Great Road Day Sept 25

The Blackstone Valley Historical Society will be open 1-4 pm on Saturday, September 25 as part of Great Road Day.

Northgate Toll House (1807) 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI.  Open 1:00 pm-4:00 pm. The home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society. This two story building was originally built as a tollgate and residence for the toll collector for the Louisquisset Turnpike. The Pike, faster and straighter than Great Road, was the highway of its time and was built to expedite the shipment of lime to Providence. In later years, the building served as Lime Rock Grange #22, a gathering place for local farm families. It was sold to the BVHS in 1971 for the sum of one dollar.

Exhibit at Northgate:  The Papers of Arnold Jenckes. Jenckes (1797-1873) was a farmer and a cooper, who made lime casks for the Harris Lime Company. His farm was near the present-day Lincoln Mall.  The papers include bills, receipts, paid IOU’s, a running tab at a general store, his commission as captain of the militia, and lists of the members of his company. These bits and pieces, that may have come from his desk drawers, allow us to see a little bit of an everyday farmer’s life in the 19th century. 

Lincoln became a town only a few years before Arnold Jenckes died.  He was a son of Rufus Jenckes, who lived on Jenckes Hill Road, and a descendant of Joseph Jenckes, the founder of Pawtucket.  In 2017 Eleonore Costa donated this collection of his papers that she and Margaret Ott discovered at Lampercock Spring Farm on Wilbur Road in the 1960s.

We will be displaying the March 10, 1871 issue of the Central Falls Weekly Visitor, which was published from 1869-1891, showing the entry about the “Smithfield act” where the announcement that “the act dividing the Town of Smithfield into three towns under the names of Smithfield, LIncoln, and Slater, and annexing a portion of the town to Woonsocket was passed unanimously” by the state senate.

Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery (1874) 1873 Louisquisset PikeLincoln, RI Open 1:00 pm-4:00 pmThis one-story, one-room bakery was relocated and rebuilt in its current spot adjacent to Northgate. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jenks Arnold began a Lincoln business in 1874 that lasted nearly 100 years. The bakery contains a collection of antique baking equipment and memorabilia relating to Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery

Great Road Day 2021

When the Town of Lincoln separated from Smithfield in 1871, Great Road was already 200 years old, having been built in 1683.  What is remarkable is that some of the original buildings still remain where they were during those earliest years when Great Road was the one of the country’s first highways.  It ran between Providence and Mendon, Mass.  Today, there are a number of 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings as well along this historic roadway that have been preserved and are open to the public.  

On Saturday, September 25th, the annual Great Road Day welcomes visitors for free admission to 10 of these sites.  Those sites include: Arnold House (c.1693), Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse (c.1703), Mount Moriah Lodge (c.1804), Northgate-Blackstone Valley Historical Society (c.1807), Arnold Bakery (c.1874), the Valentine Whitman House (c.1694) as well as Hearthside (c.1810), Moffett Mill (c.1812), Hannaway Blacksmith Shop (c.1880), and the Pullen’s Corner Schoolhouse (c.1850).  The buildings represent an impressive sampling of what was located here in the community during the time when the town was formed.  The event runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

As part of the Town’s commemoration of its 150th anniversary, two shuttle buses are being provided to make visits to all the sites easier, with continuous runs between each site and parking areas.  Parking is available at lots at Gateway Park, Chase Farm Park, Hearthside, and at Mt. Moriah Lodge.  Roadside parking at Whitman House and Northgate. To further encourage visits to each site, a Passport will be given to each, which will get stamped at the individual sites, and if all 10 blocks are stamped to show that the visit was made, then a gift will be given.
At the Valentine Whitman Jr. House, stop in to learn how Preserve Rhode Island, who recently acquired this stone-ender house from the town, plans to restore the building and give it new life.  The house was the site of the first town meeting of the town of Smithfield.  

The Mt. Moriah Lodge is one of the earliest Masonic lodges in the state and where  the most notable early town residents were members.  The Lodge opens once a year to the public which is on Great Road Day.  The first structure on this site was a one-room schoolhouse, but in 1804 local masons established a new lodge here.  Today, meetings are still held by the lodge regularly. 

At the opposite end of Great Road’s Historic District is a rare journey back to the 17th and early 18th century that is featured at Historic New England’s Arnold House, a unique stone-ender house with a massive chimney end wall, as well as the Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse, one of the oldest continuously-used Quaker meetinghouses in New England.  Both properties feature the stories of the town’s earliest settlers, the Arnolds, and other notable family names of Lincoln’s early residents.

At the center of it all is the Great Road Heritage Campus at Chase Farm Park, where several of the historic buildings are located.  At the entrance to the Park is the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, where visitors can watch the blacksmith shape hot metal into useful implements.  Next door at the recently relocated one-room schoolhouse, Pullen’s Corner but also known as the “Hot Potato Schoolhouse”, visitors can learn what lessons area farm children of all ages were learning here together, what recess was like, and even what the original outhouse might have looked like.  

Board the shuttle bus to take a tour of the Moffett Mill, accessible only by the shuttle, to this rare relic that appears to be frozen in time, with original tools and belt system that operated the machinery in this wooden machine shop still in place.  This mill did custom work for area businesses and farms, from making parts, to wagons and buggies, to laces for shoes and corsets around the period of the Civil War.  

What were the fashions of the day?  Find out with a trip to Hearthside and see examples of dresses, underclothes, and a man’s uniform from the Civil War.  Docents in period attire welcome you to explore through three floors of this stone mansion.  Besides the indoor exhibits, a small Civil War encampment will be set up on the grounds, and fall treats will be for sale of home-made apple crisp, popcorn, and apple cider.  A selection of books about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln are available for purchase in Hearthside’s Gift Shop too.

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