July News

Kelly House Replica Barn

4:00 pm, Wednesday, July 18: Ribbon-Cutting Celebration at the Kelly House Barn, Captain Wilbur Kelly House and Transportation Museum, Blackstone River State Park, 1075 Lower River Road, Lincoln, RI  02865

All are welcome to celebrate the completion of the replica of the milking parlor barn at the Capt. Wilbur Kelly House.  The barn stands on its original site, thanks to a grant in 2016 from the Champlin Foundation to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.  It will give the park rangers additional interpretive space, and give school groups a place to gather when visiting the Kelly House Museum. Al Klyberg helped develop this project, and looked forward to seeing the farm/factory aspect of early industry incorporated into the tour. John Houghton from BVHS has also been involved in this project.

For more information, see this 2016 Valley Breeze article: http://www.valleybreeze.com/2016-11-30/cumberland-lincoln-area/new-kelly-house-barn-will-shield-tour-groups-inclement-weather#.W0FAt9JKiM8


Craign Chartier near grave shaft

July 7: Archaeologists investigate at the Sprague Cemetery from Ken Postle.  Archaeologists Craig Chartier and Greg Lott from Plymouth Archaeology excavated at the lot next to the Sprague Cemetery on Saturday.  Shelby, who was a member of the Cumberland High School Archaeology Club and who is now a second year archaeology student at RIC was also present.  They made several significant finds including a grave shaft showing “a perfect outline of the original casket” which yielded nails, wood and even a metal handle with a copper pin in it.  Photograph courtesy of Ken Postle.  See the full post at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Quakerrecovery/permalink/2190748131170601/


July 2-30: BVHS Exhibit at the Hayden Gallery: An Elaborate History: The Cumberland Ballous.  2nd floor of the Cumberland Public Library, 1464 Diamond Hill Rd, Cumberland, RI 02864



BVHS Annual Tour of Cogswell Tower

Cogswell Tower

6:30 pm, Wednesday June 20, 2018

Meet at the entrance to Jenks Park on 580 Broad St, Central Falls, 02863

Don’t miss BVHS’s annual Tour of Cogswell Tower led by Bob Ferri, Central Falls City Councilman. Meet at the entrance to Jenks Park on 580 Broad St, Central Falls, 02863.  Climb to the top of the tower, and go underneath the Tower to see the Grotto. Free!


Kevin Klyberg explains how the War of 1812 kickstarted the Industrial Revolution

1:30 pm, May 20, 2018  Annual Meeting of BVHS
2:00 pm, May 20, 2018 Kevin Klyberg, The War of 1812 and the Development of the Blackstone Valley

Moffet Mill
Moffet Mill

The War of 1812 played a major role in the industrialization of the Blackstone Valley. While obviously no battles were fought here, the War of 1812 and the embargoes leading up to the war played a key role in launching the first textile industry boom in the Blackstone Valley, and therefore the United States, according to Kevin Klyberg, a national park ranger, who will be giving the annual Christine Nowak Memorial Lecture on May 20 at 2:00 pm.

Klyberg continues, “The ban on importation of textiles from Europe, beginning in 1807, inspired the creation of dozens of new textile mills across the Blackstone Valley.   In many ways, the cotton mill boom of this era is what really made the Industrial Revolution revolutionary, as it expanded the textile industry beyond a handful of sites. By 1815 the Blackstone Valley had transformed into an industrial landscape, and the United States was on its way to becoming a manufacturing powerhouse. “

Ranger Kevin Klyberg has been working with the National Park Service for 21 years, first for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and now for the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park (www.nps.gov/blac/index.htm) .

During that time he has shared the sites and stories of the Blackstone Valley with thousands of visitors.

The Christine Nowak Lectures were begun in 2013 in memory of Nowak, a respected local journalist and past president of the Society.

Free event. All welcome.  Refreshments.  Meeting downstairs, Lecture upstairs.



“The Ghost Army”

“The Ghost Army of WWII” courtesy of Rick Beyer

2:00 pm April 22, 2018
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI  02865

BVHS is happy to welcome Rick Beyer, author and documentary filmmaker,  to tell us about his research on the Ghost Army, the WWII deception unit.  This event is free, all are welcome.

The Ghost Army

Dummy Tank in Factory. Courtesy of Rick Beyer

In the summer of 1944, a handpicked group of young GIs landed in France to conduct a secret mission. Armed with rubber tanks, sound effects records, and their imagination, their job was to create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe. From Normandy to the Rhine, they conjured up phony convoys, phantom divisions, and make-believe headquarters to fool the enemy. What they did was kept secret for more than fifty years after the war. Their official name was the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, but they are better known today as The Ghost Army.

