“Hey Bonnie Hall” // 1808-1944

Formerly located on the Poppasquash Peninsula in Bristol, Rhode Island, the William DeWolfe House, also known as Hey Bonnie Hall, was constructed in 1808 for William DeWolf (1762-1829) and his wife Charlotte Finney (1764-1829). William DeWolf was a member of the infamous DeWolf Family of Rhode Island, which is believed to have transported tens of thousands of enslaved people to the United States and Caribbean before the African slave trade was banned in Rhode Island. The Ocean State played a leading role in the transatlantic slave trade. Not only did Rhode Islanders have slaves—they had more per capita than any other New England state. The beauty of Hey Bonnie Hall, and its melodic name hid the dirty money with which it was built. With his extreme wealth, William hired Providence architect Russell Warren to construct the home in a high form of the Federal style. Eventually, the home was willed to Anna DeWolf, who married Nathaniel Russell Middleton, from a slave-owning family in Charleston, South Carolina (birds of a feather…). It was Anna Middleton who gave the house its curious name of “Hey Bonnie Hall”. When she was younger, she used to sing an old Scottish song called “Hey The Bonny Breast Knots” over and over again to delight her grandfather, William, the first owner of this home. After Anna’s death, the home was willed to her two unmarried daughters. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 proved fatal for the grand estate, when the front portico was ripped off the home and flew away. The damage was deemed too expensive to repair and the home was demolished that year.

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