Your Town, Your Life: North Kingstown
By: Alexandra Cowley
This week in our segment of Your Town, Your Life, we visit North Kingstown. An area with rich history and a lot of really neat places, including a castle.
Welcome to North Kingstown, founded in 1974, more than 26,000 people call the quaint community home. Including retired teacher Jan Breault.
“This area is so old, it's got to be something we preserve,” said Breault.
Breault cherishes the history of the area so much, she became a volunteer at Smith's Castle. A two story wooden home hidden at the end of a dirt road with a history that spans 4 centuries. It doesn't look like a castle, but there's a reason for its name.
Breault said, “When the British came here, castle was the word they used to mean a safe place.”
Settler Richard Smith is the business partner of Roger Wiliams and motivation for the Castle's name. The two ran a trading post at the castle back in the early 1600's. But even before then, The Naragansett's were on the land. That is until Roger Williams convinced them to share.
“We're not here to disturb your life or take your land and of course that's not the way it worked out at all,” laughed Breault.
Soon after, William's took off to England to get a charter from the King to allow the colony of Rhode Island to self rule. It did, peacefully, between the English and Native Americans for nearly four decades. Until King Phillips war, or the Great Swamp Massacre in 1675. That's when the original Smith's Castle was burned down. Forty soldiers were buried on the land.
Breault said, “The Native Americans that were part of the Great Swamp Battle were sold into slavery or killed.”
Breault showed us an orginal list with the names of slaves living at Smith's Castle and their worth in pounds.
“The more the skill, the more the value of their property,” said Breault.
The Castle was rebuilt and over the next 2 hundred years it was a trading post, dairy farm, and clothing mill.
Until some local families bought the property in the 1948 and made it into the museum it is Today.
The Castle is still open because of volunteers who host fundraisers, school tours, and even weddings on the lawn.
The area also lays claim to the picture on the dollar bill. Gilbert Stuart was born in Saunderstown. He painted the portrait of George Washington you see on the one dollar bill.
You can still visit Stuart's birthplace. Tours include the house and a working flour mill. It's a beautiful setting. It's closed now for the Winter but reopening in the Spring.
There are also some historic churches in the area too, including the Baptist church on Old Baptist Road. It is one of the oldest churches in the United States. Built back in 1703.
There's also the Poplar Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1831. It's in the Wickford area. It is the oldest surviving wooden lighthouse tower in the nation.
We can't forget The Devil's Foot rock, a natural impression that looks like a footprint. Legend has it that a woman was brewing potions on the rock, when the devil came to claim her soul. He chased her, leaving his footprint on the rock. It's located north of Wickford near the entrance to Quonset off Post Road.
We may not have discovered all North Kingstown has to offer, if it wasn't for 14-year-old Nathan St. Pierre who contacted us and convinced us it was a special place.
St. Pierre says, “its like Roger Williams in 1637 founded this town and it was so long ago and has such a long history and people need to know what its about.”
Make sure to tune in next week to see where John DeLuca is headed.
(C) WLNE-TV 2014