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.

Learn About Upcoming Back-to-Back Solar Eclipses

7:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 13, BVHS, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln

Within the next few months, the U.S. will have two solar eclipses within its boundaries: an annular solar eclipse in October and a total eclipse next April. Al-though their paths will not pass through the Blackstone Valley, the sun will be partially blocked here during both.

     The annular solar eclipse will take place on Saturday, October 14. The 2024 total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, April 8. The path of the total eclipse will arc north of Rhode Island in New England, and will be fully visible in parts of northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

     On September 13, BVHS Board Member and astronomer Francine Jackson of Lincoln will explain how and why eclipses occur and what to do during them. This set of eclipses is very important, as there will not be another occurring in the country for over two decades.

     Solar eclipses are one of nature’s most beautiful phenomena. Astronomers, both professional and amateur, often travel around the world to witness them. On occasion eclipses have played an important part in history. Come learn how they have caused changes in both the scientific and political worlds. In addition, Jackson will describe sites  in Rhode Island where you can be with others who enjoy safely watching the sun be partially blocked during the eclipse. She will also share sites where the eclipses will be live-streamed.

This image of the moon crossing in front of the sun was captured on Jan. 30, 2014, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observing an eclipse from its vantage point in space. Credits: NASA.

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday, September 23: Great Road Open House Day: Many of the historic properties on Great Road, including the Saylesville Friends Meeting House, the Eleazer Arnold House, and Hearthside House will be open at no charge. Northgate and the Bakery will be open. .

Slater Mill to Slatersville

May 21, 2023, Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisett Pike, Lincoln, RI.

1:30 pm: Annual Meeting of the BVHS.

2:00 pm: Christine Nowak Lecture by Kevin Klyberg, Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park

Slater Mill to Slatersville

Kevin Klyberg is the Director of Interpretation and Education for Roger Williams National Memorial and Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. He grew up in Lincoln along the banks of the Blackstone Canal, and has been interpreting the Blackstone Valley with the National Park Service since 1996.

 The lecture will be about the development of Slater Mill and the establishment of the mill village of Slatersville by the Slater family.  These events served as a launching point for mill villages throughout the Blackstone Valley.

All are welcome.

Jim Bailey Returns to BVHS on April 16

2:00 p.m, April 16, Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI, 02865

Rhode Islander Jim Bailey will be returning to the Blackstone Valley Historical Society (BVHS) for a double feature at 2:00 pm on Sunday, April 16, 2023. He will provide a brief update of his presentation to the BVHS last year concerning the ongoing recovery of 17th Arabian silver coins in New England and their connection to the infamous voyage of Captain Henry Every of the pirate ship Fancy. Additional coin discoveries and some of his latest research findings will be discussed.

The main feature of his presentation recounts his experiences in finding the site of a long-vanished country estate in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The estate belonged to Metcalf Bowler, one of the wealthiest men in Rhode Island on the eve of the Revolutionary War. While the site produced a number of exciting artifacts dating back to the 18th century, the history behind the artifacts proved to be far more significant. Over 240 years later, it’s hard to contemplate the magnitude of the decision that all Rhode Islanders had to face sooner or later: remain a loyal subject of England and join the fight for independence? We’ll look at one man’s decision. 


Jim Bailey is a lifelong Rhode Islander from Warwick. He is happily married and has one daughter, one son, two dogs, and too much to do. His discoveries into the unknown history of Henry Every’s infamous pirating career is under development for a book and a docuseries film project.  

Remembering Narragansett Park

We regret to say that this program has been CANCELLED.

2:00 pm, Sunday, March 19,

Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI.

Rhode Island once had two major thoroughbred racing facilities: Lincoln Downs and Narragansett Park. Bob Kynch worked at both of them, and still follows the races in Northern New England. Join him as he relives the days in Pawtucket’s Narragansett Park, with the crowds, the beautiful animals, and even the train that brought the people to the Park to enjoy the sport of kings.

