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Coventry Roots: Washington

The fourteenth village in our series is the village of Washington. The village is located along the Flat River in the eastern section of Coventry.

The village of Washington was established in the 17th century, burned down during the King Phillip’s War (1675-1676), and then named Braytontown in the 18th century after the Brayton Family who settled there. It wasn’t until 1810, when the Washington Manufacturing Company was established, that the name was changed to Washington.

The Brayton family resided in what is known today as the Paine House. The Paine House is the oldest surviving building in the village of Washington and was once a Tavern. This house was built in 1748 by Francis Brayton. Today the Paine House is home to the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society.

Some of the mill houses from the Washington Manufacturing Company still stand today but the last mill was demolished in 1935.

The area of Station Street where the bike path is today was once home to the train depot, round house, engine house, and freight house for the Hartford, Providence, and Fishkill Railroad.  

The Spencer Marble Works, which was located in the village of Washington, was operated by Oren Spencer. From 1850 to 1878 he was producing gravestones, some of which you can see today in the Colvin Cemetery #54 located on Colvintown Road. ()

After his death in 1878 his son, Harvey L. Spencer, continued operating the Spencer Marble Works located near the railroad station on Station Street.  The business became the Richmond Marble Works by 1895. 

Stephen Richmond, owner of the Richmond Marble Works, was a local gravestone carver. He resided in a Victorian style house at 4 Francis Street in the village of Washington that was built around 1880.

Calvin Hopkins, who was from West Greenwich, moved to the village of Washington around 1880 and opened a Blacksmith Shop. The Blacksmith Shop still stands today in its original location at 137 South Main Street. The business became an automobile repair shop after the need for a village smithy was no longer needed.

In 1881 it was decided to construct a new Town House in a more centralized location and the village of Washington was chosen. As a result of this, Washington became known as the center of Coventry.  Like the villages of Quidneck and Anthony, Washington lost its individual identity with the widening of Flat River Road. 

Jim September 10, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Very interesting and insightful, as usual. I never knew about the old train depot, too bad nothing remains of that. Is there a family connection to the former Brayton mill (foundry) which was in the Clyde section of West Warwick?

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