Hello From the Rhode Island Collection Librarian

Hello and welcome to the first blog post of the new Rhode Island Collection Librarian. My name is Tracy Connolly and I am the new curator and reference librarian to the very wonderful and unique Rhode Island Collection held here at the Providence Public Library.  

As my first blog post, I would like to start a series entitled "Local History." In this series I plan to highlight different aspects of local Rhode Island history that I find in the Rhode Island Collection. This week we start with Barrington, Rhode Island. 

(See this picture  of Barrington and other Rhode Island locations on our Flickr site)

Why, you might ask, Barrington, Rhode Island? Well this week marks the 295th anniversary of Barrington's first incorporation as a town. On 18 November 1717 Barrington was incorporated for the first time when it separated from the town of Swansea, at which time it remained a part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. It did not become a part of Rhode Island until 1746. By 1747 the town's territory was increased and it was renamed Warren. Barrington did not reappeare in Rhode Island until 1769 when a petition from some of the townspeople of Warren requested the town be split in two with the Western side becoming its own town. The petition was granted in 1770 and Barrington was re-incorporated as a town in Rhode Island. 

Like many towns in Rhode Island, Barrington's economic history includes the growth of the manufacturing industry which took over the main industries of farming and seafaring/shipbuilding in the 19th century. The town also became a popular vacation destination during this time period with an increase in country clubs and summer estates. Among other things, Barrington is now known for its beautiful architecture. One such example is Belton Court. Belton Court

Belton Court was owned by Frederick S. Peck, a successful business man, politician, and art and rare book collector. It was built in 1905 next to the Peck family farm known as Ousamequin Farm owned by the Peck family since the mid 1600s. The farm was passed down to Peck after his father's death in 1909 leaving Peck with a very large plot of land to go along with his very large house. Peck named this beautiful example of Medieval Revival architecture "Belton Court" after the ancesteral home of the Pecks in Belton, England. 

Belton Court has passed through many hands, most of which were small colleges, but it is now in private hands. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. Hopefully this means this building will survive and be appreciated for another 100 years. 

To find out more about Barrington, Rhode Island, Frederick S. Peck, or your own town, come on in and visit the Rhode Island Collection. We are always happy to help. 

For further reading:

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. Historic and Architectural Resources of Barrington, Rhode Island. (Providence: Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, 1993).

William Carroll Hill. "Memoirs: Frederick Stanhope Pecek." In New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 101. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1947), pp. 169-170.

Thomas Williams Bicknell. A History of Barrington Rhode Island. (Providence: Snow & Farnham, Printers, 1898).



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