My visit to the Clemence-Irons house rounds out all Historic New England homes in the state of Rhode Island – woot woot!
- Thomas Clemence is the first ‘on-record’ owner of this property in 1654, who eventually grew his original 8 acre purchase into one hundred acres. Thomas & his wife Elizabeth had four children, and eventually left the property to his son Richard, who is attributed with building the structure you see today in 1691.
- The home is another example of the rare ‘stone ender’ (similar to the Arnold House, located just a few towns over!), tracing it’s architectural roots back to Wales & Sussex in England.
- Richard Clemence passed away in 1723, and left the property (which now contained over 300 acres) to his son Thomas, and it is in these documents that this structure is first officially referenced.
- In 1740, the home & property – now at 370 acres! – was sold to the Angell family. It is believed that they leased out the land to farmers until about 1807 when they gave a local company access to the water & land along the property’s edge. This appears to have been an agreement between both parties until the property was again sold, this time to Stephen Sweet, in 1826.
- Almost immediately upon purchasing the property, Stephen Sweet sold off 100 acres to a local cotton manufacturer. He died in 1855, and the property was then parceled off to his children, and his daughter Sarah Manton-Irons and her husband Amasa Irons stayed on the property. At this time they made extensive changes to the home – adding on a front porch, a dormer-style window, and ultimately ended up with 13 rooms (it started off in 1694 with just four!). The farm & home stayed in the Irons family until 1937, and at that time the land had gone through so many subdivisions that less than an acre was left with the home.
- The home was then purchased by Henry Sharpe & his sisters, with the idea to restore it back to what they thought it would have been like in the seventeenth century. They removed everything down to the studs, showcasing the original timbers & frames & massive stone chimney. After their restoration was complete in 1947, they gave the home to Historic New England who maintains it to this day!
My Favorite Spots
Designed to be the warmest room in the house, the kitchen also would have done a double duty to melt the snow off the roof during the frigid Rhode Island winters. There was also a grate in the floor that led down to the root cellar – not an option to visit, and I was a-ok with that.
This was the main living area of the home, with a giant fireplace as the showpiece. Make sure you step right inside and peek up – I’m always amazing at just how large these chimneys are!
Another fun fact about this room are the floor boards. Settlers at this time were forced to send any milled wood above a certain length back to England for the King, and the floorboards in this home were ever-so-slightly shorter (by design?) than the requirements; otherwise, these floors would have been “Kings Wood”!
There are two chambers on the first floor, both with replica’s of what beds would have looked like in the late 1600’s. Cozy little rooms!
The outside of this house is where it wins me over. Even though the look may not be true to what it was in 1691, it’s still pretty in its own right. The windows, the door, and of course the chimney all add to it’s charm!
- Similar to Arnold House, make sure to pick up on these details!
- The front & back doors are gorgeous – the diamond nail work, the hinges – and the colors are beautiful!
- The hearth stones are also ginormous – can’t imagine moving them anywhere!
- The chimney has a similar unique shape – so pretty!
- While the windows are likely not what they would have looked like back in the 1690’s, they sure are pretty. I loved the little flourish detail of the hinge at the bottom!
- The latches in this home are also unique – again, they were likely made that way during the renovations in the 1930’s – but not something I’ve seen before!
- Check out what they think was maybe a height-marker for kids in one of the bedroom chambers!
- This was a quick visit – I think I was in & out within 35 minutes or so. Granted, the tour guide couldn’t get the stairwell door open (it was very humid) so – I’m jealous of anyone that gets to go into the attic!
- Parking was pretty sparse, just right in front of the home on the side of the road.