Last week we took a look at the history of Scrabbletown and the grist mill which anchored the community. Now let’s take a gander at some of the other Scrabbletown-era structures that will exist in the historic district.
The Gardiner-Arnold farm, located on Scrabbletown Road, was built in the mid 1800’s and is probably one of the best examples of a farm of this era located in North Kingstown. It was the second home of the South County Museum from the late 1930s until 1977. It is easy to understand why the museum founders chose this site for their home. The farm complex (now broken up into two separate pieces of property) included two barns, a mil house, a large corn crib, a wash house, two farm-related sheds, and the family cemeteries of both the Gardiner family and the Case family, the colonial-era families that first settled on the land at the dawn of the 1700s. The older barn, which is located adjacent to the farmhouse, is known as a bank barn. A typical style of that era, it was built into the side of a hill (or a bank) and the lower level was largely underground. This afforded some insulation from the bitter cold of winter to the livestock which were housed therein. The larger barn, which is located across Scrabbletown Road, is a magnificent example of a late 19th century gambrel-roofed barn and is a picture-perfect example of what we all think of when conjuring up an image of an old-fashioned farm. The scene is completed by sight and sound of a small tributary to the Scrabbletown Brook, which flows through the farm and provided water for many of the 18th and 19th century cows in its day.
Across the street from the Scrabbletown Road – Stony Lane intersection sits the bank barn of the Charles Kendrick farmhouse. This barn, built around 1890, was wonderfully restored two decades ago.
Just down the hill from the Scrabbletown Road – Stony Lane intersection is the western part of Pleasant Valley Road, which was cut off from its eastern part by the interloper we call Route 4. Dug into the hill on the corner of the road is a cellar hole, which is all that remains of the Spencer Tavern. The tavern was one of the places where the stagecoach stopped on its way to New York from Boston. I’m sure many a farmer also wet his dusty whistle here during its many decades of service to the Scrabbletown community. Also found on Pleasant Valley Road is the remains of the hart of Scrabbletown – the grist mill. It is located just behind the former location of the Alfred Jones house, a handsome gable-roofed home built in 1880 and demolished, sadly, to allow for the construction of Delano Drive.
With that we have come full-circle; our tour of historic Scrabbletown begins and ends with the mill, which is only appropriate, as that is also how the community lived, prospered and perished. The fate of the mill was the fate of its village, as was the case all over New England at the beginning of the age of machines.