History of the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society
East Greenwich residents who had witnessed the demolition of the old Town Hall at 76 Main Street were determined not to lose another historic piece of East Greenwich. After an article appeared in the December 15, 1966 issue of the Rhode Island Pendulum about the Col. Whitmarsh Brick House being slated for the wrecking ball, the East Greenwich Preservation Society was born.
The beautiful shingle style Town Hall on Main Street, built in 1886, was torn down in December 1964 to make room for a parking lot.
At breakneck speed, the Society was formed, incorporated, and ready to get to work saving one of East Greenwich’s most recognizable landmarks. In early January 1967, the group toured the Col. Whitmarsh property. An article in the January 5th Pendulum noted: “None seemed particularly dismayed at the considerable work that needed to be done. In fact, the general attitude appeared to be ‘let’s get going.’”
On January 18, 1967, the incorporation papers for the East Greenwich Preservation Society were signed, and in March the by-laws were adopted. Then the negotiating for the purchase of the Whitmarsh (Brick) house on Main Street began. The initial offer on the Whitmarsh house was turned down. In May 1967, it was announced that the house was to be sold to E.G. Preservation Society for the price of $16,500. The Society acquired ownership in March 1968.
Our first president, Sumner Halsband, noted: “Too often a community wakes up too late to find that the things and places that link it with its beginnings have disappeared.”
Today, we recognize and appreciate the hard work our founding members did to ensure that East Greenwich maintained its historic character.
Our Society is proud to be steadfast in preserving the town’s history, customs, and architectural heritage since its founding in 1677.
Sumner Halsband, President: 1966-1968
Ellsworth Harding, President: 1969-71
Robert Allen Greene, President:1971-1972
Marion L. Fry, President:1972-1994,
Robert Merriam, President: 1994-1995
Florence Clement, President: 1995-2003
Marion Helwig, President: 2003-2015
Virginia Schmidt Parker, President: 2015-2021