210916ind history

The Metzi-Ross Guest House, which was once located at 151 West Main Street in Wickford, served as a boarding home from 1947-1978 and was often frequented by members of the Navy staying in Rhode Island for a brief time while training or while searching for new, permanent housing.

In most cases, the most noteworthy events associated with any of the myriad historic homes in Wickford occurred centuries ago. And, although it’s true that the fine home at 151 West Main St., our subject today, built more than 150 years ago, has a long association with the locally prominent Holloway family, it’s really not these ship and house wrights for whom this house is remembered. On the contrary, if I were to ask even an old-timer where the “Widow Susan Holloway” place was, chances are they wouldn’t have a clue; but mention the Metzi-Ross Guest House to that same old-timer and their eyes will light up with memories. You see, from 1947 to 1978, Francis “Frankie” Ross and her sister Oda Metz and their guest house were a part of the scene here in the village.

Frankie and Oda came to Wickford Village as a result of tragic circumstances. Within the span of a few short months, both of the sister’s husbands passed away, leaving them alone. They came to Wickford to be near another sister that already lived here on West Main Street and decided to stay. They purchased the West Main Street home in 1947 and came up with a plan to run a boarding home in it to support themselves. They came up with the name Metzi-Ross because it sounded a lot like Betsy Ross, something that folks would have an easy time remembers; and remember it they did. For more than 30 years, the “No Vacancy” sign was more often than not, hanging out front. The place was utilized not only by a steady stream of tourists who would come year after year and utilize one or more of the five rooms that they rented out, but also by a never ending string of Navy personnel who were here for either a short time for training or stayed at Metzi-Ross while they searched for more permanent housing elsewhere.

Oda and Frankie both had their duties to perform. Oda was in charge of what went on inside and the more out-going Frankie, who had a driver’s license, ran around town as need be. Both women were actively involved in the goings-on at the First Baptist Church in Wickford and the Order of Eastern Star, a Masonic related women’s organization which met at the Masonic Temple on Ten Rod Road.

Things at the Metzi-Ross Guest House came to an end in 1978, with the massive scale down of personnel at Quonset/Davisville and the death of Oda Metz the year before. Frankie stayed in town until she passed away in March of 1986. Both women were buried out of state back with their respective husbands. They were fixtures here in Wickford, and sometimes as I walk by their old home, I can almost see them sitting there on the front porch whiling away the hours as they wait for another guest to arrive.

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

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