Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
These sites, which are associated with the founding of Rhode Island in 1636 by Roger Williams and a group of dissenters from the strict religious practices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, commemorate the struggle for freedom of conscience in colonial America. The group founded the settlement of Providence near a fresh spring at the junction of the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers, at the base of a hill. The colony was a refuge for persecuted religious groups and freedom seekers. As the colony grew, the spring provided inadequate water. In 1869, it was walled up and replaced by a pump. In 1892, the site was filled in to accommodate urban development, but in 1930 a private citizen bought it and donated it to the city, which created a small memorial park. Roger Williams' house was destroyed by fire during King Philip's War, in 1673. Excavation of the site in 1906 revealed some hearthstones, evidences of a fireplace and a wall, and a jamb. A new commercial building has since been erected on the site. It is unfortunate that no structure or site with integrity associated with the life and work of so out standing a leader as Roger Williams is extant.
On October 22, 1965, the President signed the act of Congress authorizing the establishment of Roger Williams National Memorial, to consist of not more than 5 acres at the Spring Site.
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005