Isaac Hahn

A check signed by Isaac Hahn, his whispy signature on the bottom right corner
A Providence RI, Grocers and Producers Bank check accounted by Isaac Hahn with his signature on the bottom right corner.

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Isaac Hahn was the first person of Jewish faith and heritage elected to public office in Rhode Island. He served one term as a state representative from Providence from 1884 to1886. He is also remembered as the first Jewish textile manufacturer in Rhode Island.

Isaac was born in New York City on April 28, 1845, to Rosalie and Joseph Hahn, who were Jewish immigrants from Austria and Bavaria. The family moved upstate to Albany where he married Rose Stern of Schenectady, New York. Their son, Joseph Jerome Hahn, was born in Albany in 1868. In 1870, the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island where Isaac opened a store at 148 Westminster Street selling a variety of fine clothing and wares. Westminster Street was a hub of merchant activity, and many stores were owned and operated by Jewish people.

Over the next few decades, he invested in manufacturing and became the president of a company that manufactured rubber tubes used for indoor gas lighting. He also established a fabric braiding company that covered the tubes in a fabric shell for durability and strength.

Isaac was a board member of the Congregation of the Sons of Israel and David (founded in 1854), where he helped raise funds and build a new synagogue. He was a member of organizations that assisted the waves of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants to America in the late 1800s.

Isaac Hahn died on March 12, 1909, in Atlantic City, New Jersey while attempting to recover from pneumonia. His Providence house still stands at 125 Moore Street.

Isaac’s memory is enshrined within Roger Williams National Memorial as a small, formal garden at the site where the first government of Providence was founded. Known for generations as Roger Williams Spring Park, today it’s called the Hahn Memorial.
Incorporation document for the Isaac Hahn Land Company
Incorporation document for the Isaac Hahn Land Company

Rhode Island State Archives

19th Century etching of Isaac Hahn
19th Century etching of Isaac Hahn

Providence Journal

Last updated: December 20, 2023

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