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Babcock Smith House Photo.  Rhode Island History

Babcock-Smith House, Built ca 1735, Photo 1935

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Historical Museum Guide for Rhode Island

A directory of Historical Museums in Rhode Island, categorized by county.

Taking a trip to Rhode Island?  A visit to these Rhode Island history museums and historic sites will allow you to soak up some local history and culture while you are there.  Visit a historical museum and gain insight into the history of your Rhode Island ancestors and the way they lived.

Some history museum have virtual tours and historic photos to view online! 

Rhode Island Museums      Museum Index for Other States

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Roger Williams Memorial

Site of the original 1636 settlement.

Roger Williams Memorial.  Rhode Island History Photo,

Photo1905 Detroit Publishing Co.,  American Memory

 

 

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Rhode Island History Museums

Bristol County

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum  

[History]

This grand mansion home, is filled with period furnishings.  The third floor contains archival collections about the lives of the Blithewold family members. Weddings are a frequent event here.

Coggeshall Farm Living History Museum

[Photos]

This living history museum is located on 48 acres and provides visitors with a glimpse into the agricultural history of Rhode Island.  Historically costumed interpreters perform tasks one would have seen on a Rhode Island coastal farm during the Federal Period.  Located on Coggeshall Farm Road in Bristol, RI.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University

The museum houses exhibits focused on the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.  Located at 300 Tower Street in Bristol, RI.

Herreshoff Marine Museum

Home to America's Cup Hall of Fame, the museum preserves and presents the history of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and the America's Cup competition.  Located on beautiful Narragansett Bay at One Burnside Street in Bristol, RI.

Linden Place

[Virtual Tour]  [Mansion & Grounds Tours]

Built in 1810 by General George DeWolf, Linden Place is beautifully restored and offers docent guided tours or self-guided tours.  Visitors will learn how the DeWolf family lived and their financial ups and downs during Victorian times.  Located at 500 Hope Street in Bristol, RI.

Mount Hope Farm

[Photo Gallery]

Mount Hope Farm is open on Saturdays seasonally.  Visitors will find fresh veggies, fabulous food, live music and other activities at this historical site.  The following properties are known as The Inn at Mount Hope Farms and allow visitors to stay in historical guest rooms. 

The Governor Bradford Inn was built in 1745.  The Georgian style house features 4 guest rooms.

The North Pasture Guest House is a cottage built in the 18th century and features 4 guest rooms.

The South Pasture House was built in the 1930s and features a suite and guest rooms as well. 

The Grounds have been used as a country retreat for over 265 years and is being historically preserved.  Located at 250 Metacom Avenue (Route 136) in Bristol, RI.

 

Kent County

Apponaug Village

Settled in 1696, this historic village has it's beginnings in Native American roots.  It is located in the heart of Warwick, RI.  Visitors can obtains a booklet at City Hall highlighting the 30 historic structures in Apponaug Village and a walking tour route.  Call 1-800-4-WARWICK for more information.

Clouds Hill Victorian House Museum

Built in 1872 by William Smith Slater for his daughter Elizabeth upon her marriage, this Victorian beauty has remained in the same family for over 140 years.  Today, the owner invites visitors to her family home and operates a museum inside.  The home is filled with textiles and household items dating back to the 1870s and features antique wagons, carriages and even a fire truck on the property.  Located at 4157 Post Road in East Greenwich, RI.

Daggett House

Built in 1865, the house has been preserved by the Pawtucket Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution whose early members included 8 "real daughters" whose fathers had been part of the American Revolution.  The house is furnished with period antiques, Colonial pewter and china, needlework, furniture and Civil war uniforms and artifacts.  Located at 16 2nd Street in Pawtucket, RI.

James Mitchell Varnum House Museum   [History]

Built in 17733 for lawyer - James Mitchell Varnum, the mansion overlooks Greenwich Bay and features a two acre lot of lawns and formal gardens.  Visitors may request tours and the mansion may be rented for special events and weddings.  Located at 57 Pierce Street in East Greenwich, RI.

The New England Wireless and Steam Museum

[Photos & Information]

The museum is housed in a complex of five buildings.  Exhibits include the Massie Wireless System Station built in 1907.  It is the oldest surviving working wireless station in the world.  There is a large collection of wireless items in another building at the site.  The Mayes Building houses the Mechanical Engineering Library and a collection of steam engine models.  Also moved to this site is the 1822 historical meeting house which has been saved and is available to use for meetings and weddings. Located at 1300 Frenchtown Road in East Greenwich, RI.

