Arnold House (1693)

History along the Great Road

Lincoln, Rhode Island

Arnold House is a rare surviving example of a stone-ender, a once-common building type featuring a massive chimney end wall. Built by Eleazer Arnold in 1693, the house features stone work that reflects the origins and skills of the settlers who emigrated from the western part of England. The house is a National Historic Landmark.

Arnold, a landowner with a wife and ten children, secured a license for a “Public House.” Tavern customers were probably served in the great room or hall of the house. The structure has sustained many alterations over the centuries. Tour Arnold House and see evidence of seventeenth-century construction methods, eighteenth-century additions, nineteenth-century graffiti, and the twentieth-century approach to preservation that restored the house to its present appearance.

Plan Your Visit

Location

487 Great Road
Lincoln, R.I. 02865

Days & Hours

Saturday and Sunday
June 1 – October 15

11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Tours on the hour.

Last tour at 4:00 p.m.

Closed most major holidays.

Admission

$8 adults

$7 seniors

$4 students

Free for Historic New England members and Lincoln residents.

Directions

Follow Route 295 to RI-146 South, exit 9. Exit at RI-123, Breakneck Rd. Go east (left) on Breakneck Road for 1.5 miles. The parking area for Arnold House is on the left before the house.

Parking

There is a town-owned parking area west (left) of the Arnold House on Great Road. It is marked with a sign that reads “Gateway Park.”

Contact Information

A Rare Surviving Stone-Ender

The house was built in 1693 by Eleazer Arnold, a prominent Providence man who lived there year-round with his wife Eleanor Smith and ten children.

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  • A Rare Surviving Stone-Ender

    The house was built in 1693 by Eleazer Arnold, a prominent Providence man who lived there year-round with his wife Eleanor Smith and ten children.

  • Great Room

    This is the largest first-floor room, where the family would have spent most of their time.

  • Rear Lean-to

    The house's large size allowed for a separate kitchen or cooking space, unlike many smaller stone-enders, where cooking took place in the great room.

  • Great Chamber

    The fireplace in this room, although large, is very shallow and would not have been used for cooking, just for heating.

  • Garret

    The garret is one of the best places to see the framing and evidence of earlier alterations to the building.

  • Croade Tavern

    In 1931 a nearby historic house, Croade Tavern, was moved to the Arnold House site, where it became the caretaker quarters.

Property Care - Arnold - 2002.dendro - ARN.05222002.Chimney ElevEleazer Arnold Homestead

In 1685 Eleazer Arnold inherited the land on which Arnold House sits from his father Thomas. The area that is now known as Lincoln was originally part of Providence. The original purchasers of the town, including Thomas Arnold, were granted parcels of land in this northern portion of Providence. It was once thought that the house was built soon after Eleazer obtained the land, but dendrochronology has dated the house to 1693. The site he chose to build upon was close to the Great Road, the only road that connected this wilderness to Providence. By the time the house was built, Eleazer had been married Eleanor Smith for more than twenty years. They had ten children; in 1693 their ages ranged from twenty-one to younger than ten.

Eleazer Arnold was a very influential man within the community. He served on the Providence Town Council between 1684 and 1686. He served as a deputy of the General Assembly eight times between the years 1686 and 1715. He was also Justice of the Peace from 1705 to 1709. In 1710 he was granted license for a “Publick House.” Because the house was situated on the Great Road, the only traveled road between Providence and the growing villages between the rivers, it was a logical site for a tavern. Tavern customers were probably served in the great room or hall of the house.

In 1685 the surrounding area was heavily wooded. The house was one of few permanent structures in the area. Removed from the wooded areas were pockets of land along the river valleys which were rich in meadows for grazing livestock. The vast forests such as the nearby Quinsnicket Woods, now Lincoln Woods, were considered valuable hunting spots. The Moshassuck and the much larger Blackstone Rivers were used for fishing, and the numerous ponds and streams were invaluable water sources. The area at the head waters of the Moshassuck River was also found early on to be rich in lime deposits. Lime was quarried and burned at Lime Rock as early as the 1660s.

In this country, houses like Arnold House are known as “stone-enders,” a type that is unique to Rhode Island in the United States. It is a building form that can be traced back to Wales, Sussex, and the western counties of England, where building in stone was the tradition. It is thought that the early colonists of the area built their houses in the styles with which they were most familiar. Arnold House appears to be an adaptation of an English Tudor cottage, including the pilastered stonework of the Elizabethan-style chimney. This stone-end structure was built with local fieldstone and lime mortar, possibly from the nearby Lime Rock deposits.

These early stone-end structures were mostly built prior to 1700. They were typically one-and-a-half stories, containing a single room with a fireplace at one end and a garret above, usually used as a sleeping chamber; a good example is Historic New England’s nearby Clemence-Irons House. Arnold House is quite spacious by contrast; it has two stories, four rooms on the first floor (two heated), two on the second (one heated), and an attic illuminated with a large façade gable.

