This early Georgian-styled mansion was built circa 1734 for Dr. Joshua Babcock, who was Westerly's first physician and a Chief Justice of Rhode Island. It was Westerly's first Post Office, and later became the home of Orlando Smith, discoverer of Westerly Granite in 1846.
Since the middle of the eighteenth century the Babcock-Smith House has stood amid an ever-changing area atop Granite Street in Westerly. One of Rhode Island's important architectural and historical landmarks, the house as it now stands clearly reflects the modes of life of the several generations who continuously occupied the house until 1972.
The Babcock-Smith House is a two-and-a-half story, wooden-framed house of 18th-century Georgian design. The prominent gambrel roof slopes in the rear to cover a one-story addition; the six fireplaces feed into the large central chimney which dominates the roof line. The ell to the north is of later date and now serves as caretaker's quarters.
The main facade is distinguished by tall, narrow windows capped with heavy moldings, and an impressive front entrance with fluted Doric pilasters and a broken-scroll pediment. Originally flush with the front of the house, the entrance was later extended to allow more room in the interior hall. Here the emphasis is on the stair balustrade with its spirally-turned balusters in three alternating designs and the corkscrew turnings of the extraordinary newel post. The outline of the paneling in the stairwell repeats the graceful curves of the molded handrail.
To the right of the hall is the parlor with its fine woodwork and corner cupboard, one of the chief glories of the house. The tapered, fluted pilasters are capped with a series of three Doric capitals that lead into the scalloped outline of the shell top. The design of these pilasters is repeated an a larger scale on the paneled fireplace wall. The interior window shutters fold into the recesses of the surrounding frames above the window seats. The dark blue of the woodwork duplicates the original paint color found under many layers paint.
The old kitchen at the rear was extended sometime in the late 18th century, allowing for the addition of a "borning room" and another small bedroom. The eight-foot open fireplace with Dutch oven and fieldstone hearth is the focal point, and is fitted with an assortment of early cooking utensils.
In the two upstairs bedrooms, Delft tiles illustrating Biblical stories surround the fireplaces; although the woodwork in these rooms is plainer than that downstairs, it is nonetheless of consistent quality. In the south bedroom next to the chimney is a small closet where Dr. Babcock supposedly kept a skeleton for anatomical reference.
Fine examples of both primitive and sophisticated 18th-century furniture, including a Queen Anne daybed, a Connecticut highboy, a Federal sideboard, and several tall-case clocks, share space with 19th-century pieces. Furnishing on loan from local collections in addition to items generously donated add further interest to many of the rooms. Part of a large collection of textiles is also on display from time to time.
Pictures and information were provided by Babcock-Smith House
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