It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.
Thanks to the Coventry Historical Society, the little village of Summit, a stop on the Providence, Hartford, & Fishkill railroad line, survives. Summit is one of many little villages within Coventry, a town in western Rhode Island that covers sixty-two square miles.
Back in the 1860s, Summit had a church and five white houses, a library, and the general store you see pictured above. It added a saw mill, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, and a comb factory as more houses were added. Back in the 1700s, it was known as Perry’s Hollow, and the name “Summit” signified a high point on the rail line. The Coventry Greenway bike path, built along the old rail line, does climb as it reaches Summit, the end of the bike path.
If you can read this map, you’ll see the railroad line is indicated horizontally about two-thirds down the picture. “H.P. & F. R. R.” stands for Hartford Providence & Fishkill Railroad, and there is the depot, the store, a Christian church, and homes for familiar old Rhode Island names such as Tillinghast, Vaughn, Austin, Franklin, Nichols, Matteson, and Capwell.
The general store was built in 1855 by Giles Nichols, who served also as the station agent and postmaster. Nixon Hall was built in 1888 to serve as a public hall. Various societies including the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (official name of what we usually refer to as a grange, or a farmers’ association) met there.