Tucked away on Baker Street in Warren, this charming little building is now home to the Federal Blues, a “militia” who was founded in 1798, and now serves as a group of men and women who march in parades in Revolutionary era uniforms with rifles and drums. This building was actually the barn for the Baker-Merchant-Dewolf House and was built in 1860 to house the owners horses and carriage. The barn was located behind the home and was moved in 1990 to safety after the nearby church wanted to demolish it for its parking lot.
Located on Baker Street in Warren, RI, and next door to the similarly restored Federal Blues Building, the former Narragansett Engine Company Firehouse stands out as one of the most unique buildings in town. Constructed in 1846, the flushboarded two-story building features corner pilasters leading to a pedimented gable end roof. At the second floor tripartite rounded arch windows somewhat resembling a Palladian window are centered, providing an early victorian flair to the building. The structure was restored in the 1970s and now is home to the Warren Fire Museum which houses memorabilia and equipment from as early as 1802, when the Department was formed including helmets, leather fire buckets, uniforms, insignia, and photographs.. The museum even has two restored engines, “Little Button” and “Little Hero”.
This large mill complex on Main Street in Warren was built by the Warren Manufacturing Company in 1896. Due to a fire in 1895 destroying all three of the original mill buildings of the Warren Manufacturing Company’s built in 1847, 1860, and 1872. These five-story buildings, containing a total of 58,000 spindles, totally dominated the north end of Warren. Only the handsome Italianate stair tower survived. It rises today from the middle of the new mill complex which was rebuilt in 1896 and enlarged in 1902 and 1907. The current mills were designed by architect Frank P. Sheldon, a Rhode Island mill engineer and designer. The Warren Mfg Co. continued in operation here until July of 1930, when President William Grosvenor gave control to a bank. In April 1934, the Warren Textile and Machinery Supply Co. purchased the mill to be used as a machine shop and for the manufacture of reeds, roll coverings, and curtains; employment was between 300 and 500. It was later occupied by the American Tourister Company and has since been restored and converted to apartments.
Built in 1916, this two-story former theater just off Main Street in Warren, RI evokes the recent memory of small motion picture theaters in cities and towns all over the region. The theater originally featured a large marquee and more muted colors on the exterior. After WWII, as with smaller theaters all over the country, this cinema struggled against the larger chains which featured 10+ screens and modern amenities, and ticket sales dwindled. The theater was sold in the late 1970s and converted to retail use. Since the 1990s, the building was occupied by the Imagine Gift Shop.
A castle in Rhode Island! Well not quite. At the conclusion of the Dorr Rebellion, where a mini Civil War in the state occurred, the State of Rhode Island gave the Warren Artillery Company $1500 for their loyal support during the conflict for the construction of an armory. Architect Russell Warren was reported to have designed Armory Hall, which is a one-story gable roof, Gothic Revival structure with two hexagonal castellated turrets. The building’s two turrets stand on either side of large arched front doors and were designed to house two Revolutionary War cannon. These cannon, named Pallas and Tantae, were built in Strasbourg, France in 1862 and were also given to the Warren Artillery Company for their support during the Dorr’s Rebellion. During the American Civil War, the Warren Artillery Company served with the Ninth Regiment of Rhode Island.
By WWI, the Artillery Company effectively disbanded and Armory Hall was rarely used. After WWII, with large numbers of returning veterans, the American Legion Post in Warren purchased the building for just $10! Over the years the crenellations on the two turrets deteriorated and were removed. Since 2012, a group has been restoring the historic armory back to its former glory to be used for functions and events.
One of the best-preserved commercial structures in the state of Rhode Island has to be at 146 Water Street in Warren. Built in about 1880, the Late Victorian-Stick style building was originally home to a local dry-goods store. The two-story symmetrical building features three bays with a central, recessed entry, round arched windows, brackets, and a decorative parapet with a segmental arch. The building was used by award-winning author and illustrator, David Macaulay as his studio for many years.
Located at 405 Water Street in Warren, RI, this two-story rubblestone structure is a lasting remnant of the industrial past of the quiet town. Originally constructed as a forge, the stone walls are about two feet thick. After the Civil War, the building was purchased by Francis Marble, who lived on nearby Washington Street. Marble converted the second floor to a meeting hall for seamen to drink and dine when home from months at sea.
The Maxwell House was built between in 1743 by the Reverend Samuel Maxwell. The house, which is the oldest brick dwelling in Warren, is distinguished by the distinctive Flemish bond pattern of the brickwork, its field stone foundation, and its large central chimney. Maxwell was born in Boston and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1732 and settled in Newport. He later moved to Warren and had this house built at the corner of Church and Water Streets. His eldest son, James, appears to have been willed the home after Rev. Maxwell’s death. James Maxwell was a sea captain and slave trader in the Triangle Trade and reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in Warren (he later built homes as wedding gifts to his daughters). James Maxwell likely gained much of his wealth by participating in the sale of slaves including some who had been listed as being aboard his own schooler Abigail, where in 1790, the Captain Charles Collins, purchased 64 slaves on the coast of Africa and brought 53 back alive. The Maxwell House is owned by The Massasoit Historical Association and is maintained as a working museum.
St. Mark’s Church in Warren, RI was architect Russell Warren’s second essay in the Greek Revival style, following Providence’s Westminster Arcade he designed earlier that year. The congregation originally met in a local hotel before they gathered enough money to purchase a lot in town and hire Mr. Warren to design the modest church.The modest one-story church originally was designed with a square parapet and belfry, but they were destroyed during the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. The church building on Lyndon Street was occupied by the parish until 2010 when they merged with the Episcopal Church in nearby Barrington, St. Matthews. The property was later purchased by developers from the Archdiocese of Rhode Island in 2013 who eyed the large lot as an investment. The developers claimed that the front portico had no function and would be demolished and the remainder of the building would be altered. Past partitioners and local preservationists stood up and the building was purchased again by a local businessman who restored the exterior and appropriately renovated the former church. The smooth flushboard siding, paired entrances, tetrastyle ionic portico, and large arched windows all work together to create a gorgeous composition of the Greek Revival style.
One of the most charming homes in Warren is the Captain Cranston House, built in 1783. Captain Benjamin Cranston (1754-1823) served on multiple ships during the Revolutionary War and lived in his family home until after the conclusion of the War. He built this small gambrel home around 1783, the same year as his son was born. The family home was occupied by the Cranston’s until Mary, Benjamin’s widow died in the house in 1848 at the age of 92! The house is a modest three-bay home with an off-center chimney.