Best Historical Sites in New England Part Two In Rhode Island vs Massachusetts vs New Hampshire
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria Quinney, Alma, Jay
When it comes to American history, the New England states have got a lot of it, since, from the time the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they have played an important role in shaping the fledgling nation. From the first colony in Plymouth to the wild ride of Paul Revere toward Lexington, all of that history is contained here. We discussed historical sites in Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont in this article, and now, we turn to Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Method 1: In Rhode Island
Rhode Island is one of the original 13 Colonies that made up the United States during Colonial times and the War for Independence. Known for its stance on religious freedom, you'll find many old churches in the state, and it is also where many of the rich industrialists built summer homes for themselves and their families during the Gilded Age.
- 1Chepachet Village Historic District, Glocester. Chepachet Village remains Glocester's town center and includes many historic buildings that date back to colonial and pre-colonial times. During the Revolutionary War, the town served as a haven for loyalists from Newport. If you're there during the 4th of July, you can see the Ancient and Horribles parade, which has been an annual tradition there since 1926.Advertisement
- 2Fort Adams, Newport. Fort Adams operated as a fort from 1799 to 1945 and held a garrison of as many as 2,400 soldiers. It has three tiers of gun batteries protected Narragansett Bay from invaders and offers a 360-degree view of Newport Harbor and the Bay's East Passage. Historical tours of the fort are offered during which you can learn about its role in U.S. history.Advertisement
- 3The Great Friends Meeting House, Newport. The Great Friends Meeting House was built in 1699 and represents one of the oldest buildings in the state. Its plain design illustrates the Quakers' disdain for things ornate and decadent and their embrace of simplicity.
- 4Slater Mill, Pawtucket. Slater Mill is famous for being the first cotton-spinning mill that was powered by water in North America. Samuel Slater built the mill with his partner, Moses Brown, in 1793. It is still operable, and through demonstrations, you can see how it used to function, as well as learn about its history.
- 5Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, Lincoln. The art of blacksmithing is preserved in this shop, which was started by William Hannaway in 1880. You can see live demonstrations of blacksmithing techniques every Saturday and Sunday.
- 6The Arcade, Providence. No, it's not an arcade in the modern sense of the word, but it is the oldest indoor shopping mall in the United States. The building was constructed in 1828, and although it closed down for a few years, it has now reopened with a similar collection of shops as it had back in the day.
- 7The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum, Saunderstown. Gilbert Stuart was a noted portraitist in colonial America. What was perhaps his most famous piece appears on the U.S. one-dollar bill: a portrait of General George Washington, the first President of the United States. The property also contains a working snuff mill.
- 8Southeast Light, Block Island. One of America's most beautiful lighthouses, the Southeast Light was constructed in 1897 and through preservation efforts, remains in good condition today. The lighthouse is open to visitors from the end of May to the beginning of October, and as staffing permits, guided tours are offered during which you can learn about the history of the lighthouse.
- 9The Breakers, Newport. Cornelius Vanderbilt had this beautiful mansion on the sea built in 1893, and it remains a spectacular representation of the wealth that industrialists like him amassed during the Gilded Age. The mansion remains in the Vanderbilt family, and some of his descendants still occupy one of its floors.
- 10Pawtuxet Village Historic District, Cranston, and Warwick. It was in this area that English settlers, including founder Roger Williams and his followers, staked a claim. The Historic District contains many colonial homes and buildings, carefully preserved so that you can see a slice of what life was like during colonial times. The area is also known for striking early blows against the British in the lead-up to the Revolutionary War: Patriots sacked and burned the British schooner HMS Gaspee. Go in early June to experience the annual Gaspee Days Parade, which celebrates that famous event.
- 11The Rhode Island State House, Providence. The Rhode Island State House was built in 1895 and contains one of the world's largest unsupported marble domes. When you walk inside and look up, your breath will be taken away by the beauty of the workmanship, much of it a lost art today. It also contains the 350-year-old charter that established Rhode Island as a colony.
- 12Marble House, Newport. Nearby the Breakers, the Marble House was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt's younger brother, William. William gave it as a present for his wife, Alva's 39th birthday, and like the Breakers, it is an example of the massive wealth the titans of industry hoarded for themselves during the Gilded Age.
- 13Touro Synagogue, Newport. Rhode Island has always been known as a bastion of religious freedom, and for this reason, people of many faiths and denominations settled there, including Jews. Descendants of the Jewish immigrants that first came over in the 17th century built their own synagogue in 1763, where it remains as the oldest surviving synagogue in the United States.
- 14Whitehorse Tavern, Newport. Whitehorse Tavern is the oldest tavern still in use in the United States. Built in 1652 and converted into a tavern in 1673, it was a place where colonial men and women could gather over food and drink, or where a weary traveler could stop for a meal on the road. The tavern is still in operation today, so stop by for a bite to eat during your travels and for an authentic colonial experience.
- 15Major-General Nathanael Greene Homestead, Coventry. Nathanael Greene was an ironsmith who built this house for his family in 1770. He lived there with his family and worked his iron forge until 1775 when he heard the call to arms. He rose through the ranks and was given command of the Southern Armies in 1780, and in 1783, gave his home to his brother Jacob Greene when he moved his family to Georgia. The house is carefully preserved in its colonial character and remains a fine example of life in 18th century America.
Method 2: In Massachusetts
Massachusetts is the site of the first English settlement in the New World and the birthplace of the American Revolution. From Plymouth Rock to Boston and its outskirts, trace the path of the early colonists and their descendants who openly fomented rebellion from the Crown.
