; a number of which were engaged in the China trade. The exports from Rhode Island during that year, were $1,072,762. In 1820, there were twenty wholesale and retail dry-goods stores; one hundred and forty retail grocery, provision, and crockery stores; six hardware stores; one whole-sale crockery store; six book stores; three paper-hanging stores; ten shoe stores; six hat stores; three confectionery stores, and twelve public inns.
Among the business-men at that time, we find the names of Thomas P. Ives, Nicholas Brown, Elisha Dyer, Alexander Jones, William Blodgett, Peter Grinnell & Son, Potter & Russell, Jenkins & Mann, Watson & Gladding, Almy & Brown, Sampson Almy, Shubael Hutchins, Beckwith & Pearson, Aborn & Jackson, and many others. Cheapside was then the location of all the dry-goods business in the town, and famous all over the State with the young ladies of those days. The late General Martin Stoddard was a then a leading auctioneer. John N. Greene, father of the late Judge Albert G. Greene, was an accomplished architect and builder, and John Newman, long the sexton of the First Baptist Church, and remarkable for his astronomical knowledge, combined with his skill as a carpenter a thorough knowledge of architecture. He was the original Bickerstall, a name identified with a popular Rhode Island almanac. William Hanlin was an engraver and copper-plate printer, and Colonel James Burr carried on the business of saddle and harness making. In 1820, we find that James Joslin was a manufacturer of, and dealer in, cutlery; David Whipple, A. Buffum, and William Pabodie were dealers in hats; Stephen C. Smith, Aborn Kingman, Charles Hadwin & Co., Asa Ferguson, Emerson & Nelson, Noah Smith, Timothy Temple, and Sheldon & Mason dealt in boots and shoes; Woodman & Harshorn, Charles Robins, and Gideon Hatch were tailors; Joshua B. Wood and John Martin were brokers; Martin Robinson, John Johnson, Samuel West, Samuel F. Reed, and John Brewer were among the booksellers; John S. Barrow and William W. Pitman were sign-painters; Henry Cushman was a dealer in paper-hangings; Ebenezer Foster kept a boarding-house near the court-house; E. Calvin practiced dentistry; the Misses Burrough and Calder kept a young ladies' boarding-school; S. F. Bonfis gave instruction in French and Italian; and Moses Noyes had been a successful teacher for twenty years, and so on ad infinitum.
Since that period great changes have taken place; much of the old has passed away, and much of the new that everywhere meets our gaze, is as so many monuments of progress. Then, but few stately dwellings adorned the streets, and no school-buildings like those of the present time to tell of advancing educational ideas. Then there were no spacious business blocks, like the Barstow Block, Butler Exchange, Daniels Block, What Cheer, Arcade, and many others; and no bank buildings like the Bank of Commerce, and the Bank of North America. Then there was no railroad communication with Boston, Worcester, Newport, and New York; and then no lines of electric wire placed the people in speaking relations with all our vast country, and with most of the civilized world.
A brief summary of the leading business-interests of the city of to-day will prove of interest to many readers of our work, and serve to show the advance in the development of the city's growth and commercial prosperity. In 1878, we find that there are fifty-five wholesale and retail dry-goods stores; seventeen wholesale grocery houses, and three hundred and sixty-eight retail groceries; seventeen wholesale and retail hardware stores; fourteen crockery stores; twenty-seven book and paper-hanging stores; fifty wholesale and retail boot and shoe stores; fifty-eight clothing, hat, cap, and gents' furnishing stores; twenty-one jewelry stores; thirty-three confectionery stores; thirty wholesale and retail dealers in drugs and dyestuff; twenty-seven dealers and manufacturers of furniture; twenty-seven flour and grain dealers; two hundred and four wholesale and retail liquor-dealers ; sixty-seven merchant-tailors; sixty-six wholesale and retail dealers in millinery goods; one hundred and forty-four produce and provision dealers; twenty-five cotton and wool dealers; fifteen dealers in wooden and willow ware, and five carriage repositories.
