210603ind Cranston

Over the course of 219 years, this home, located at 103 West Main Street in North Kingstown, has passed through the hands of several well-known and historic local owners. It was built in 1802 by William Holloway Jr. on a lot purchased by Mary Updike and has been owned by Dr. John Machata for the last 24 years.

The house located at 103 West Main Street in North Kingstown — the first built after the 1802 platting of the area by Lodowick Updike — was constructed by house and ship wright William Holloway Jr. on a lot he purchased from Mary Updike. The earliest descriptions of the property indicate that it included a “cooper’s shop,” a feature which was identified in 1809 when Holloway sold the parcel to the Honorable Daniel Champlin. There is no indication that William Jr. was trained as a cooper or barrel maker, so it must have been either rented out or utilized by a yet-identified Holloway relation. Holloway seemingly sold the house as soon as his new house, located just west of this one, was completed.

Daniel Champlin, a well-known and respected Exeter farmer and judge, lived on a large farm in the Yawgoog Valley section of that community. He purchased the house as a gift for his son Benjamin Champlin, who was a Major of the 8th Regiment of the Washington County troops of the Rhode Island State Militia. Benjamin married Maria Hammond, daughter of William & Alice (Tillinghast) Hammond, and after their marriage, Maria moved into this home with her new husband. Sadly, their time together was short, as Benjamin Champlin died in September 1814 at the age of 25. Maria left the house after his death and never remarried, living first with her parents and then spending the remainder of her days living with her sister Lydia, the widow of Jabez Bullock, in her Brown Street home. Daniel Champlin re-assumed ownership of this house after his son’s tragic death, and eventually sold it, in 1819, to Christopher and Sarah (Congdon) Allen. Benjamin Champlin was posthumously given the honorary rank of Colonel and is buried with Maria in the Jabez Bullock plot in Elm Grove Cemetery.

Christopher Allen identified himself as a farmer throughout his life. The land that he and his brother Charles — who was married to Mary Congdon, sister of Christopher’s wife Sarah — farmed was the Homestead Farm at Cocumscussoc, now known commonly as Smith’s Castle, which their wives’ father Benjamin Congdon had purchased from Wilkins Updike in December 1812 and left to his children upon his death in 1816. Wilkins Updike had, however, included a life tenancy, along with the property, for Abigail Updike. As Abigail lived in the Castle until her death in 1824, there was no place for Christopher and Sarah to live at Cocumscussoc until Abigail’s demise. Soon after that occurred, Christopher and Sarah Allen sold this home to Charles and Mary and presumably moved into Smith’s Castle at Cocumscussoc. Charles and Mary Allen stayed at the house until February 1840, when they moved to the Allen Homestead Farm in Allenton. Charles and Mary Allen then sold the house to popular local educator Francis Chappell.

Francis Chappell and his wife Bathsheba (Slocum) came to Wickford in 1815 to teach at the then-renowned Washington Academy. He stayed on teaching in the same building after the Academy closed, working for combined school districts 3 & 4 of the North Kingstown District school system. Francis retired from teaching finally in 1858 after a career of 43 years and passed away in 1860. Bathsheba died in 1861 and this house passed down to their unmarried daughter Mary Jane Chappell.  Mary Jane supported herself largely by taking in borders, many of whom were relatives. In the 1860s, she lived with her brother Gardner, who worked as a jeweler at the locket factory in the village, and another locket factory employee, Jedediah Fuller and his family. In the 1870s, she rented half the house out to her sister and brother-in-law James and Rhoda (Chappell) Eldred and their daughter Hannah. James Eldred previously had not only owned the locket factory that employed so many Wickford residents before the Civil War, but also lived in the fine home “The Oaklands” off of what is now Boston Neck Road with his family. Also living here in the 1870s was Mary Jane’s other sister Esther, who was the widow of Esbon Sanford. James Eldred also employed a live-in servant, Christina White, who lived here with her 6-year-old daughter Cornelia. Christina White, a freed slave from Virginia, would shortly marry Jim Chase, another freed slave from Maryland, and Jim would adopt Christina’s daughter “Nellie” who was purported to have been fathered by her mother’s former master. Mary Jane Chappell died in 1874 and the house became the property of James and Rhoda Eldred, who continued to live here with Esther. Hannah Eldred married the Reverend Daniel Goodwin, the priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and was living in the rectory located across the street from her childhood home “The Oaklands.” James and Rhoda also rented rooms to James Thomas, a local store clerk, and his wife, Eliza. Sadly, Hannah (Eldred) Goodwin died suddenly in 1877, and James Eldred passed away in 1883. Rhoda continued in the house for a time, but in 1886 sold it to her former son-in-law, Rev. Daniel Goodwin who had retired from his final church pastorate at St. Luke’s in East Greenwich.

Daniel Goodwin, who came to Wickford from Bangor, Maine in 1869, was beloved in both the communities of Wickford and East Greenwich.  Goodwin, who only served in the village for five years, was instrumental in the construction of the Church’s signature bell and clock tower, the enlargement of the chapel, the reconfiguration of the interior of the Church, and the initiation of the project to have the simple frosted glass windows of St. Paul’s replaced with the extraordinary stained glass memorial windows extant today. Goodwin was well-known as a Church historian and eventually edited, revised and corrected The History of the Episcopal Church of Narragansett, Rhode Island, written originally in 1847 by Wilkins Updike. In 1919, an ailing Daniel Goodwin sold his retirement home to John Maglone. He passed away two years later and is buried in the cemetery at St. Luke’s Church in East Greenwich. His beloved Hannah rests eternal in her parents’ plot at Elm Grove in North Kingstown.

Both John Maglone and the house’s next owner Joseph W. Greene seemed to have purchased it speculatively, as neither one owned it for even a full year. In 1921, Greene sold the home to Frank A. Peckham. Frank Peckham was born in Newport in 1860 and spent his working life in retail, working first in Newport at a hardware store, then at the Sheppard Company in Providence, and then as a buyer for two different retailers in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1898, he took his savings and purchased the long-running Wickford business, the A. M. Thomas Dry Goods Store, and ran it as Peckham’s Dry Goods. He ran this business for nearly 50 years, rarely missing a day of work until just a few months before his death. He was married to Sarah McNamara, also of Newport, and had two sons, Harold and Frank, and two daughters, Marion and Gertrude. Frank Peckham was very active at St. Paul’s Church serving as Treasurer, then Jr. and Sr. Wardens.  He died in February of 1947. The house stayed in the Peckham family through Sarah’s life, eventually becoming the property of son Harold Peckham who was a WWI veteran and longtime employee of a Texas-based oil company. When Harold died in 1976, the house became the property of his unmarried sister Marion who sold it to molecular biologist and Brown University professor Richard Ellis. Ellis who lived immediately west of this house in 115 West Main Street, used it as a rental property. In 1997 it was sold to its present owner Doctor John Machata. 

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

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