After Eleazer Arnold’s death, the house passed through generations of his descendants, never leaving the Arnold family until it was given to Historic New England in 1918. These later generations altered the house to suit their needs and changing lifestyles. During much of the nineteenth century, the house was inhabited by women who had been widowed by Arnold men or were unmarried Arnold daughters. The circumstances of the time meant that when women were heads of the house, those periods were more difficult and not as prosperous as when Arnold men were wealthy landowners.

Although industry played an important role in shaping the Blackstone and Moshassuck River Valleys, the Arnolds and their land were not dramatically affected by it. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, they were a well-established family with significant land holdings. At a time when mill villages surrounded them, they retained the integrity of their farmland. They did, however, take advantage of the situations that surrounded them and dabbled in industry. Mentioned throughout the land records that exist for Arnold House are the small business operations of the family over the years. At one point they owned a blacksmith shop and they used the power of the Moshassuck River to run their corn mill and corn distillery. A family member named Preserved Arnold was an investor in a cotton spinning mill in the nearby village of Albion and many generations of Arnolds had rights to the lime and lime kilns in several nearby locations.

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Could not find this in RS

Becoming a Museum

In 1918, when the last generation of Arnold House inhabitants died without children, their great nieces and great nephews gave the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now Historic New England, in memory of Sabra Arnold. At this time, the house and the tiny parcel of land on which it sits were separated from the remainder of the land, which was sold. Also in 1918, Croade Tavern (c. 1700), the last survivor of Joseph Jencks’ original settlement in what is now the downtown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was relocated to the property at the rear of the house for use as a residence.

Two phases of restoration have taken place since 1918. The first phase was overseen by Norman M. Isham, a pioneer of architectural restoration, in 1920. This phase proved to be one of exploration and stabilization of the structure. The second phase of restoration began in 1950. What began as the complete structural rehabilitation of the house and chimney resulted in the restoration of the house to its seventeenth-century appearance. Most of the later alterations to the house were removed, including the rear lean-to, later fireplaces that had been built into the original hearths, brick ovens, and room partitions.

The resulting configuration after years of evolution and restoration is a two-story house with a stone chimney mass occupying most of the west wall and a small later chimney on the east wall. The later alterations that remain include the addition to the second floor that occurred when the roof was raised to allow for the full two stories and the staircase that was part of the rear lean-to.

During the 1950s restoration, several early alterations were replaced with recreations of what was thought to have existed in the seventeenth century. The double-hung sash windows have been replaced by smaller casements with leaded glass panes. The Federal-style paneled front door and door surround were replaced with the batten board door in the house today. Much of the fabric of the house has been reconstructed over the years.

Today Arnold House is open for year-round tours and hosts a popular birthday celebration for President Lincoln, after whom the town was named.

Property FAQs

Find out about accessibility, photography policy, and more.

Learn More
  • Where should I park when visiting Arnold House?

    Parking is located in Gateway Park just west of Arnold House.

  • Is the museum accessible to people with disabilities?

    A tour of any Historic New England property requires a considerable amount of standing and some walking. Folding chairs can be provided for visitors who would like to use them during a tour. Arnold House is not equipped with handicapped accessible ramps, elevators, or chair lifts. Service animals are always welcome. We encourage visitors with concerns to call ahead. We are happy to work with you to make your visit an enjoyable one.

  • What is the building behind Arnold House?

    This building is called Croade Tavern. It was built in Pawtucket on Dexter Street in the late 1700s and was moved to its current location in 1931. This building is now a private residence.

  • When did Historic New England acquire Arnold House?

    Historic New England acquired Arnold House as a gift from the Arnold family in 1918.

  • Who built Arnold House?

    In 1685 Eleazer Arnold (1651-1722) inherited 140 acres of land from his father, Thomas Arnold, and built what is now known as Arnold House in 1693.

  • Are there other historic houses nearby?

    Arnold House is part of the Great Road Historic District in the heart of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. Just east of Arnold House is the Saylesville Friends Meeting House (1703), the oldest continuously used Quaker Meeting House in New England. West of Arnold House are the Moffett Mill (1812); Hearthside (1810), a magnificent Federal-style stone mansion with tenfireplaces; and the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop (1880) at Chase Farm Park (1890).

  • Why is the chimney covered in lime wash?

    Around 2010 the stone end was covered in lime wash, in a process known as galleting and sneck harling. It is believed the house looked this way in 1693. It also helps protect the stone wall and chimney from the weather and reduces moisture in the house.

  • Has Arnold House been restored?

    Arnold House has been restored twice, first shortly after it was acquired by Historic New England. A more extensive restoration took place in the 1950s. The second renovation brought the house back to how it looked in 1693.

  • How do I become a member of Historic New England and get more involved?

    Join Historic New England now and help preserve the region’s heritage. Call 617-994-5910 or join online.

  • Do I need to take a tour or can I just look around?

    All visitors to the house receive a guided tour.

  • Can I take photographs in the museum?

    Interior and exterior photography for personal use is allowed at Historic New England properties. For the safety and comfort of our visitors and the protection of our collections and house museums, we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and stay with your guide. Video, camera bags, tripods, and selfie sticks are not permitted. Professional/commercial photographers and members of the media should visit the press room for more information.

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