The Greater Providence &
Newport Area Information

The past comes alive in the Greater Providence
area’s many historical landmarks. If you don’t find the
information you’re looking at here send us an email at

Historical Highlights

Incredible as it may seem, the smallest state has more than 20% of the entire nation’s registered historic landmarks.

  • In 1636 Roger Williams founded the first permanent English settlement in Rhode Island at Providence on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians
  • 1642 Warwick was founded by Samuel Gorton and eleven of his followers when the men purchased 107 square miles of land from Miantonami, chief sachem of the Narragansett Indian tribe
  • 1639 America’s first Baptist Church was formed in Providence
  • 1652 Rhode Island enacted the first law against slavery in North America
  • 1763 Founded in Newport, Touro Synagogue is the oldest Jewish house of worship in America
  • 1775 The U.S. Navy was born in Newport
  • 1775 The first Baptist Church in America was built in Providence
  • 1776 Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to Great Britain and declare independence
  • Circa 1800 The state capitol houses Rhode Island native Gilbert Stuart’s historic painting of George Washington, famous for its appearance on the $1 bill 1828 The Arcade, America’s first indoor shopping center, opened in downtown Providence
  • 1872 The concept for the American diner originated in Providence
  • 1887 The first torpedo boat in the nation, Stiletto, was built by the Herreshoff Boat Yard in Bristol
  • 1952 Future President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married in St. Mary’s Church in Newport
  • A focal point for cultural diversity and art appreciation, Providence and vicinity provides the perfect venue for curator and spectator alike.

Belcourt Castle

657 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840 401-846-0669
Open year-round for guided tours and special events. Knights in armor in the gothic ballroom and art treasures from 33 countries grace this magnificent 19th-century summer chateau of Alva (Vanderbilt) and Oliver Belmont.

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

One Depot Square, Woonsocket, RI 02895 401-762-0440
The American Industrial Revolution began in the Blackstone River Valley. Congress established the National Heritage Corridor to assist in protecting and celebrating this living landscape that spans from Providence, Rhode Island to Worcester, Massachusetts.

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum

101 Ferry Road, Bristol, RI 02809 401-253-2707
This was the summer home of Pennsylvania coal baron and Brown University graduate, Augustus Van Wickle and his family. The estate features a 45-room, early 20th-century mansion overlooking Narragansett Bay and 33 acres of historic landscape.

Culinary Archives & Museum at Johnson & Wales University

315 Harborside Boulevard, Providence RI 02905 401-598-2805
The Culinary Archives & Museum is devoted to the preservation of culinary arts and hospitality history spanning five millenniums. It is often referred to as “The Smithsonian Institution of the Food Service Industry.”

David Winton Bell Gallery, List Art Center

264 College Street, Providence, RI 02912 401-863-2932
The Bell Gallery is located in the List Art Center, designed by Philip Johnson. Founded in 1971, the Gallery presents major art exhibitions examining both contemporary and historical subjects.

Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island

105 Upper College Road, Suite 1, Kingston, RI 02881-0820 401-874-2775
Our state’s own galleries are comprised of the Main, Photography and Corridor exhibition spaces. The Galleries offer a constantly changing program of contemporary art in all media by nationally and internationally recognized and emerging artists.

Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum

199 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906 401-453-0688
The high-style, historical, Victorian house museum’s interior craftsmanship includes richly carved woodwork, colorful stenciling and faux finishes.

Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University

300 Tower Street, Bristol, RI 02809 401-253-8388
Located on the traditional lands of the Wampanoag peoples, the Museum features four intimate galleries of fascinating artifacts from the native peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Its bayside setting is an ideal place for contemplation.

Jamestown Museum

92 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown, RI 02835 401-423-0784
A small museum featuring an exhibit of ferry boat history and memorabilia and an annual special exhibit regarding Jamestown’s history.

John Brown House Museum

52 Power Street, Providence, RI 02906 401-331-8575
This palatial three-story mansion was built in 1786 for John Brown, Providence’s most prominent merchant. The furniture and decorative arts, in period room settings, feature many original Brown family pieces including a nine shell desk and bookcase considered to be one of the finest pieces of American Colonial furniture in existence.

