Great Road Open House Day

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.


On Saturday, September 23rd, the annual Great Road Day offers visitors the opportunity to discover some of Lincoln’s earliest history along one of the country’s oldest highways through some of the state’s finest historic treasures. Twelve sites spanning 300 years are available to visitors with free admission between 11 am- 4 pm.

This popular Open House features the stories of life in the early days of this community, including farm, industry, home, and school, all through the authentic sites open during Great Road Day, which include: Hearthside House (c.1810), Historic New England’s Arnold House (c.1693), Hannaway Blacksmith Shop (c.1880), Pullen’s Corner Schoolhouse (c.1850), Moffett Mill (c.1812), Chase Farm Park (c.1867), Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse (c.1703), Mt. Moriah Masonic Lodge (c.1804), Northgate, home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society (c.1807), and the Arnold Bakery (c.1874). In addition, two private homes will participate in this event: the Butterfly Mill (c.1812) and the Valentine Whitman House (c. 1696). These homes will not be open to the public, but their stories will be told onsite and where the architecture will be featured.

Two 17th century houses, known as stone-ender houses because of a massive chimney end wall, still stand along Great Road. Historic New England’s Arnold House at 487 Great Road, was home to the original town’s settlers, the Arnolds. The Valentine Whitman House at 1147 Great Road was the site of the first town meeting for Smithfield, before Lincoln was formed. At one time, it served as a home for workers in the booming lime industry in the village of Lime Rock. It has
recently been restored and is now a private home. Visitors will be welcomed outdoors to learn more about the architecture and early history of the house.

An 18th century site, the Saylesville Friends Meetinghouse, is one of the oldest continuously-used Quaker meetinghouses in New England. It has been meticulously preserved and appears much as it did when families gathered here on Sundays some 300 years ago. Headstones of those early settlers are located on the grounds. It is located at 374 Great Road. The Great Road Heritage Campus at Chase Farm Park includes several historic buildings, and docents in period attire help to bring history to life. A recently-installed artist pen and ink mural gives a birds-eye view of Great Road in the 19th century and helps to pull the story together. The Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, at the entrance to the Park, will fascinate visitors as
they watch the magic of metal be hand forged into useful implements. At the Pullen’s Corner Schoolhouse on the grounds of the Park, visitors will be greeted by Revolutionary War reenactors set up in an encampment there. Step inside Lincoln’s last one-room school and learn how this charming school got the name “Hot Potato School”. Sit at antique desks and imagine what it was like for children who learned their lessons here 150 years ago.

Pick up the shuttle van at the parking lot at Chase Farm to take a tour of the Moffett Mill, a rare survivor of the early Industrial era. It closed around 1900, and is “frozen in time,” with all its original tools and the belt system used to operate the equipment still in place. It produced machine parts, carriages, and shoelaces during the Civil War. Because of its location along the busy curve of the roadway below Chase Farm, the only access to the Mill will be by the shuttle van. Restrooms are located at the Visitors Center at Chase Farm Park, 671 Great Road.

The 85 acres of the picturesque historic former Chase Farm, Lincoln’s last operating dairy farm, beyond the historic buildings offers the public a chance to enjoy the beauty and tranquility in this unspoiled landscape. The rolling meadows and open fields are ideal to enjoy the unspoiled rural landscape. For the more adventuresome who like to hike and have the extra time, there is a mile-long trail from Chase Farm Park to the Arnold House.

The striking stone mansion near the base of Breakneck Hill Road with its curved roofline and full height front columns, Hearthside, welcomes visitors to the first floor of the fully-furnished and restored home. It is now an award-winning museum. Volunteers outfitted from a range of eras add to the experience of traveling back in time. Hearthside was home to 11 different owners over a 200-year history, until the town of Lincoln purchased it in 1996. Watch one of the docents demonstrate how laundry was done outdoors during the 19th century before washing machines
were invented. Another demonstration features special guest Steve Emma as he demonstrates the skill of chair caning, a traditional craft that is most often used to repair antique chairs with caned seats. Hearthside is located at 677 Great Road.

Built by Stephen Hopkins Smith at the time he was having Hearthside constructed, the Butterfly Mill is best known for the butterfly shape in the stonework of the chimney of this home. The mill had a long history of a variety of uses until it became a private home in the 1950s. A visit inside the old Mill section of the site gives visitors a chance to learn about its early history and the preservation efforts being undertaken by residents of these unique homes on Great Road.

Further up Great Road into Lime Rock is one of the earliest Masonic lodges in the state, the Mt. Moriah Lodge, where the most notable early town residents were members, provides public viewing just one day a year, 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. The Lodge continues to meet here regularly. It is located at 1093 Great Road.

Northgate, home of the Blackstone Valley Historical Society, was originally built as a tollgate for the busy Louisquisset Turnpike, a faster and straighter northern route than Great Road. Over the years, the building also served as the Grange for local farm families to gather and socialize. The Historical Society is having an exhibit about the history of the toll house. Adjacent to Northgate is the Arnold Bakery. This one-story, one room bakery was relocated to its current spot, and now has many artifacts from the original bakery to tell its story. This Lincoln business existed nearly 100 years and began in this tiny workshop owned by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jenks Arnold in Lonsdale, but the success of the business resulted in a larger bakery being built in the village of Saylesville. Both Northgate and the Arnold Bakery are located at 1873 Louisquisset Pike.

Start in Lime Rock and work your way to Saylesville, or start in Saylesville and end in Lime Rock. There is no order to this self-guided tour. Visitors are invited to customize their own itinerary and their own pace, visiting all 12 sites, or just a select few. The sites open at 11 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Parking is limited at some sites. Arnold House and the Friends Meetinghouse parking is available at Gateway Park. Hearthside parking is across from it, or at Chase Farm Park. There
is no parking at the Moffett Mill and is only accessible by the shuttle van picked up at the parking lot at Chase Farm or Hearthside. A map to the various sites that are open will be provided at each site.

Great Road was built in 1683 as the major thoroughfare on the west side of the Blackstone River. It got its name because it was so much more substantial than other routes through the valley. With historic houses, farms and mills, the nationally-designated Great Road Historic District in Lincoln retains much of the Blackstone Valley’s early 19th century rural character.

Great Road Day is a collaboration among the several participating historic sites, the majority of which are volunteer-run organizations.

For more information, go to or call 726-0597.

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