Your Town, Your Life: Cranston - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Your Town, Your Life: Cranston

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By News Staff

Reporting by ABC 6 News Anchor John DeLuca

The Sprague Mansion has been a fixture on the corner of Cranston Street and Dyer Ave since 1790.

It grew to its full splendor in 1865 when the really fancy part with the formal dining room, ball room and three levels were added on.

"In 1966 the Cranston Print works owned it and they were going to knock down the house and build a high rise,” says Sandra Moyer of the Cranston Historian Society “And that's when the Cranston Historical Society raised the money to buy it."

Saving history is noble but it isn't cheap. The historical society receives some annual grants but grants don't pay the bills. So the mansion and the museum are rented out for small weddings, parties, receptions even political fundraiser's.

They've also turned a potential negative, into a positive. In October, right around Halloween, they have a "Charlie the Butler" ghost party.

As the story goes, one night back in the 1960's some college kids had a séance with a weegee board.

"The weegee board was going you know, when you ask, who am I talking to?” says Moyer, “And it said Charlie the Butler and that's where they got the information but we don't have any information to back it up that there was ever a Charlie the Butler here."

It makes for a great story to tell around Halloween. Not that the old mansion needs any ghost stories.

Generations of super wealthy Sprague’s created plenty of soap opera like drama.

A controversial murder, dashing civil war soldier, are just two of the intriguing Sprague’s that make the old place such a treasure for Cranston and the efforts to keep it open that much more vital.

"It’s an expensive proposition but we don't want to see it fall into hands of people who want to knock it down again," says Moyer.

Part of the fundraising effort by the Cranston Historical Society includes selling this book "Cranston Revisited". It's loaded with pictures and background information of the city dating back to the 1700's.

Some of those pictures came from Cranston residents who lent them to the society for the book.

A big part of Cranston’s history was destroyed just over 3 years ago.

The 8,000 square foot clubhouse of the Edgewood Yacht Club originally built in 1908 was reduced to rubble in January of 2011.

During low tide, you can see the stubs of the original pilings.

Now three years later, we are told they will soon break ground on a smaller, traditional design, 3 level clubhouse built entirely over water.

The plan is to have the grand re–opening in the spring of 2015.

Brown University and the Moses Brown School are partnering with the club picking up some of the construction costs.

It's difficult to imagine in 2014, Cranston the bustling suburb that it is.

But in its earliest days, it was largely an agricultural area and that legacy lives on through the Confreda Greenhouses and Farms.

It’s located right off Scituate Ave, Vinny Confreda Sr. and his son Vinny Jr run the family business, growing and selling annuals, vegetables, hanging plants, a farmer's market and the always popular Halloween thrill.

Scary acres haunted hayride and corn maze. They're open 7 days a week.

If there is something unique about your community, go to and let us know. ABC 6 News Anchors Alexandra Cowley and John DeLuca would love to come and do a story about it.

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