Local History

The Hearthside

In 1810, Stephen Hopkins Smith set his heart on marrying the daughter of a prominent Providence family. She told him she had her heart set on "marrying well" and expected to live in the grandest house around.

When Smith won $50,000 in the Louisiana lottery, hoping the young woman would reconsider, he kept his windfall a secret and began building a dream home. He bought land on Great Road near the Mohassuck River where he proceeded with care and imagination building a magnificent Federal-style home.

One Sunday afternoon, as the story has it, Smith took his buggy to Providence and invited the young woman to take a drive with him. They set out at a leisurely pace, eventually turning onto Great Road. As they crossed the bridge over the Mohassuck, Hearthside came into view. "Oh, what a beautiful house!" the young woman exclaimed -- and Smith's hopes soared. Then she added, "But, I could never live so far out in the wilderness!"

Silently, Smith turned the buggy around and headed back to Providence. He never courted again. But, neither did he become a recluse. He settled his two unmarried sisters in the west side of the house, and his brother, Joseph, and his young family on the east side. He soon tired of the commotion of family life and moved into a house directly across the street.

Smith built the Butterfly Mill, was a major designer of the Blackstone Canal, and created a more enduring legacy through his love of nature and his hobby, botany. On a large tract of his land, he planted exotic shrubs, trees, and built waterfalls and bridges on land all Rhode Islanders today know as Lincoln Woods.

For 40 years, Hearthside has been home to Andrew and Penelope Mowbray. The couple has a happier version of Smith's story. One day, says Andrew, he made the mistake of driving Penelope past Hearthside. "Oh," she said, "What a beautiful house! And look, it's even for sale!"

The above story has been reproduced by permission from the Town Of Lincoln. All rights are reserved.
©2000 Town Of Lincoln, Rhode Island
All Photographs on this page are owned by the Lincoln Public Library. They may not be reproduced without permission. All rights are reserved.
©2000 Lincoln Public Library

The Hearthside was purchased by the Town Of Lincoln in January of 1996 so that the historical home may be preserved and enjoyed by future Lincoln residents. Each holiday season, the Hearthside is open to the public during specified times. Visitors may tour the beautiful house, and see each room lovingly decorated for the Christmas season. Rooms are decorated by local volunteers and community groups. We hope to see you at the Hearthside! 

This is a doll-house size replication of the Hearthside.

 

For more information go to the Hearthside website at: http://www.hearthsidehouse.org/