Narragansett Hotel, a fine and commodious brick structure, and in all of its appointments displays a degree of elegance that places it in the front rank of New England's places of public entertainment.
City Hotel, No. 150 Broad Street, has long been known as a first-class house. It is a building of considerable magnitude, having accommodations for about one hundred and fifty guests. Mr. L. M. Thayer, its present proprietor, who understands the art of keeping a house of entertainment, spares no pains to serve his patrons, to their comfort and entire satisfaction. This house has numbered among its guests the distinguished men of both the past and present, and under its present management it merits and receives an increasing patronage.
Aldrich House, located at 31 and 33 Washington Street, is a fine brick and stone edifice, and was erected by Anson W. Aldrich, the present owner and proprietor. It contains all of the modern improvements, and has accommodations for about one hundred and fifty guests. A fine plate of this hotel will be found among the illustrations of the public buildings of Providence.
Thayer's Hotel, Nos. 46 and 48 Union Street, was formerly called the Adams House. In 1877, it was enlarged, re-furnished, and is now regarded as one of the first-class hotels in the city. Its management is at present under the supervision of Mr. A. Alger, formerly of the Benedict House, of Pawtucket. The gentlemanly and courteous clerk, Mr. George W. Cross, is the prince of good nature, and his genial ways and prompt attention to business, and care for the comfort and convenience of the guests, renders him decidedly popular among a large circle of city and commercial friends. No history of this house would be complete without a brief mention of Mr. Tom Davenport, the gentlemanly and polite caterer to the public, in the fine and commodious sample and billiard room that is connected with this house. His friends are legion, and his courses of 'Epicurean dishes', justly merit the popularity to which they have attained.
Central Hotel, Nos. 6 to 10 Canal Street, is a large brick structure, six stories in height, and is regarded as among the first-class hotels of the city. It is conducted on strictly temperance principles, and contains one hundred rooms. The present proprietors are Messrs. Hopkins & Sears.
Westminster Hotel, No. 261 Westminster Street, is a fine, commodious brick edifice, and under the management of its present proprietor, Mr. F. H. Huntoon, and his gentlemanly and courteous assistants, it justly merits the appellation it bears. The office, dining-room, &c., are all upon the second floor, and the peculiar situation, with its large and convenient rooms, make it a desirable place for families, and those seeking quiet and comfortable apartments, either for a temporary sojourn, or a permanent boarding-house.
There are numerous other houses for public entertainment, but time and space will not permit of a more extended review. They are all regarded as excellent hotels, and the weary traveller may find in them a comfortable night's lodging, and an ample table.
Providence is noted for its extensive manufacturing interests, a more complete and detailed history of which will be found in another part of this history. From what has been already written, it will be seen that many remarkable changes have taken place in the growth and prosperity of the city within the last half century. Old landmarks are fast disappearing, under the increasing growth of the city, and consequent demands for new improvement, and business facilities. In their stead arise new monuments of prosperity and wealth, and the public spirit and refined taste of its citizens, have in a great measure revolutionized old customs in trade, and social life. In this great metropolis is distinguished by that degree of intelligence and culture that marks the prevalence of the influence of modern ideas. The early actors in public affairs have long since passed away, and their places have been honorably filled by their illustrious posterity. These, too, will pass but a brief hour upon the stage of action, and then resign their places to a new generation. As our ancestors nobly did their work, so may we receive it from them, and may it be our pride and aim to transmit it improved to our successors.
The Legal Profession.
Physicians and Druggists.
Of the early history of druggists, a class indispensable to physicians, and holding vital relations to the hygiene of the town, we know but little. We know that Joseph Balch established a drug-store on South Main Street in 1817, and, in 1824, we find there were eleven who put up prescriptions of powder, bolus or tincture, with scrupulous care; viz., Joseph Balch, Jr., John H. Mason, E. S. H. Leonard, Henry Waterman, Horatio G. Bowen, George Hoppin, Amos J. Rhodes, Duty Greene, Whitney & Tillinghast, and two others. The names and locations of the leading physicians and druggists of to-day, like that of the legal profession, will be found in the Patrons' Record of this work.
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