Paine House Historical Museum

Built in 1669 (other sources say 1748) and located at 7 Station Street in Coventry, RI, this historic site was used as an inn by Francis Brayton Jr and in 1849 was sold to Charles Holden, which then became known as Holden Tavern.  After being sold to Phebe Paine, the house remained in the Paine family for 87 years.  It has been restored, furnished in period style and filled with antiques and treasures.

Pawtuxet Village Historical District

[Pawtuxet Historic Buildings]  [Pawtuxet History]  

Pawtuxet Historical District is steeped in Colonial & Victorian history and features many historical buildings and homes.

Slater Mill

The Old Slater Mill was built in 1793 and is known as the first successful factory in U.S. history.  Cotton thread was produced in the mill until 1829.  Visitors to this National Historic Landmark will find a museum complex devoted to the history of the American Industrial Revolution.  Olden days will come alive through tours, exhibits, collections of artifacts, a research library, a theatre and gift shops.  Learn about local artisans, women's rights, cotton, immigration and the industry of Rhode Island.  Buildings in the complex include, the Old Slater Mill, the 1810 Wilkinson Mill, the 1758 Sylvanus Brown House, a 120 seat theatre, 2 gift shops, a gallery and a recreational park.  Located on the Blackstone River at 67 Roosevelt Avenue in Pawtucket, RI.

Varnum Memorial Armory and Military History Museum

The Armory was built in 1913 by the Varnum Contentinals in a medieval architectural style.  The Armory still serves as the Varnum Contentinal's headquarters.  An extensive Military and Naval Museum is also located on the premises.  Featured items in the museum include antique military weapons, uniforms and artifacts along with present day items as well.  Located at 6 Main Street in East Greenwich, RI.

 

Newport County

 

Jamestown Windmill

Jamestown, RI

Astors' Beechwood Mansion 

Astors Beechwood Mansion SOLD!

Living history tours are offered at this famous mansion along with theatrical productions by the Beechwood Theatre Company.  Many weddings are performed here annually.  Located at 580 Bellevue Ave. in Newport, RI.

Babcock - Smith House Museum 

[History]

This Georgian-style mansion was built ca 1734.  Today the house holds furnishings from the Colonial era when it was occupied by the Babcocks and Victorian items reflecting when it was occupied by the Smith family.  Open to visitors, the historic home is located at 124 Granite Street in Westerly, RI

Beavertail Lighthouse Museum   [History]

This museum overlooking Narragansett Bay, details the history of what is known as the third oldest lighthouse on the Atlantic seacoast.  Located on the southernmost tip of Jamestown, RI, the lighthouse site adjoins to Beavertail State Park.

Belcourt Castle Historic Mansion

Located at 657 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Breakers, The - Vanderbilt Historic House

Built ca 1893, the mansion boasts 70 rooms of Italian Renaissance-style palazzo.  Tours are available with the Newport Mansions Tours.  Located at 44 Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, RI.

Casey Farm

A living history, working farm, located on 300 acres overlooking Narragansett Bay, RI.  Built in 1750, the farmhouse saw the coming and going of the Revolutionary War.  Visit at 2325 Boston Neck Road in Saunderstown, RI.

Chateau-sur-Mer - Webmore Historic Mansion

Completed in 1852, it was once known as the most palatial residence in Newport.  this National Historic Landmark is operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County and is open seasonally.  Located at 474 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Chepstow

This beautiful Italianate-style villa was built in 1860 as the summer home of Edmund Schermerhorn and later acquired in 1911 by Mrs. Emily Morris Gallatin.  The home remained in the Morris family until 1986 when acquired by the Preservation Society of Newport County.  The historic home is filled with original Morris-Gallatin furnishings, 19th century American paintings.  Open seasonally, Chepstow is located at 120 Narragansett Avenue in Newport, RI.

Elms, The - Historical Berwind Mansion

Once the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York, the home was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer, who modeled it after the ca 1750 French chateau d'Asnieres outside Paris, France.  Completed in 1901, the ornate mansion is operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County and is open seasonally.  Located at 367 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Eisenhower House  

[History]

Commonly referred to as the Summer Whitehouse, the mansion was built in 1873 as the summer home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Location is 1 Lincoln Drive in Fort Adams State Park in Newport, RI.

