Summoning native Rhode Islanders
November 13, 2013 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Help me locate this historic home /museum in the Fall River area of Rhode Island near or across the border in Massachusetts. (No Lovecraft jokes required.)

The house was very old (seventeenth or early eighteenth century) and rustic in appearance, not a "stately home." It is now a museum, and had been restored/decorated so that each floor represented a different century: the ground floor or basement (with a very low ceiling) was seventeenth or early eighteenth century, the kitchen and scullery were eighteenth century, the floor above was early nineteenth (Federal) and the floor above that was mid-nineteenth (Civil War era, Victorian). The sense of historical change and increasing material comfort was apparent. The Victorian-era bedroom had tapestries with a strawberry-pink floral or fruit motif.

Nearby was a maritime-themed museum occupying a converted barn.

I don't live in New England. We were staying with friends for a day and my sense of geography was totally befuddled by winding, non-Euclidean country roads. I also didn't have a chance to pick up any pamphlets at the museums. Rhode Island and southern MA have so many historic sites that my Google-fu is confused.
posted by bad grammar to Travel & Transportation around Rhode Island (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Mount Hope Farm in Bristol, RI?

Also Fall River is in MA not RI.
posted by snarfles at 5:36 PM on November 13, 2013

Here's a list of museums in RI, maybe one of the photos will jog your memory?
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:47 PM on November 13, 2013

The Lizzie Borden house is in Fall River, but does not sound like what you are looking for.
posted by vrakatar at 5:57 PM on November 13, 2013

Did the museum have the scale model of the Titanic used in the 1953 film? If so, it was Fall River's Marine Museum
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:26 PM on November 13, 2013

Or this? It sure looks barn-ish...
posted by vrakatar at 6:27 PM on November 13, 2013

(this is going to drive me even nuttier.) Do you remember what town your friends lived/live in?
posted by vrakatar at 6:29 PM on November 13, 2013

The Martin House Farm hits some, but not all, of your criteria.
posted by jessamyn at 6:32 PM on November 13, 2013

Bristol, RI is lousy with historic houses and very close to Fall River. I think we can rule out the Newport area.
posted by vrakatar at 6:43 PM on November 13, 2013

The Paine House Museum claims to be split into two centuries, Colonial and Victorian, and might be it.
posted by jessamyn at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2013

It's not Coggeshall Farm, is it? That's got a working farm so definitely "rustic" but I haven't been there since like 1993 so I don't know about the house.

Good luck -- if you find the answer on your own, please let us know; this sounds pretty cool.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:56 PM on November 13, 2013

Or could it be the Brown House at Slater Mill? The description from the website says:
The Brown house is furnished as an early 19th century artisan’s home and is used to draw contrasts and parallels between life in the early 19th century and life and work after the industrial revolution. With the demonstration of hand spinning and weaving with flax and wool, the house demonstrates the shift from pre-industrial production of textiles to industrial manufacturing.

The Sylvanus Brown House was built in 1758 and moved to its present location in 1971. Sylvanus Brown was a woodworker, pattern maker (of wood patterns from which machinery were cast), a millwright and dam builder. He occupied the house between 1784 and 1824 and made patterns for Samuel Slater’s early textile machines. Slater is reputed to have spent his first night in Pawtucket in Sylvanus Brown’s House.
Okay, I'm done naming field trips I took in elementary school, but that does seem like a good possibility.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:59 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow Mrs. P-dactyl, I grew up near worc, MA and I know I went on a field trip to a place that did just this sort of "observe the increasing standard of living" type exhibit. However in this case I am 80% sure that was in Lowell. Slater's (sic) Mills does ring an old bell though.
posted by vrakatar at 7:23 PM on November 13, 2013

bad grammar, can you tell us when you first went there? It's not out of the question that they have reinterpreted the place and don't do the multiple time periods any more.
posted by Miko at 9:42 PM on November 13, 2013

Response by poster: I visited several years ago. The friends live in Providence, so that isn't a tremendous help, but they have a summer place near Bristol. I remember the museum house as somewhat like the Rhode Island "stone ender" type house in appearance, but the ones I can find don't look the same (there are not enough interior photos of these).

The adjoining museum was a naval museum only because it featured local history, being near the coast, so it wasn't the naval museums linked to above. It was rather low-budget in appearance.
posted by bad grammar at 6:55 PM on November 14, 2013

I have begun taking this very seriously so I asked my awesome step-cousin who has experience researching and working in small New England museums. Here are her responses:


interesting challenge!!!

Can you find out if this was the marine museum:

if not, was it WWII themed?

that would narrow it down considerably.


Okay- I kept looking. My guess is that they were in Bristol, not Fall River, as there are only two maritime museums in the area and the one in Fall River isn't exactly in a converted barn. Also it specializes in WWII battleships which I feel like would have had a mention. Based on this theory, my guess is that they were in Bristol and went here:

If not, possibly here:

or here:

If not, it would be useful to know what era the maritime museum was, and how rural the house was.

Hope this helps!!!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:42 AM on November 15, 2013

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