I’ve been slacking a bit in the home tour department lately, trying to squeeze in some summer relaxation on weekends with friends & family before we start thinking too much about the “F
all” or “W inter” or “S now” become a reality. But, I’m excited to share my visit of the Arnold House with you!
This little gem of a home sits on Great Road in Lincoln, RI – which I knew nothing about, and had I more time that day there were a bunch of historic homes and farms in the area – much prettier than I anticipated! It’s well documented on this blog (and in real life) that RI is not my favorite state….but, through this journey I’ve been pleasantly surprised every time I visit!
- This is an olllld home – built in 1693 (almost as old as The Fairbanks House!) by Eleazer Arnold (try to say that one out loud, harder than it seems!). Eleazer inherited the land from his father in 1685, but fancy dendrochronology of the rafters in the home date it to 1693. He built it close to the Great Road, which at that time was the only road that connected that area to the City of Providence. Eleazer, his wife and their 10 children lived in the home at that time.
- This home is considered a “stone-ender”, which were common in pre-1700s home construction and rarely found outside of Rhode Island. It is thought that inspiration for the design of these “stone-ender” homes comes from England, specifically Wales & Sussex as settlers at that time were most comfortable building that style of home. Everything from the pretty chimney, to the stonework and even the layout of the fireplaces lends itself to a modified version of an English Tudor cottage.
- Eleazer was well known in the community, serving on the town council and also as a Justice of the Peace from 1705 – 1709. Records show that in 1710 he applied for and was granted a license for a public house, which he operated in Great Room on the first floor of their home. There location was perfect for this, right on the main road heading into Providence, and they saw many guests. They even had a small room off the Great Room where they would rent cots to overnight guests who were traveling through. Legend has it that there was a Native American man who slept many nights in that small room.
- While there are not many details, the house stayed in the Arnold family and his descendants lived there until 1918. As you can imagine, much changed around the family home with the switch from farming as a main source of income to different industries. The Arnold’s did a good job of adapting to the changing industries, owning a blacksmith shop for a time, a corn distillery, and even cotton spinning over the years.
- In 1918 the last generation of the Arnold family gave the house to Historic New England. At that same time, an old tavern from Pawtucket was actually moved behind the Arnold home and is now a residence. It’s a cute little bonus home to peek at while there!
My Favorite Spots
This was the main room you enter into when visiting the home, and the room that was used as Publick House. It’s easy to imagine this being a jovial gathering spot for both local families & those traveling through the area. The fireplace is giant – especially the hearth stones! I can’t imagine the effort those took to get into place.
While it’s not really a spot, its definitely my favorite feature of the home. So unique, I’ve never seen anything like it!
Positioned in the back of the house, this would have been the “true” kitchen. The guide told me they chose this location as it was coolest spot in the house – and since it was 90+ degrees on the day I visited, I can confirm that this room in fact was much cooler than the Great Room! Another amazing fireplace with GIGANTIC hearth stones!
This was the bedroom above the Great Room, hence the name the Great Chamber. This was where all 12 (gulp!) members of the Arnold Family would have slept in the early 1700s.
- The diamond leaded glass windows, sadly, are not original, and were put in during a renovation in the 1950’s. But I still love their subtle color changes between the panes of glass – so pretty!
- I’ve never thought about the logistics of one of those huge fireplaces – what do you do if there’s a fire? This was the only home that had a clear difference in flooring in front of the fireplace in the Great Chamber, where a box would have been under the floor full of sand to grab quickly if needed. Genius!
- The front door is awesome – with all the nails and the super unique knocker. Another addition in the 1950’s, but it was made to replicate what it may have looked like in the 1700’s. The nails are in a diamond pattern and there are way more than necessary to hold the door together, which would have been a sign of wealth at that time period!
- If you look at the giant hearth stones in the Great Room, you can easily see that they formed the floor boards around the stones – a much better approach than the opposite!
- There was one room I didn’t get to visit on the tour – the attic. And that’s because a lovely little family of bats had made themselves cozy in there – so I appreciated not visiting, thank you very much. However, the tour guide said that this typically happens one way or another every summer, so if you go in the spring or fall you should be fine to see it!
- As I mentioned above, there seems to be a lot of history to Great Road – and there are tons of protected woods in the area. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!