Fort Adams State Park  

[History]  [Photos]

The largest coastal fort ever erected in the United States is just across the Newport Harbor.  Visitors to the Fort can tour the grounds and explore the tunnel system of this grand military fort.  Special events offer military re-enactments and musical festivals.  Take the Jamestown & Newport Ferry to get there. 

Fort Wetherill State Park   [History]

During the time of the Revolutionary War, this site was known as Dumpling Rock and in 1800, Fort Dumpling was established.  In 1898 this fort was enlarged and renamed in honor of Captain Alexander Wetherill who was killed in the Spanish American War.  The fort was used again during both WWI and WWII but was not further used as a military establishment.  Today it's ruins can be explored by visitors.  Located on Wetherill Road in Fort Wetherill State Park, RI.

Hunter House - Historic Home

Hunter House was built by Jonathon Nichols, Jr., prosperous merchant and colonial deputy.  Purchased by Colonel Joseph Wanton, JR in the 1750s, the house was enlarged and turned into a formal Georgian mansion.  After the Revolutionary war, the house was acquired by William Hunter, a US Senator.  The Preservation Society of Newport County restored Hunter House to the era of Colonel Wanton and today the house has exhibits of the finest arts and crafts of 18th century Newport.  Located at 54 Washington Street in Newport, RI.

Isaac Bell Historic House

Built in 1883 for Isaac Bell, a wealthy cotton broker, the house is a National Historic Landmark and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.  It is currently being restored. Located at 70 Perry Street in Newport, RI.

International Tennis Hall of Fame

Housed inside the historic Newport Casino, the Tennis Hall of Fame details the history of tennis from the 12th century through today along with the history of the Newport Casino.  Located at 194 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Jamestown Fire Department Memorial Museum

See and learn about the history of the Jamestown Fire Department in this historical site.  Located at 50 Narragansett Avenue in Jamestown, RI.

Jamestown Historical Society Museum

Housed in an old schoolhouse built in 1886, the Jamestown Museum is devoted to the collection, preservation and exhibition of the heritage of Jamestown, RI.  Located at 92 Narragansett Avenue in RI.

Jamestown Quaker Meetinghouse

The Quaker Meetinghouse was built in 1786-1787 as a replacement to the meetinghouse which was destroyed during the Revolutionary War.  The historic meetinghouse stood empty for a century before being reopened by Philadelphia Quakers for worship again.  It is currently open for worship on Sundays in the summertime.  At other times, call for an appointment for a tour of the inside of the Quaker Meetinghouse.  Located on North Road, east of Watson Farm in Jamestown, RI.

Jamestown Windmill

Built in 1787, the Jamestown Windmill is a working windmill sitting on Windmill Hill in the center of the island.  Open seasonally and on Windmill Day.  Located on North Road, east of Watson Farm in Jamestown, RI.

Kingscote Historic House

Built in 1839 for Southern Planter, George Noble Jones.  The house was purchased by William Henry King in 1864 and remained in the King family until 1972 when it was left to the Preservation Society of Newport County.  This National Historic Landmark and filled with original family collections.  Located at 253 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Marble House - Vanderbilt Historic Summer Home

Built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt as a summer cottage, Marble House was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and was inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  The home has an unbelievable 500,000 cubic feet of marble, hence the name "Marble House".  Operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County, the property is located at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Middletown Historical Society Museums

The Middletown Historical Society operates 3 properties. 

  • Paradise School built ca 1875 is a one-room schoolhouse.  The Middletown Historical Society's headquarters is located here.  Featured are exhibits and displays related to the history of Middletown.  Located adjacent to Paradise Valley Park at the corner of Paradise and Prospect Avenues in Middletown, RI.

  • Boyd's Wind Grist Mill built ca 1810 was originally located in Portsmouth.  Open to the public seasonally with trained docents on hand.  Moved to Paradise Park at the corner of Paradise and Prospect Avenues in Middletown, RI.

  • Witherbee School built ca 1892 is a one-room schoolhouse.  It has been fully restored to an authentic 1900 classroom and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Open to the public seasonally.  Located at the northeast corner of Valley Road and Green End Avenue in Middletown, RI.

