191226ind History

The house on 130 Boston Neck Road in North Kingstown was built by Harold Metcalf at a time when many of the most elite in town were building new homes in the area.

Harold Metcalf was born in Providence in 1861 and earned medical degrees from Brown University and Harvard University. After a short stint practicing medicine in Providence he relocated to Wickford and opened a practice here in 1891. For most of that time he rented the old Gregory House on Brown Street, where he both lived and practiced medicine. He and his wife Mary (Barney) raised three sons and daughter while living here. In 1903, after moving out of Governor William Gregory’s former home on Brown Street, he followed many of the town’s elite south over the predecessor to the Hussey Bridge to build a stately home on Boston Neck Road. The house, on the corner of Boston Neck Road and Beach Street, designed by the Providence architectural firm Hilton and Jackson, was built by the locally prominent house carpenters, The Sherman Brothers, and is a two-story symmetrical Colonial Revival style building and includes a matching barn. Shortly after moving into his new home, he purchased one of the town’s first automobiles; presumably to make his rounds of house calls easier. All went well until he returned home and drove through the back wall of his barn. When asked about the problem, tradition has it that he replied that “The horses always knew when to stop.”  Doc Metcalf was also the Chairman of the Town School Committee, Head of the North Kingstown Free Library Board of Trustees, and served as the North Kingstown Medical Examiner for 23 years. He and his wife Mary were also very active at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where Mary was, for more than 30, the president of the Ladies Sewing Circle.  Mary also served on the Boards of St Elizabeth’s Home in Providence and the North Kingstown Visiting Nurse Association. When Doc Metcalf died in 1923, his funeral service at St. Paul’s Church was filled to overflowing, the Town’s schools were closed to honor him and many businesses in the community shuttered their doors in memory of the good doctor had who served the community for 32 years. His wife Mary and his daughter Mary, who remained single throughout her life, stayed on in the home. It was finally sold in 1956, 14 years after the death of Doc Metcalf’s wife, to Fred Jacob III, the owner of the Cranston Molding Company formerly located on Old Baptist Road in North Kingstown. Since 1970, the house has been lovingly maintained by mechanical engineer, wooden boat lover, and all around Jack-of-all-trades David Butler.  

The author is the North Kingstown town historian. The views expressed here are his own.

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