Library of Rhode Island History

121 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906 401-331-8575
The Library features genealogical, graphics, and manuscript collections pertaining to Rhode Island history. The Library houses the third largest genealogical collection in New England; the manuscript collection dates to 1652; and the graphics collection includes more than a quarter-of-a-million images.

Museum of Natural History & Planetarium

Roger Williams Park, Providence, RI 02905 401-785-9457
Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and home to its only public planetarium, it is a scientific and cultural resource offering exhibitions, workshops and multi-media events that encourage children and families to discover the wonders of our world and its people.

Museum of Rhode Island History

Aldrich House, 110 Benevolent Street, Providence, RI 02906
The Museum features changing exhibitions that focus on the state’s history, architecture, decorative arts, photography and popular culture. In addition, the Aldrich House is currently home to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

Museum of Work and Culture

42 South Main Street, Market Square, Woonsocket, RI 02895 401-769-9675
The Museum presents the compelling and touching story of the French-Canadians who left the farms of Quebec for the factories of New England. It tells the remarkable cultural preservation story of faith, language and customs.

Museum of Yachting

Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI 02840 401-847-1018
See “Courageous” America’s Cup winner, Small Craft Gallery, Mansions and Yachts exhibit, Singlehanded Hall of Fame, America’s Cup gallery, in-water boat collection and “Pirates & Privateers.”

Naval War College Museum

686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841-1207 401-841-4052
Located in Founders Hall (1820), a National Historic Landmark, on Coasters Harbor Island, Newport. The Museum features exhibits on the history of naval warfare, particularly as studied at the College, the senior professional school in the Navy, and on the naval heritage of Narragansett Bay.

Newport Art Museum

76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840 401-848-8200
The Museum presents special exhibitions of work by important regional artists, historic and contemporary, as well as stimulating classes for adults and children. Special events include the Artists’ Ball (April) and Wet Paint (August), summer musical picnics and a winter lecture series.

Providence Children’s Museum

100 South Street, Providence, RI 02903 401-273-KIDS
Providence Children’s Museum is a hands-on place where kids and grown-ups play and learn together. Explore the swirling, whirling ways of water. Discover the secret world beneath the city streets. Find out how much fun learning can be!

Quonset Air Museum

488 Eccleston Avenue, North Kingstown, RI 02852 401-294-9540
Located in a 50,000-square-foot, vintage military hanger adjacent to Quonset State Airport. The Museum’s mission is to preserve and promote Rhode Island’s contributions to aviation history.

The RISD Museum

Rhode Island School of Design, 224 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
02903 401-454-6500
Rhode Island’s leading museum of fine and decorative arts. More than 85,000 works of art, some of the finest examples of their kind from every part of the world, are just steps from downtown Providence.

Roger Williams National Memorial

282 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903 401-521-7266
Located on the site of Roger Williams’ original 1636 settlement in Providence, the Memorial offers a Visitor Center with exhibits and videos exploring Williams’ contributions to the principles of freedom in this country.

Slater Mill Historic Site

67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02862 401-725-8638
“The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution” houses textile machinery, a theater, and galleries. The site also includes the Sylvanus Brown House (c. 1758) and the Wilkinson Mill (c. 1810) which houses a 2-ton operational water wheel.

South County Museum

Canonchet Farm, Narragansett, RI 02882 401-783-5400
The museum features over 20,000 artifacts dating from 1800 to the late 1940’s arranged and displayed in historically accurate exhibits. Country kitchen, general store, blacksmith’s shop, Yankee crafts and more.

Thames Science Center

77 Long Wharf, Newport, RI 02840 401-849-6966
The LEGO Mindstorms Robotic Invention System is only one of the intelligent toys featured in The Toy Factor: An Exhibit of Smart Toys. Explore with state-of-the-art digital microscopes and telescopes. Even the yo-yo’s have brains!

Warwick Museum of Art

3259 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886 401-737-0010
The gallery features exhibitions by local artists with the primary focus on talented young professionals who have not yet been discovered by the public. Approximately eight exhibitions are offered annually. Also features art classes and a monthly concert series.

This is a sampling of the many museums Rhode Island has to offer.
Information provided courtesy of Rhode Island Tourism Development Advisory Council.

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau
One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 800 233-1636 (in RI: 401 274-1636)
Fax: 401 351-2090