- 1Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge. Old Sturbridge Village is a living museum of early America in the 1830's. The village includes the original structures of the time that you can enter and explore as costumed actors perform demonstrations of the tasks that would have occupied the early 19th century townspeople.Advertisement
- 2Plymouth Rock, Plymouth. Purported to mark the spot where the original Mayflower passengers stepped off the boat in the New World, it's an actual rock inscribed with the date 1620, the year the Plymouth Colony was established. More American myth than fact, the story surrounding Plymouth Rock was first advanced by Thomas Faunce, who was 94 at the time and claimed that his grandfather, who had been a passenger on the Mayflower showed it to him. Plymouth Rock has endured as an American icon since that time.
- 3USS Massachusetts, Fall River. The USS Massachusetts is one of the warships on display at the naval museum, Battleship Cove. She saw action during World War II in both the European and Pacific Theaters and was affectionately called "Big Mamie" by her crew. She was supposed to be scrapped for steel in 1962, but her crew got together enough money to have her moved to Fall River in 1965, where she has been ever since.
- 4The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, Fall River. Lizzie Borden is the infamous girl who allegedly killed her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892. She was acquitted of both murders. The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast is located in the house where the murders were committed. Tours of the house are conducted daily, and if you are a guest of the Bed & Breakfast, the tour is in the house. The Bed & Breakfast also has a resident psychic from whom you can request readings as well as ghost cams where you can try to spot the ghosts of Lizzie's alleged victims, or perhaps Lizzie herself!
- 5The Big E, West Springfield. The Big E is an annual event that begins in the middle of September and runs until the beginning of October. It is a gigantic fair, with music, dancing, and competitions in everything from farming to art. Each one of the original New England states has their own building where they exhibit vendors from their state as well as feature local cuisine. It's like your local fair on steroids.
- 6The USS Constitution, Boston. Affectionately called "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution was one of the original frigates in the fledgling nation's navy, and it remains the nation's oldest commissioned warship. This venerable ship was victorious in all 40 battles in which it participated and is open for guided tours given by the men that still serve on her today.
- 7Boston Tea Party Museum, Boston. The Boston Tea Party Museum commemorates the famed rebellious act of the Boston colonists during the march toward independence. Through an interactive tour led by actors in period costumes, you will board replicas of the British ships carrying tea to Boston and participate in the rebellion by dumping tea into the harbor. "No taxation without representation!"
- 8Boston Massacre site, Boston. The site, located at State and Congress Streets, marks the spot where eight British soldiers, under the command of Captain Preston, were involved in a scuffle with the colonists during which they fired upon the rowdy crowd that had surrounded them. Five colonists were killed in the altercation, and the Sons of Liberty used the incident in pro-rebel propaganda that was widely circulated throughout the colonies and was one of the lynchpins that started the War for Independence.
- 10Paul Revere House, Boston. Situated along Boston's Freedom Trail, a three-mile path along which many important buildings and sites of Boston's colonial and Revolutionary War history lie is the home of Paul Revere. Revere was a silversmith of some renown and Revolutionary War notable who famously rode through the streets toward Lexington and Concord on April 18, 1775, shouting "the British are coming!" The home was built circa 1680 and is one of the oldest structures in Boston.
- 11Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord. Walk the same path that the British Regulars took, including the North Bridge, as they marched on Lexington and Concord in 1775. See the statue of Minuteman Daniel Chester French on the other side of the bridge and continue on to the Battle Green where the Minutemen engaged the British forces on April 19, 1775, that launched the Revolutionary War, with the "shot heard around the world."
- 12Bunker Hill Monument, Boston. A 221-foot obelisk has been erected at the site of an early battle between the British and the American rebels. Although it is called the "Bunker Hill Monument," it is located atop Breed's Hill, which is the site of the actual fighting. If you visit the site in June, you can witness the annual firing of muskets to commemorate the event.
- 13Fanueil Hall, Boston. Gifted to the city by Peter Faneuil, a noted Boston merchant, the Hall was built in 1742, and since that time has had a lively history as a marketplace and a place for Bostonians to gather. During colonial times, it was used for protests of grievances against the crown, and in the 19th century acted as a spot for abolitionists to rail against the evils of slavery. Today it remains a lively marketplace, with merchants hawking their goods in a similar fashion to their forebears.
- 14Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II, Plymouth. After you visit Plymouth Rock, head over to this rendition of what life was like for the Pilgrims who established the first English colony in America. "Costumed interpreters" go through the daily tasks that would have occupied the pilgrims as they struggled to make a new home for themselves in this new land. The actors remain in character at all times, lending authenticity to the whole affair. Also, docked at Plymouth Pier is the Mayflower II, a replica of the Mayflower where more costumed actors re-enact the historic voyage and landing.
- 15House of the Seven Gables, Salem. The House of the Seven Gables was constructed in 1668 and ranks among the oldest wood-frame houses in North America. It was the setting of novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1851 classic, "The House of The Seven Gables." The home is a museum today and open to the public as an example of early colonial architecture.
Method 3: In New Hampshire
New Hampshire has a rich history starting with early settlements in Colonial America and progressing through the Industrial Revolution. See opulent mansions and quaint villages where the way of life has been preserved for posterity. Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods. The Mount Washington Hotel is an elegant example of late 19th and early 20th Century architecture. It was built by coal magnate Joseph Stickney between 1900 and 1902 when it opened its doors. Although it has changed hands over the years, the hotel is still in operation and was designated a historic landmark in 1986.
- 1USS Albacore, Portsmouth. The USS Albacore was a research submarine that tested state-of-the-art technology when she was active. The Albacore was retired in 1972 and now sits in a "ditch." in Portsmouth. She is open to the public for self- guided tours through her innards, where you can see what life was like for the 55 submariners who lived aboard her while at sea.