Writer and filmmaker Rick Beyer will detail the manner in which this unusual unit came into being, how they carried out their amazing deceptions. He’ll also explore the Blackstone Valley’s unique connection to the Ghost Army , and efforts underway to award the men this unit long delayed recognition for their accomplishments.

Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer is a New York Times best-selling author and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He produced the PBS documentary The Ghost Army and co-authored the bestselling book The Ghost Army of World War II, (with Elizabeth Sayles) that is being developed as a Hollywood movie. He is the president of The Ghost Army Legacy Project, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and honoring the legacy of the deception troops.

Beyer has made documentary films for The History Channel, A&E, National Geographic, and others. He is the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books, as well as Rivals Unto Death a dual biography of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, published earlier this year. He has written for numerous publications, and shared his unique take on history in interviews on CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, VOA and CNN. A Rhode Island native, he lives in Salem, MA.







Little-known Tales of New England Aviation

2:00-4:00 pm
Sunday, March 18, 2018
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865


Come enjoy a talk by  Jim Ignasher, Smithfield historian.   “How did the creation of Smithfield’s first airport in 1932 ultimately change the course of WWII in the Pacific?  And have you ever heard about the bizarre air battle that took place over Boston?   Or what became of a fighter pilot who mysteriously vanished from formation while on a routine training flight over Connecticut?”   On March 18, local writer and historian Jim Ignasher will tell these and other little-known tales relating to New England Aviation.  Free event.  Refreshments afterwards. Donations gratefully accepted.




About the Lime Kilns of Lime Rock: An Exhibit

Wall Kiln west of Louisquisset Pike

2:00-4:00 pm, February 25, 2018
Exhibit at BVHS
Downstairs at North Gate
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI  02865

Note: There will also be special exhibits from the collections of Jim and Dan Bethel.

If you live in Lime Rock, you may be familiar with these mysterious stone structures. But maybe not. Most of them are hard to see, even though you may drive past them often.  This exhibit will walk through seven sites that are part of Lime Rock’s history.  Mining and processing lime was nearly a continuous industry in Lime Rock from 17th century until nearly the 21st century (the Conklin Lime Quarry).  These stone kilns, which bear a strong resemblance to ones in England, are relics of this early industry.

Our original idea was to do a walking tour, but most of the locations aren’t very accessible.

Kiln on Sherman Avenue

Lime deposits were discovered in Rhode Island very early in the colony’s history.  Although limestone was found what is now Johnston, North Providence, and Cumberland, the largest deposits were in Lime Rock, which was then part of the Providence territory and referred to as the “North Woods” or the “Outlands.” In 1730, it became Smithfield.   At some point between 1662 and 1669, Thomas Harris and Gregory Dexter each gained possession of land in the Lime Rock area containing limestone deposits and shortly afterwards began to work them. There is a letter dated August 19, 1669 from Roger Williams to the governor of Connecticut, John Winthrop Jr, introducing Gregory Dexter to his notice as a producer of lime.  Descendants of Thomas Harris and Gregory Dexter dominated the lime business until the early 20th century. The Harris Lime Rock Company was incorporated in 1823, and the Dexter Lime Rock Company was incorporated in 1854, and they later merged.  The Whipples, Jenckes, and Arnolds were also involved in the business of producing lime.

Many of the residents of Lime Rock worked part or full-time mining lime and burning it in the kilns, or in related work such as woodcutting, charcoal burning, and making barrels to hold the finished lime.  Elaborate leases of rights to dig lime and burn it were drawn up.  It was additional income for many farmers.  “Smithfield” lime was marketed up and down the east coast, and was considered very fine.  Expediting the shipment of lime to Providence was one of the principal reasons for the building of the Louisquisset Pike.  It was such a big business that a bank was needed, and the Smithfield Lime Rock Bank was founded in 1823.

Lime kiln west of Louisquisset Pike

Lime was very valuable in colonial times.  It was chiefly used for mortar and plaster for building.  The “stone ender” chimneys at the Eleazer Arnold House and the Valentine Whitman house were built using local lime. It was also used in tanning, bleaching, blacksmithing, sugar refining, and candle making.  Later it was used as a soil amendment, as it is used today.  In the late nineteenth century, Portland cement took the place of natural lime mortar in building.  Before the discovery of limestone, the early colonists made lime by burning seashells, which was inferior for building.

Concert at North Gate: Jazz and Standards

7:00 pm.  Saturday, January 27
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865


A concert of some of the most important and influential American songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century, including the most popular and enduring songs from the 1920s to the  1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical films. Light refreshments.

Tickets $20.00 Tickets are available at the door, but reservations by email are recommended: michaeldimuccimusic@gmail.com.




