R 40
97- S 165
Passed in Senate
Jan. 22, 1997

S E N A T E    R E S O L U T I O N


WHEREAS, The Town of Warren lies at a strategic halfway point between modern Providence and Newport, enjoys a deep river channel, and is easily accessible by both land and waters; and

WHEREAS, In July, 1621 Governor Bradford of Plymouth sent Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins to visit the Sachem Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoags and ruler of "Pokanoket" including all of the land from Plymouth west to Narragansett Bay. Massasoit sought the friendship of the English in an attempt to strengthen his position against the powerful Narragansett tribe living on the west side of Narragansett Bay. By 1632, an English trading post had been established on the west bank of the Kickemuit, now part of East Warren. In 1653, Massasoit sold a large section of "Pokanoket" to "certain worthy gentlemen" for thirty-five pounds sterling including the "Sowams Lands" which were incorporated by the Court of Plymouth as the Town of Swansea, Massachusetts in 1667 including the present towns of Warren and Barrington, Rhode Island and Somerset, Massachusetts; and

WHEREAS, Warren became a town in 1746. After a dispute dating from 1664, Rhode Island gained Attleborough Gore, Little Compton, Tiverton, Bristol, part of Barrington, and Swansea from Massachusetts. By royal decree, "Swansea and Barrington, with a small part of Rehoboth" evolved into a new town called Warren honoring the Naval hero of Louisburg, Sir Peter Warren (Barrington remained a part of Warren until 1770). Incorporated on January 27, 1747, the first town meeting was held on February 10, 1747, and the first census of 1748 lists the total population of Warren at 380; and

WHEREAS, The early development of Warren is typical of Rhode Island seaport communities. Shipwrights, carpenters, coopers, and merchants from Swansea, attracted by the deep river, settled along the old Indian trail or "highway" to Bristol. "Ways" were then cut out of this Main Street spine to the waterfront; and

WHEREAS, By the beginning of the American Revolution, Warren was a prosperous maritime community with some agricultural development in the outlying areas. For a community almost completely dependent upon maritime commerce, the opening of the American Revolution threatened ruin. Warren's William Turner Miller was appointed lieutenant colonel of the first regiment raised in Newport and Bristol Counties to prepare for war after the Battle of Lexington; and

WHEREAS, The British occupation of Newport in December, 1776, caused many of that town's inhabitants to seek refuge on the mainland, including Governor Josias Lyndon who later died in Warren during a smallpox epidemic early in 1778. May 25, 1778 witnessed the disastrous British raid on Warren. Five hundred British and Hessian troops, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, burned the Baptist Meeting House and Parsonage on the corner of Main and Miller Streets, blew up the powder magazine across the street, burned seven houses, looted and vandalized homes, and partially destroyed the frigate General Stark; and

WHEREAS, Following the destruction incurred during the Revolution, Warren recovered rapidly and re-emerged as a prosperous maritime community. The merchant service, trade with the West Indies and Africa, freighting, and the coastal packet trade all flourished. Shipbuilding remained for many years the major industry of Warren, second only to Providence as Rhode Island's shipbuilding center. Allied industries included sail-making, coopering, iron-moulding, and blacksmithing; and

WHEREAS, Whaling, begun in Warren before the Revolution, was revived in 1821, and lasted for nearly forty years with many merchantmen converting to the whaling trade. By 1845, twenty-two whalers, the last of their class in Rhode Island, were setting sail from Warren; and

WHEREAS, It was not until 1847 that the first public high school was built in Warren, although a system of public schools had been initiated in 1828 with an annual appropriation of $325. The Liberty Street School, designed by Thomas A. Tefft, an important Providence architect, was the third public high school in Rhode Island, built four years after those in Providence and Newport; and

WHEREAS, By the middle of the nineteenth century, textile manufacturing had been introduced into Warren. Freighting and the coastal trade had shifted to larger, more convenient ports and, by the start of the Civil War, whaling had become virtually non-existent due to the advent of cheap kerosene and scarcity of whales. The introduction of steam power, pioneered by Samuel Slater in Providence in 1827 accelerated industrialization. In 1847, the Warren Manufacturing Company constructed its first small stone mill on the north end of Water Street to make sheetings and shirtings. Two brick mills were added in 1860 and 1873, forming practically one continuous building. They were the precursors of the textile industry which would dominate Warren's economy well into the twentieth century; and

WHEREAS, Following the Civil War, Warren gradually evolved into a mill town. In 1875, it was the fourth most densely developed town in Rhode Island with 678.8 persons to each square mile, and the Warren Manufacturing Company complex was one of the largest in the state. "Warren goods" included sheetings, shirtings, and jaconets and were known throughout the country for their fine quality; and

WHEREAS, In Warren, the population which had peaked at 3,103 in 1850 steadily declined until 1870. From 1870 to 1875 nearly 1,000 persons were added to the town's population. Irish-born families constituted 50% and French-Canadian families 25% of this influx seeking employment in the mills and the nearby Barrington brick-yards; and

WHEREAS, In 1871, an association for a free reading room and library was formed, opening in Pashal Allen's store on the northeast corner of Main and Market Street. By 1877, the corporate name became the Warren Public Library and raised funds and received enough bequests to build a new library in 1888. North of the Library, the Warren Town Hall, built from 1890-1894, is a handsome example of Late Victorian eclectic architecture which combines an Italian Renaissance tower on a Federal hip-roofed structure with Italianate compound windows; and

WHEREAS, The opening of the twentieth century in Warren witnessed the electrification of the Providence, Warren and Bristol railroad which ran trains every hour. By 1900 growth within the waterfront section had completely stabilized. The Waterman Manufacturing Company continued to operate the great mill complex on North Water Street until 1920; in 1934 Berkshire Associates obtained the complex, as well as the old Parker Mill built in 1899 on Metacom Avenue. By the 1950's, with the loss of the textile industry to the southern states, the Warren Manufacturing Company's great mill complex became the home of the American Tourister Company; and

WHEREAS, Today, Warren blends the best of the past with the modern, as the Waterfront District, an architectural treasury containing over 200 buildings reflecting the town's social, economic and architectural development, coexists with farms and open spaces suitable for conservation and recreation; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby joins the fortunate residents of Warren in celebrating the town's 250th anniversary. Ever a vital part of the history of the Ocean State, Warren can certainly look forward to an even brighter future; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the Catherine King Avila, Chairperson of the Warren 250th Committee Executive Board.

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