Samuel Gorton’s beliefs were so odious to the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony - such ideas as the separation of church and state, the banning of slavery and the payment of Indians for their land - that even after he was banished from the colony he was tracked down in Rhode Island and brought back for trial. After narrowly escaping death for blasphemy he had his punishment reduced to banishment from Portsmouth (Rhode Island). He had now been tossed from Boston, Plymouth, Aquidneck and Newport. Now ensconced in the wilderness of Rhode Island, he was still hounded by Massachusetts authorities who claimed that land he had purchased known as “The Shawomet Purchase” was subject to Boston rule.
Once again the government charged him with blasphemy and once again soldiers from Massachusetts arrived and burned his home. Gorton was again imprisoned for a time and released on the condition that he leave the land that he and a band of about 100 followers known as Gortonists had purchased. So Gorton left. And sailed to England where he met an old friend, Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick. With the help of the Earl of Warwick Gorton was granted a Royal Charter and received an order of “safe passage and conduct.” When he returned to Boston this time the militia now had to escort him safely back to Rhode Island and the government was ordered to never interfere with Samuel Gorton or the Gortonist’s again.
In gratitude, Gorton named his settlement “Warwick.”
Warwick developed as a loose federation of scattered villages. Most were agrarian communities tied to the sea but gradually the western section became more industrialized. Between 1920 and 1930 Warwick was the fastest growing town growing town in New England as the population jumped from 13,481 to 23,196. In 1931, after two unsuccessful attempt, Warwick became Rhode Island’s youngest city. In the next thirty years the population would nearly triple. The demand for housing and jobs levied a heavy toll on the historic Warwick building stock.
Our walking tour will explore the Apponaug Village, along the Post Road, now a busy roadway that was once an Indian path known as the Pequot Trail. The historic heart of the village, Apponaug Four Corners, once boasted two busy taverns from the 1800s and the house of Samuel Greene, the town’s most influential citizen. All are gone. To see what remains we’ll start a few steps to the east of venerable Four Corners...
Warwick City Hall
3275 Post Road
William R. Walker & Son, the go-to architectural firm for civic buildings in Rhode Island in the late 1800s, tapped several different styles for this distinctive town hall in 1893. Its dominant feature is the six-story Colonial Revival square clock tower with a domed belfry. Classical influences can be seen in the Ionic columns. The terra cotta date badge is indicative of the use of varying materials during the Victorian age. It cost $75,000 to replace the 1834-35 Town House that stood here previously.
FACING CITY HALL, TURN RIGHT O WALK EAST ON THE POST ROAD
Henry Warner Budlong Memorial Library
3267 Post Road
This small, stately yellow-brick building once sported Tuscan columns but they were removed in the 1970s. Henry Warner Budlong, whose family could trace its roots back to the town’s beginnings, donated $25,000 for the construction of this Beaux Arts library in 1925. The the Apponaug Free Library had been established in 1885 with space inside Town Hall and was ready to move.
Warwick Museum of Art (Kentish Artillery Armory)
3259 Post Road
This red-brick armory with a battlemented parapet was built in 1912 to replace a wooden Greek Revival structure built in 1854 that had burned a year earlier. It is another building designed by the Providence firm of William R. Walker and Son. The two dates on the building reflect the construction date and the 1797 founding of the Kentish Artillery at the recommendation of George Washington. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but that doesn’t include the cannons that flack the entrance doorway in special niches. They are wooden replicas. In 1804 the Kentish Artillery was gifted with Revolutionary War armaments, including two cannons. these originals disappeared in 1972 and The Case of The Missing Cannons has never been solved. The Kentish Artillery continued until the late 1970’s, when its last member died. The property was deeded to the City and the Warwick Museum of Art, that began as a Bicentennial project in 1976, moved in.
Warwick Central Baptist Church
3270 Post Street
The Warwick Central Free Will Baptist Church was organized in 1835 by the Reverend Benjamin Phelon to occupy the present sanctuary, built a year earlier. Baptist congregations had worshiped in Warwick as early as 1744 but all had dissolved through the years. The simple New England meetinghouse burned in 1905 and was reconstructed in its original spirit.
St. Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church
3252 Post Road
Irish Catholics began to trickle into Warwick in the middle of the 1800s, first to work on the railroad and then to populate the mills, that circuit preachers from East Greenwich began stopping twice a month. In 1873 a modest meetinghouse was constructed for the East Greenwich priests. Th efortunes of the Catholic community in Warwick variously ebbed and waned until their own church could be completed, on this small rise, in 1916. Architect William McLaughlin used early Italian churches as his model for this brick sanctuary with an arched entrance through a tightly bunched quartet of Corinthian columns, two engaged and two supporting.
