means "Little Falls" in the native language, and this area was
occupied by the members of the Sononoce Pawtuxet tribe, part of the
Indian nation, who used the area we know as Pawtuxet Neck as a feasting
ground. In 1638, Rhode
Island founder, Roger
Williams, purchased the property extending south from
to the Pawtuxet River. Shortly thereafter his followers; William
Harris, William Carpenter, and Zachariah Rhodes, settled along the
meadows of the Pawtuxet. Meanwhile, Samuel
Gorton, the founder of Warwick, purchased the land south of the
Pawtuxet River. Pawtuxet Village remains unique in that its
section is in the town of Cranston,
while its southern section is in another town, Warwick.
Early 18th century inhabitants took advantage of the power of the Pawtuxet River by constructing various mills, and took advantage of its excellent harbor by building one of America's premiere shipping ports. The Pawtuxet Village Historic District boasts dozens of preserved Colonial structures among its scenic blend of homes and buildings. The mouth of the Pawtuxet River was a strategic location to settle, and gave boats a safe harbor and the village considerable importance in the triangular trade of the day, and shipyards for the coastal and West Indies trade were located here.It was here in 1772 where Rhode Island patriots took the first organized military action towards independence by attacking and burning the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee. This was "America's First Blow for Freedom" that led directly to the establishment of permanent Committees of Correspondence, unifying the individual colonies, and starting the process of the American Revolution. We celebrate this historic role of Pawtuxet Village by playing host to the annual Gaspee Days Parade each June.
During the early 1800s Christopher and William
Rhodes formed the
textile manufacturing firm which controlled the prosperity and swayed
the destiny of Pawtuxet for more than half a century. It changed from a
shipping port to a mill village with textile mills at either end of the
Falls. In the late 19th century, the Rhodes family developed one
top attractions, the famous Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet casino, dance hall,
and canoe center. Trolley lines from Providence would carry vast
numbers to the Pawtuxet area for a day of family fun and relaxation.
merchants prospered, and to this day, Pawtuxet Village remains a
focal point in the lives of the surrounding population.
Experience the essence of Colonial Rhode Island by visiting
Pawtuxet Village, one of New England's oldest villages.
|Avove: Pawtuxet Harbor, 1805, pen and Ink by Dwight Miller. Scanned image on transparent background taken from 150 Years of Harmony by Milton R. MacIntosh, a 1955 book on the history of the Harmony Masonic Lodge located in Pawtuxet Village. All attempts to contact the illustrator of this book, Dwight Miller, were unsuccessful.|