Movie Matinees at North Gate

Two special movie showings at North Gate!

January 14, 2018, 2:00 pm-4:30 pm, BVHS will be showing Part 1 of  “Senechonet to Manville: A Journey Through Time,” a historical commentary on the village of Manville, RI, by Betty and Carlo Mencucci, with many photographs and other material collected by Roger Gladu. The movie covers the growth of Manville from colonial times, and ends with the spectacular disasters of the 20th century: the 1924 house gas explosion on Cumberland Hill, the 1920s textile strikes, the 1927 flood, the 1938 hurricane, and the flood and fire in 1955. Free Event.

January 21, 2018. 2:00 pm-4:00 pm,  BVHS will be showing Part 2 of “Senechonet to Manville: A Journey Through Time,” a historical commentary on the village of Manville, RI, by Betty and Carlo Mencucci, with many photographs and other material collected by Roger Gladu. Highlights of this movie include the stories of many Manville businesses through time, Manville in wartime, and much more. Popcorn available. Free event.
Movies will be shown at the Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI  02865, bvhsri@gmail.com, 401-862-4202.
Please watch Facebook and the news media in case of cancellations due to weather.

Christmas Open House

North Gate

2:00 to 4:00 PM
Sunday, December 3, 2017

North Gate, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865

Children (detail:Lime Rock Grange Harvest Supper Series)

You are invited!  We wish to thank our members and friends for their support throughout the year.   Join us for an afternoon of music and refreshments, and maybe even a visit from a man in a red suit!  Bring your family and friends.  Bob Ferri, DJ, will be spinning holiday tunes for us!    Bring a canned good to be donated to a local food pantry.  Free event!

Some Other Historical Holiday Events

Open House and Santa’s Workshop at the Museum of Work and Culture, December 2, 1-5 pm.  The Rhode Island Historical Society invites the community to visit the Museum of Work & Culture on Saturday, December 2, 1-5pm for a free annual Holiday Open House, offered as part of Woonsocket’s Main Street Holiday Stroll. Meet the North Pole Postman, whose latest book features the Museum.  Visitors are invited to decorate cookies from Wright’s Dairy Farm & Bakery, and help Santa’s elves build and test toys in their workshop. Children who help the elves will be entered in a raffle to win a toy train set.  Visitors may also tour the MoWC, which will be decked in its holiday finest.


Hearthside will be hosting several “Old Fashioned Christmas” Events. See https://www.hearthsidehouse.org/old-fashioned-christmas.




Live at North Gate: Michael DiMucci in Concert

3:00 PM
November 5, 2017
Blackstone Valley Historical Society
1873 Old Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln, RI 02865


Michel DiMucci

Pianist and vocalist Michael DiMucci in Concert: Americana: Songs from America’s History, from the Revolution to World War I

Tickets $20 ($21.69 with service fee) Tickets are on sale at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3086746. You may also purchase tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com by calling 1-800-838-3006 (24/7).  We will also be selling tickets at the door.

Michael DiMucci studied piano with the late Chester Fruscione of Trenton, New Jersey and further at the Westminster Conservatory of Music in Princeton, NJ, where he also studied pipe organ. Mr. DiMucci has played at several RI venues for special events as well as his own concerts and recitals such as Linden Place, Blithewold Mansion, Mount Hope Farm, The Dunes Club and others. As a singer, Mr. DiMucci apprenticed at Boheme Opera in Trenton, NJ for two seasons with Maestro Joseph Pucciatti and currently studies voice with RI baritone and Artistic Director of Opera Providence, Rene de la Garza. He has performed throughout the New England area in large and small venues for concerts, private recitals, special events and weddings and was a regular guest artist at the University of Rhode Islands Opera Workshop. There Mr. DiMucci performed many lead tenor roles including Tamino in The Magic Flute; Nanki-Poo in the Mikado; Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore; Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Matt/Larry in Face On The Barroom Floor. Mr. DiMucci also performs in concerts and recitals for Opera Providence as a guest singer. Because of his diverse musical background, Michael is at home singing Broadway/Musical Theatre, Opera, classical literature, as well as jazz and the American Songbook.

German and American Helmets-WWI from the collection of Kevin Heskin

World War I Exhibit

Meet and Greet with Michael after the concert. There will be refreshments while you enjoy a World War I-themed exhibit from the collection of Kevin Heskin, on display for the concert.


Some photographs of the event, by Jim Hendrickson.

Michael DiMucci
The March of the 26th Yankee Division








Michael DiMucci playing the organ at North Gate


Part of Kevin Heskin’s collection


Some memorabilia belonging to Jason Dionne’s grandfather, a dispatch rider in WWI.