220825ind history

This home located at 83 West Main Street in Wickford was once purchased and owned by Horace Hammond, a noted local business man who in the early 20th century helped shape the modern look of Wickford by helping the construction of several of the area’s most notable buildings.

No one who was alive in 1913 would dispute the fact that old Horace Hammond, who died in March of that year, had left an indelible mark upon the community. For certain, they’d all admit, numerous Hammond’s could lay claim to that statement; why, Hammonds have had an influence upon North Kingstown since the very beginning. But none of them had done it quite like Horace.

Horace Hammond was born some 78 years earlier in 1834 to Cranston and Eunice Hammond of Wickford. As a young man he was sent off to Providence to apprentice with a prominent carpenter named John Pitts. After a decade or so of working and living in the capitol city, part of that time with his young wife Eunice (Slocum), he came back to Wickford and set up shop as it were. Shortly after returning to the village, he purchased a home on West Main Street (now 83 West Main) and began to leave his mark on the community.

His first big job was as the lead carpenter on the construction of the Chapin Bobbin Works at the corner of Brown and Boston Neck Road. This building now houses the Kayak Center and Gold Lady Jewelry among other things. After completing that, he performed the same function on the construction of the impressive mill building at Belleville (destroyed in a horrific fire in the early 1960s.). He and Eunice also had a son named Edgar born to them during this timeframe. Sadly Edgar did not live to see his third birthday and even sadder still Horace and Eunice never had another child of their own. They did however, become the legal guardians of young Henry L. Morse, the son of local saloon keeper William Morse and his wife Octavia (Smith) after their family fell apart. So with a son of sorts in Henry, the Hammond family got along just fine.

Horace then went on to build the Wickford National Bank Building (the former home of the Standard Times and current home of Midnight Sun) after its original office was destroyed by fire. His ward, young Henry made his adoptive parents proud by being a whiz at school, eventually becoming a successful bookkeeper and marrying Hattie Belle, the daughter of Wickford Junction shopkeeper Almond E. Huling. Around this time Horace Hammond, a man who was so successful at his craft that he actually had purchased a large orange grove as an investment down in Eustis Florida, began the job that would define him for the rest of the citizenry of Wickford.

If Horace was an artist with wood and nails, well then the grand steeple, bell and clock tower he constructed for Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church on Main Street was his masterpiece. He indeed, felt so connected to the steeple that he continued to maintain and repair it as long as he was able. Horace’s life went along in a predictable fashion, filled with work and family, until 1910 when he lost his life partner Eunice. Folks remarked that he just wasn’t the same after that and three years later, while on a trip to Eustis to visit his orange groves there, he passed away.

He was carried past that extraordinary steeple for the last time by the folks that knew him best; the town blacksmith, a couple of fellow carpenters, a stone mason he worked with often, and a very appreciative Providence bookkeeper named Henry. No one back at the beginning of the last century had any problem remembering Horace Hammond; all one had to do was look around, his legacy was everywhere. Now, we in the next century can be reminded of him as well; each and every time we pass by one of his remarkable creations.

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

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.