Saunderstown Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
Driving out of Providence was not scary; I guess navigating around the larger DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas has prepared me better than I realized for major interstate driving. Driving in town was a bit troublesome though (one way street but wide enough for two lanes but no dividing lines).
Finding my next destination, the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace (prior to planning for this trip I did not know who Gilbert Stuart was; he was a premier portrait painter at the time of George Washington and created several very famous works depicting him along with many other famous people of the period), was harder. It is located on a road that runs between 1 and 1A but I had difficulty locating the road (the sign refers to the Gilbert Stuart Museum not Birthplace, so I thought it was a different museum :P).
The two buildings on display are the grist mill and the home where Gilbert Stuart was born and then lived for the first six years of his life. The tours technically begin on the hour, but the tour I joined had started a few minutes early (last one of the day). They were in the grist mill which still has a working waterwheel. You can look down to the bottom level and see the gears turning. On the main level are some related pictures and tools. The tour guide gave an explanation of how the facility worked; what I caught was clear and informative like all her descriptions as we explored the home.
Next door is the home which also has a working waterwheel although this day it was waterlogged and not working. The tour begins on the upstairs in the northeast bedroom which is where the artist was born and then continues through another bedroom and a sitting room. Decorating the walls are several copies of works by Stuart including an unfinished piece that the Washingtons never received; whenever they asked if it was done, he said no because he was using it as a model for all his other portraits of Washington. Although the paintings are only copies, I liked that next to each one was a placard with not just the name of the piece but also its actual location (several were located in the National Gallery in DC).
Downstairs (very tight stairway) we looked at the inside of this waterwheel (was involved in the production of snuff), spinning implements (I was intrigued by a poster detailing the plants or insects used to create different dye colors), and kitchen.
My drive continued down the coast to Narragansett where I located the Towers. In the late 1800's, a hotel was built with gambling tables; the overall complex is called the Casino. The end closest to the water actually arched over the roadway and was flanked by two circular towers. Less than a decade after opening, the building caught on fire (arson) and burned, leaving only the towers. It is possible to park on a side street for free and then just walk along the water here.