King-MacFarlane House // 1845

William Jones King (1803-1885) was born in Providence, Rhode Island as the eldest son of Elijah and Nancy King. His father Elijah was a master-mariner and a wealthy ship-owner, engaging in trade with the West Indies, likely partaking in the transport and sale of humans like many Rhode Island “merchants” at the time. Elijah was travelling to Martinique in 1815, when the Great Gale of 1815, the largest hurricane on record at the time in New England, intercepted the ships and capsized them. Elijah and his crew died at sea. After his father’s untimely death, which left the family poor, William (as the eldest at just 12 years old) became the sole support of his mother and three younger siblings at the time. William eventually became a clerk at the Union Bank in town, moving up the ranks until he became a cotton merchant. He had this home built a few years after his marriage to Lydia Gilbert. The house is an excellent example of a traditional Greek Revival home in the College Hill section of Providence with corner pilasters and central Ionic portico all sited high on a landscaped terrace behind an iron fence. The house is now owned by Brown University and has been renamed MacFarlane House after Walter Kilgore MacFarlane, Jr., a Brown alumnus in the class of 1923. The house today houses the main office of the Classics Department at Brown University.

John Brown IV House // 1752

The John Brown IV House in Swansea was built in 1752 and deed research shows it was built by John Brown IV (1675-1752) the year of his death. John Brown was a member of the prestigious Brown family of Plymouth County MA and Rhode Island (most notably John Brown, the namesake and founder of Brown University). Many members of the Brown family were heavily involved with the trading of slaves, rum, molasses and other goods with the Caribbean island plantations. This home was likely built for John Brown IV’s son, Jeremiah as a gift by his father. The massive Georgian gambrel estate overlooks the Cole River which empties at the Atlantic Ocean just south.