Bob Kynch started working at the Rhode Island racing facilities as a young man, and still is a part of the racing set. Join him as he goes back to the heyday of horse racing in Rhode Island. This was one of the major forms of enjoyment for many people in decades past. Bob will show you the reason why, and give you an appreciation for the joys of this sport.

This presentation is free of charge. Donations are welcome.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The RIHS Drop-Scene Project

2:00 pm, February 19, 2023, Blackstone Valley Historical Society 1872 Old Louisquiset Pike, Lincoln, RI

Richard Ring, RIHS

Free Lecture. All welcome.

Richard Ring, the Deputy Executive Director for Collections & Interpretation at the Rhode Island Historical Society, is coming on February 19 to talk about the RIHS’s Drop Scene Project. The RIHS’s Theater Drop-Scene is the earliest known surviving American theater backdrop.

The backdrop features a panoramic view of Providence from the base of Federal Hill looking east, painted by John Worrall in about 1809-1810. John Worrall (ca. 1783–September 14, 1825), was a scenery painter who had worked in Boston. It was made for the first theater in Providence, which was located at the corner of Westminster and Mathewson, a spot currently occupied by Grace Church. In the 1790’s John Brown gave the lot for the theater, and subscribed for seven shares of the company. The theater opened in 1795. The Historical Society acquired the drop-scene in 1833, soon after the theater was demolished and the land sold to the Grace Church Corporation. It is the largest graphic image of Providence in their collection.

The Drop Scene Project 2018-2022

The RIHS has been engaged in a massive project to restore and make available this image of Providence, and it has taken four years, from 2018 to 2022. The drop scene was first cleaned and then conservation work was done by Curtains Without Borders. Then Artopia Giclée of Stoneham, MA took 76 digital photographs of the scene and stitched them together. The image was then digitally retouched using existing visual information, and printed onto large pieces of heavy art paper at 1/4 scale for the artist to work on. The artist physically painted areas of the image that were difficult to repair digitally. The photographer then shot the painted prints and put them together to make a restored digital image for display and interactive use. We can see again what Providence looked like in 1810.

Read more about the Drop-Scene Project, and come on Sunday, February 19 to learn all about it.

Photograph of the restoration work from 2018 courtesy of RIHS.

Andrew Noone to Give Talk on “Bathsheba Spooner: A Revolutionary Murder Conspiracy”

2:00 p.m. Sunday, January 22, BVHS, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI

What possessed a woman from the elite of eighteenth-century New England society to conspire with American and British soldiers to murder her husband at the midpoint of the American Revolution? The story of Bathsheba Spooner has alternately fascinated and baffled residents of Worcester County for centuries. Beyond central Massachusetts, the tale is largely unknown. It was, in fact, the most sensational “true crime” tragedy of the American 1700’s.

Bathsheba Ruggles Spooner (1746 – 1778)was the first woman in American history to be executed  following the Declaration of independence.

     Spooner was the daughter of a leading Tory lawyer Timothy Ruggles, who served several terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives before the Revolution, and after the Revolution settled in Nova Scotia.  Bathsheba had an arranged marriage to wealthy farmer Joshua Spooner in Worcester and remained in Massachusetts. After becoming pregnant by her lover, 17-year old Continental soldier Ezra Ross, she enlisted the assistance of Ross and two others to murder her husband. On the night of March 1, 1778, Spooner was beaten to death and his body hidden in a well. Bathsheba and the three conspirators were soon arrested, tried, and convicted of Spooner’s murder, and sentenced to death.  She was buried in an unmarked grave in Green Hill Park in Worcester.

Andrew Noone became interested in Spooner when he realized that his house was adjacent to Green Hill Park where Spooner was buried.  He became fascinated with the story, and began to research the murder and trial.

     Andrew Noone, the author of the book, is an independent scholar with graduate degrees in art history and musicology from Syracuse University. He was music specialist in the Worcester Public Schools and has taught courses in the humanities at several colleges in Massachusetts, including Clark University.

