Preserve America Community:
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
East Greenwich (population 12,948) is located in the center of the State on Narragansett Bay. Established in the 1600s, it is the eighth-oldest town in the State and was home to many early American patriots.
Originally inhabited by the Pequot Indians, the land was acquired by King Charles II in 1644 and incorporated as a town in 1677. The downtown area of East Greenwich was initially settled to support the surrounding farming area and functioned as a small port.
The protected cove brought trade ships from the far corners of the world and gave safe harbor to local fishermen. East Greenwich grew as a center for shipbuilding and manufacturing textiles, brushes, and machinery.
Today, East Greenwich is a suburban community proud of its heritage and its National Register resources, including the town center, two rural districts, and a mill site. Its long history has left behind fine historic buildings for citizens and visitors to enjoy, including homes in many architectural styles, the oldest of which was built in 1711.
Other highlights include the 1875 St. Luke's Church with original Tiffany stained glass windows and an 1804 courthouse restored and rededicated as the East Greenwich Town Hall in 1995.
East Greenwich is also home to the New England Wireless and Steam Museum and the Varnum Military Museum, and the chamber of commerce has produced a walking tour of the Hill and Harbour District for children.
The town offers some financial incentives for preservation efforts, including a home repair program, which funds physical improvements to residential housing units for income-qualified applicants.
In 2001, the town approved a bond issue and partnered with a nonprofit land trust to purchase the Briggs Farm, a remarkable assemblage of house, farm outbuildings, fields, and woods that will enable public understanding and enjoyment of East Greenwich's agricultural heritage. An interpretive trail has been developed, and in 2003 volunteers produced 42,000 pounds of food on the farm for local food banks.
For more information
Town of East Greenwich: www.eastgreenwichri.com
Historic District Commission: www.eastgreenwichri.com/hdc.htm
Chamber of Commerce Walking Tours: www.eastgreenwichchamber.com/gd_wlk.htm
Briggs Farm: www.rifarm.org/east_greenwich.htm
Posted May 13, 2009