Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walkabout on Benefit Street

The Stephen Hopkins House. Elected governor of the state of Rhode Island ten times and a shipbuilder and merchant, Hopkins (1707-1785) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, putting his head squarely on the chopping block, as it were. But he emerged unscathed from that conflict. He lived in this house from the time it was built in 1743 down the hill on South Main Street  to his death in 1785. It was moved to this location on Hopkins Street just at the corner of Benefit in 1927. Naturally George Washington slept here. . .

Hopkins is buried in the Old North Burying Ground on North Main Street. In death and in life his destiny was tied to Main Street.


Walking along Benefit street I came across this curious memorial set down in the middle of a small yard, all fenced in. It reads: "Elder Pardon Tillinghast born near Beachy Head Sussex England 1622 emigrated to America and to Providence 19th of 11th month 1643. Died in Providence Jan. 13 1713 aged 96."

According to one source, this is in fact the original Tillinghast family burial ground.



Next to the Tillinghast memorial marker (and family cemetery?) is the Barker Playhouse. According to the plaque:

"Described by the Providence Preservation society as 'the simplest and most severe Greek Revival Church' in Providence, this building of cement stucco over rough stone was erect din 1840 as St. Stephen's Church (Episcopal) with a steeple, pipe organ and 82 pews. St. Stephen's moved to 114 George Street in 1862, and was succeeded here by the Church of the Savior (Episcopal). In 1932, the church building, and a small city school, later a Portuguese men's club, behind it were purchased by the Barker Foundation under a bequest from Henry A. Barker (1868-1929) for THE PLAYERS, a theater club he helped form in 1909 from two older ones."

Down Transit Street and just off of Benefit is the Daniel Pierce House. Built in 1781 it was converted in 185o into the Lightning Splitter House.



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