Museum of Newport Irish History

Visitors to The Museum of Newport Irish History will learn about Irish immigration to Newport County from the 1600s to present time and their impact on the Newport Irish-American community.  Exhibits include maps, historical documents, photos, videos and artifacts.  Located at 648 Lower Thames Street in Newport, RI.

Museum & Shop at Brick Market

Located at 127 Thames Street in Newport, RI, this museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of Newport, Rhode Island.  Properties owned by the Newport Historical Society museum include the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House and the Great Friends Meeting House and they have an expanding collection of genealogy materials.

Naval War College Museum

Unless you have military ID, you must make advance reservations to visit this Military Museum.  Call 401-841-4052 for reservations.  Located at the Naval War College at 686 Cushing Road in Newport, RI.

Newport Art Museum

The Newport Art Museum is devoted to the collection, preservation, exhibit and interpretation of both historic and contemporary visual arts.  Emphasis is on the rich artistic heritage of Newport and the state of Rhode Island.  Located at 76 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Newport Historical Mansions

The Preservation Society of Newport County has restored and operates many of the beautiful ornate historical mansions of Newport, Rhode island.

Rosecliff Historic Mansion

Designed after the Grand Trianon in Versailels, Rosecliff was completed in 1902.  Many of Newport's famed lavish parties were held in the mansion.  The house and all of it's furnishings were given to the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1971.  The house is beautifully restored and has been used in such movies as The Great Gatsby, Amistad, True Lies and 27 Dresses.  Located at 548 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI.

Rose Island Lighthouse

Rose Island Lighthouse was built on an 18 acre island in 1869 and was used for over 100 years.  After the Pell Newport Bridge was built, the lighthouse was abandoned.  Today, it has been restored to it's 1912 appearance and has been relit.  The lighthouse is very interestingly maintained by vacationers who stay on Rose Island a week at a time and are taught to take care of the light.  Located on Rose Island in Narragansett Bay.  Visitors can take the Jamestown Newport Ferry to the island where they are greeted by tour guides who will educate them about the history of the Rose Island Lighthouse.

Samuel Whitehorne House Museum

The Whitehorne house is a Federal-style mansion along the Newport waterfront.  The house is surrounded by beautiful formal gardens filled with historic and vintage plants.  The Whitehorne House holds a remarkable collection of 18th century Newport furniture known as the Doris Duke Collection.  Located at 416 Thames Street in Newport, RI.

Seventh Day Baptist Meeting House

This meeting house is the oldest surviving Baptist Church building in the United States.  Constructed in 1730, the beautiful church features oak beams and carved wood paneling.  Located adjacent to the Newport Historical Society at 82 Tour Street in Newport, RI.

Tiverton Four Corners

[Historic Houses]  [Four Corners Art Center]

[Tiverton Four Corners Meeting House]

Tiverton Four Corners is a historical village on the National Register of Historic Places.  Visitors to the historic village of Tiverton Four Corners will find over 300 years of history brought to life.  There are many historic homes and buildings from both the 18th and 19th centuries.  An art center is located in the Soule-Seabury House, homes are available for tours, cozy shops abound for the shopper and there are several festivals throughout the year.  The Meeting House is available for weddings and events.  Located in the Historic District on Main Road in Tiverton, RI.

Tiverton Historical Society Museum on FaceBook

The Tiverton Historical Society, is dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of the history of Tiverton, RI.  Located at 3908 Main Road in Tiverton, RI.

Touro Synagogue

[History]  [Virtual Tour]

The Touro Synagogue in Newport was completed in 1763 to serve the growing Jewish community in Newport.  Today, it is a National Historic Site and the Touro Synagogue's holdings include historical documents detailing the Jewish-American history in Newport and the state of Rhode Island.  This building is still used as an active house of worship.  Located at 85 Tour Street in Newport, RI.

Watson Farm

[Watson Farm History]

The Watson Farm dates back to 1789 when Job Watson began cultivating this land.  Today, this working family farm covers 265 acres and uses traditional farming and cattle raising techniques.  The farm house was built in 1796, is privately owned and not open to the public.  Visitors may take a self-guided walking tour of the farm.  Located at 455 North road in Jamestown, RI.

Westerly Armory

[Military Honor Roll]

Built in 1901, the Westerly Armory holds memorabilia from the area's people, businesses & culture along with military memorabilia from the men and women of the Westerly community who have served in the armed forces.  Located at 41 Railroad Avenue in Westerly, RI.