See “Kittacuck Speaks” at BVHS

2:00 pm, November 20, 2022
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike 
Lincoln, RI 02865

BVHS will show Kittacuck Speaks, a film about the Blackstone River.  John Marsland, president of the Blackstone Valley Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone, will introduce the movie.

The Blackstone River has been a lifeline to to the people living in the Blackstone Valley through the centuries, from before the Industrial Revolution. It is a beautiful part of our heritage. As time has gone by, there have been a lot of changes to the River, brought on mainly by humans, who used it as a dumping ground for hundreds of years. But now it is returning to its original beauty, and Kittacuck Speaks will show the river throughout the course of a year. It will take us on a tour of the majestic Blackstone River through the seasons, showing it as it has never been seen before: from above.

Kittacuck Speaks was produced by the Blackstone Valley Watershed Council/Friends of the Blackstone, together with the RI Rivers Council. Kittycunk translates to “the great tidal river.” 


And they’re off! Relive the Narragansett Park racing days!

2:00 p.m., October 16th, 2022
BVHS, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike (Route 246), Lincoln, RI 02865

This talk was postponed until March, 2023.

Rhode Island once had two major thoroughbred racing facilities: Lincoln Downs and Narragansett Park. Bob Kynch worked at both of them, and still follows the races in Northern New England. Join him as he relives the days in Pawtucket’s Narragansett Park, with the crowds, the beautiful animals, and even the train that brought the people to the Park to enjoy the sport of kings.

Bob Kynch started working at the Rhode Island racing facilities as a young man, and still is a part of the racing set. Join him as he goes back to the heyday of horse racing in Rhode Island. This was one of the major forms of enjoyment for many people in decades past. Bob will show you the reason why, and give you an appreciation for the joys of this sport.

Great Road Day

September 24, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
1873 Old Louisquisett Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865

Great Road Day Map

BVHS is participating in Lincoln’s Great Road Day, where historic properties are open to the public.  The Eleazer Arnold House, the Saylesville Friends Meeting House, Hearthside House, the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, the Moffett Mill, the Pullen Corner Schoolhouse, and the Mount Moriah Lodge will all be open at no charge.  Northgate and Arnold’s Lonsdale Bakery will be open 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on September 24.   We will have chocolate chip cookies in the bakery. Please stop by!

Northgate was built around 1807 as a residence for the toll collector for the Louisquisset Turnpike, which was constructed at the same time to expedite the shipment of lime to Providence. In later years, the building served as the Lime Rock Grange, a social gathering place for local families.

The bakery was originally a one-room, one story workshop, which was used by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jenks Arnold as a bakery in 1874, and was the start of their Lincoln business which lasted nearly 100 years. They were so successful that a large bakery was built in Saylesville, and eventually the little bakery was purchased by one of the Arnolds and moved to Saylesville next to their new building. In the 1990’s the original bakery was relocated and rebuilt in its current spot adjacent to Northgate.
The Jenks’ collection of antique baking equipment was placed on display at the bakery, and Gail Harris from BVHS has added to the bakery collection. Here is an article about the bakery from the Valley Breeze.

On Great Road Day, BVHS will also host an exhibit of Vincent Bernasconi’s paintings of the lime quarry and Lime Rock, courtesy of Joyce Bethel and the Conklin Lime Quarry. In addition, Dan Bethel will show material he has collected about Bernasconi.

Vincent Bernasconi (1885-1962) was a staff artist at the Providence Journal. He was born in Birmingham, England and graduated from art school. He began working at the Providence Evening Bulletin in 1917, drawing illustrations for the sporting page and sketching cartoons. He lived on Great Road in one of the houses just past the quarry, and in his free time he enjoyed painting his neighborhood. These illustrations of Lime Rock and the lime quarry may be on public view for the first time. On this page is a picture by Bernasconi of a lime kiln on Wilbur Road.