Great Road Historic District

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Called "Great" because it was so much more substantial than other routes through the valley, Great Road was built in 1683 as the major thoroughfare on the west side of the Blackstone River. With historic houses, farms and mills, the Great Road Historic District in Lincoln, Rhode Island, retains much of the Blackstone River Valley's early nineteenth century rural character .

Friends Meeting House

Friends Meeting House
c. 1704/1745

Originally built as a one room meeting house around 1704, the building was expanded to its current size in the 1740's. As the Quaker community in the Blackstone River Valley grew, this became one of a chain of meeting houses that were established along Great Road. The cemetery adjacent to the meeting house contains the graves of many for the meeting house's former members

Eleazer Arnold House

Eleazer Arnold House
c. 1687

The oldest house in Lincoln, this building is also the finest example of a "stone-ender" in the state. Its most distinctive feature is the great stone chimney which makes up one whole end of the house.

Moffett Mill

Moffett Mill
c. 1812

This small wooden mill, believed to have been built by George Olney, was one of the first machine shops in Rhode Island. Powered by a waterwheel on the Moshassuck River, it is a typical of the wooden mills built during the first wave of the industrialization of the Blackstone River Valley from 1790 to 1820.

Hannaway Blacksmith Shop

Hannaway Blacksmith Shop
c. 1870-1895

Originally located across from the Hearthside, this building was constructed as a carriage shop between 1870 and 1895. In 1901, William Hannaway purchased the building and ran a blacksmith shop in it until the late 1920's. Now located adjacent to the Chase Farm, demonstrations of old blacksmith techniques are still held in the building.

Hearthside

Hearthside
c. 1810-1811

One of the finest Federal Style houses in Rhode Island, Hearthside was built by farmer and industrialist Stephen Smith. Constructed of fieldstone with granite trim, the house has an unusual ogee gable on the side elevations.

Butterfly Mill

Butterfly Mill
c. 1811-1813

Also built by Stephen Smith, the Butterfly Mill is one of Rhode Island's earliest stone textile mills. It was named after a pair of unusual stones in the wall that resembled a butterfly. Originally a two story building with a central bellfry, it was converted to a single family residence in the 1950's. The butterfly stones can now be seen in the chimney.

Mowry Tavern

Mowry Tavern
c. 1800/1820

The location of the Mowry Tavern along Great Road made it a popular rest stop for travelers, especially after it became a horse changing stop for the stage coaches which ran between Providence, Woonsocket and Worcester. The Mowry Tavern continued in use until the Providence Worcester Railroad eliminated the need for coach service in the 1840's. The building was then used as a farm house and is now a private residence.

Valentine Whitman House

Valentine Whitman House
c. 1694

The Valentine Whitman house is another fine example of a "stone-ender. The Whitman family probably built this house around 1694 after the original family homestead was destroyed in the King Philip's War.

Great Road remained the major transportation route through the Blackstone River Valley until the early 1800's when the Louisquisset Pike and the Blackstone Canal absorbed much of the traffic. Although several small mills operated along Great Road, the limited power of the Moshassuck River prevented the the development of larger mills like those that thrived along the Blackstone River. Great Road remained an agricultural area until well into the current century.

This page utilizes information from:

  • Great Road - Lincoln, Rhode Island - Travel through three hundred years in three miles. - a driving tour guide provided by the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
  • Working Water - A Guide to the Historic Landscape of the Blackstone River Valley, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island Parks Association, 1997
Tour guides for Great Road and many other sites are available from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.


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