St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church
3257 Post Road
Warwick Episcopalians began meeting in the 1860s and by 1880 were able to think about building a church on land at this site. Noted Providence architect Howard Hoppin was hired and he delivered a memorable Queen Anne style, shingled building with a graceful porch and a round spiral tower. A devastating fire in March 1911 left only the front porch of the St. Barnabas Church. It took another decade to begin work on the beautiful fieldstone, rural English-type Gothic church that is seen today. The church features a two-tory central tower with corner buttresses and a battlemented parapet.
U.S. Post Office
3205 Post Road
One of the goals of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression of the 1930s was to bring significant architecture to towns across the country. This brick-faced Neoclassical post office is a typical example of such additions to the streetscapes of America.
TURN AND RETRACE YOUR STEPS ON POST ROAD AND TURN LEFT ON COLONIAL AVENUE. TURN RIGHT ON WATER STREET.
In Colonial times this area along Water Street was a thriving seaport and shipbuilding area. Most of the land around the cove was owned by Jacob Greene, older brother of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael, and the five Greene brothers controlled a number of thriving industries here. By 1850 most goods had stopped crossing the wharves here and the shoreline became as quiet as you’ll find it today.
TURN LEFT ON THE POST ROAD.
Henry Remington House
3376 Post Road
Despite renovations and additions since it was built by Henry Remington in 1801, this Federal-style house would still be recognizable to travelers along the Post Road between Boston and New York. Remington was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and later a justice on the Rhode Island Supreme Court. In fact, this stretch of road came to be known as “Judge’s Row” and considered the finest part of the village.
3384 Post Road
Like its neighbor, the Remington House, this is a fine example of a Federal-era five-bay, center chimney house with fine, pedimented, fanlight doorways that has survived renovations over two centuries. Thomas Warner, a town clerk, is believed to have constructed the house sometime in the late 1700s. Thomas was not the first member of his family to serve as town clerk. Five generations earlier John Warner was Warwick’s very first town clerk. He was also the first Warwick public official to be drummed out of office. Seems in 1652, Warner had threatened to kill all the mares in the town, asked Massachusetts to assume control, and said he would “beat out the brains” of a town officer. Thomas Warner bequeathed the house to a daughter, Catherine, who married sea captain William Harrison. It remained in the family until 1920 and, after many years of abandonment and deterioration, now does duty as an office building.
CAREFULLY CROSS BUSY POST ROAD TO THE WEST SIDE AND TURN RIGHT.
3351 Post Road
From the 1940s until 1986, this gable-roofed structure at the bridge was known as the Central Cafe. A recent restoration has revealed old chestnut beams of the mortise and tenon type construction and an unbroken foundation under the original section that points to this structure being over 250 years old and one of the oldest buildings in Apponaug. The best guess is that the building was constructed as a tidal mill, perhaps used for manufacturing snuff.
WALK DOWN TO THE INTERSECTION AND TAKE A FEW STEPS TO YOUR LEFT.
Greene Memorial House
15 Centerville Road
The Greenes inhabited Warwick with founder Samuel Gorton in the late 1600s. Caleb, born in 1772, was a shipping merchant who later came into possession of a small mill in Apponaug and built this center chimney, Federal-style house in the late 1790s. It stands as the last vestige of the prosperous seafaring days at Appanoug Four Corners, the main crossroads of the village. Although Caleb saw no military action of his own, he is related to two of America’s most celebrated generals. His cousin was Nathanael Greene, second in command to George Washington during the Revolutionary War and his son, Major General George Sears Greene, is the man credited with holding the critical right flank of the Union Army on Culp’s Hill at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. George, the second of ten children, was born in a small room on the southwest corner of the second floor of this house on May 6, 1801.
WALK BACK TO THE INTERSECTION AND RE-CROSS POST ROAD. WALK EAST ON POST ROAD.
Old Town House
3292 Post Road
You wouldn’t know by looking at it but this structrue was part of the original town hall built in 1835. It was moved across the street by David Curtis when Warwick City Hall was built in 1893.
CONTINUE DOWN THE POST ROAD A FEW MORE STEPS TO THAT “NEW” CITY HALL AND THE TOUR STARTING POINT.