Whitehall Museum House  [History]

Once the home to Bishop George Berkeley, the farmhouse was enlarged in 1729 to become a country manor house.  Today the house is operated as a museum by the Whitehall Committee of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.   Inside the home has been furnished with furnishings from the 18th century.  Open to the public.  Guided tours featured during the season.  Located at 311 Berkeley Avenue in Middletown, RI.

Wilbor House Museum

[Online Collection]

Operated by the Little Compton Historical Society, The Wilbor House dates from 1690.  Located at 548 West Main Road (Route 77) in Little Compton, RI.

 

Providence County

Annmary Brown Memorial

The memorial houses art exhibits of 17th through 20th century paintings from Europe and America.  Located at 21 Brown Street in Providence, RI.

Cape Verdean Museum

Featuring two rooms of artifacts and photos, the Cape Verdean Museum is a place where visitors can learn about the history and geography of Cape Verde.  Located at 1003 Waterman Avenue in East Providence, RI.

Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum

Great Road Historic District

Heritage Harbor Museum

John Brown Historical House Museum

John Hunt House

[Museum Artifacts Showcase]

Built sometime between 1749 & 1759, for Lt. John Hunt Jr. and his family, the house is home to the East Providence Historical Society and has been almost completely restored.  Visitors may tour the house museum and learn more about the history of East Providence.  On the grounds is a heritage garden filled with historical plants. Located at 65 Hunts Mills Road in Rumford, RI.

Johnston History Museum  [History of Johnston]

Housed inside the 1825 Elijah Angel House and operated by the Johnston Historical Society, the museum is set up on the first floor with period New England furnishings.  Behind the house is the Museum Barn, a reproduction of a post and beam barn.  Inside are artifacts and documents related to the local history.  Located at 101 Putnam Pike in Johnston, RI.

Joy Homestead

Museum of Work and Culture

Providence Historic Homes and Sites

Rhode Island Black Heritage Society and Exhibits

Roger Williams National Memorial and Park

The National Memorial honors the life of the founder of Rhode Island.  Visit the Visitor Center to learn about the contributions Roger Williams made for the cause of religious freedom in the United States.

Russian Submarine Museum  

[History of Juliett 484 Submarine: K-77]

Located at Collier Point Park, it is the only Russian Submarine on display in North America.

Slater Mill - Living History Museum

Experience what life was like for New England villagers.  Interpreters in authentic costume explain and demonstrate life in the 1830s.  Historic buildings include the 1758 Sylvanus Brown House, the Wilkinson Mill and the old Slater Mill.  A learning experience for all ages.  Location: 67 Roosevelt Ave, Pawtucket, RI.

Sprague Mansion in Cranston

Visitors will enjoy a tour of the well maintained mansion which is filled with antique items that belonged to the Sprague family. The Sprague Mansion is also available for event rentals. Located at 1351 Cranston Street in Cranston, RI.

Stephen Hopkins House

[Stephen Hopkins History Timeline]

The home of Stephen Hopkins, governor, merchant and ship builder and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  Open to the public for tours but visitors are advised to call for times and appointments.  Located at 15 Hopkins Street in Providence, RI.  Phone: 401-421-0694.

 

Washington County

1838 District #2 Schoolhouse

Open seasonally and by appointment.  Located at 4417 Old Post Road in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

Gilbert Stuart's Birthplace and History Museum   [Brochure]

Visitors will be transported back in time when they enter the 1750 home of the Stuart family.  Learn about daily life in the 1700s, visit the working grist mill, see the portraits of Gilbert Stuart and learn about his life.  Located at 815 Gilbert Stuart Road in Saunderstown, RI.

Pettaquamscutt Historical Society Museum & Library

[History of the Washington County Jail]

Located in the Old Washington County Jail, the historical society focuses on the study and appreciation of the region's history.  The society holds collections of antique furniture, historical artifacts, decorative arts, manuscripts, books, photographs, slides, negatives, maps, newsprint and other items related to the history and heritage of Kingston and the surrounding area.  A research library is available for those interested in research of Washington County and Rhode Island.  Located at 2636 Kingstown Road in Kingston, RI.

Smith's Castle History Museum

South Country Living History Museum

Westerly Armory   [Photos]  [History]

The largest memorial to service members in South Country, RI was erected between 1901 and 1902.  The museum displays military and community memorabilia and is home to the Westerly Band.

 

Museum Index for Other States

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