BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Early Rhode Island houses

by Norman Morrison Isham

Excerpt:

HERE are three sources of evidence as to these oldest houses. We have certain traditions handed down, sometimes in families, sometimes from one owner of the property to another. We have also a meagre amount of documentary evidence, partly contemporary, partly later in date, but of such a character that inferences can be drawn from it with good critical results; and finally, the surest source of all, we have the houses themselves, both those of this period and those of the next — for here, just as in the case of the documents, the examination and comparison of the later houses are necessary in the study of the scanty remains of the earlier work.

Tradition claims that there were several houses which survived the Indian attack, whatever it was, of March, 1676. Tradition, of course, must be critically examined, and, even if it cannot be disproved, must be given only as tradition to which the reader must be allowed to give his own weight. It is curious to observe, however, that one of the two points mainly urged against the statement that any house now exists in Providence built before King Philip's War, is also a tradition — one most tenaciously clung to by the older writers, that Providence was pretty well destroyed by the Indians— a tradition which, with some of the poetic adorning it has received, contained no doubt some exaggeration. The second point brought against the early dates is the result of an investigation made about sixty years ago. At this time, when, in spite of the fact that men were then living whose grandfathers had seen the second generation of the settlers, almost nothing was known scientifically of colonial architecture, a number of antiquaries thoroughly examined, it is said, every house on the "Towne Street," and they reported that nothing remained of the ancient settlement.' Their opinion, the best possible at that time, can, however, hardly be considered as final. It must, like those expressed to-day, be constantly subject to revision, and we think that in the light of later evidence, overlooked by the older antiquaries, it must be revised.

The documentary evidence necessary to critically test tradition is, in the earliest period, very meagre. The wills and the inventories attached to them begin at a time when alterations and additions had to a certain extent been made. . They are still very valuable, but they cannot take the place of those which have been lost — no doubt irrevocably — in the missing First Book of Wills. Notices in letters are few. The records of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies are valuable as showing what our neighbors possessed, but allowance must be made to adjust these accounts to our own work. Our own records say nothing about buildings. The deeds are vague, the boundaries so indicated that it is now impossible in many cases to identify positively a tract of land.'

1 H. C. Dorr, The Planting and Growth of Providence. * Many deeds were not even recorded.

I. The Roger Mowry House.

When we turn to the existing house and remnant of a house which claim the long descent from the middle of the seventeenth century, we find that the houses of that date were, as far as these examples show, all single-roomed, story-and-a-half structures with a huge stone chimney at one end. We have only two examples to appeal to, and of these only one is now standing. In the case of this one, however — the so-called Whipple or Abbott house on Abbott street near the North Burying Ground in Providence — tradition, the documents, and the testimony of the house itself seem to unite in the statement that it was built as early as 1653, perhaps earlier. It belonged undoubtedly to Roger Mowry, and as his tavern played a very prominent part in the affairs of the early colony.' We shall therefore refer to it hereafter as the "Roger Mowry house."

This house as the visitor approaches it along Abbott street, up the hill from North Main, gives no impression of its age. From above it, looking back, we see the old stone chimney ( Plate 3), which though topped out with brick is almost exactly in its ancient condition, and which shows, on its sides, the shoulders or slopes which mark the position of the rafters of the original roof. It is inside the building, however, that its age can best be appreciated. The plan (Plate 4) indicates the difference between the old and the new portions of the house, which like all these old homesteads has been greatly altered. It originally consisted of the single "Fire • Room" shown in black on the plan, which gives the additions in cross-hatching; and in that room the original framing is almost


... from the RetroRead library, using Google Book Search, and download any of the books already converted to Kindle format.

Browse the 100 most recent additions to the RetroRead library

Browse the library alphabetically by title

Make books:

Login or register to convert Google epubs to Kindle ebooks

username:

password:

Lost your password?

Not a member yet? Register here, and convert any Google epub you wish


Powerd by Calibre powered by calibre