Roger Williams Park

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Roger Williams Park Historic District
Bandstand and Casino, Roger Williams Park, Providence, Rhode Island.jpg
Bandstand and Casino
Roger Williams Park is located in Rhode Island
Roger Williams Park
Roger Williams Park is located in the US
Roger Williams Park
Location Providence, Rhode Island
Coordinates 41°47′02″N 71°24′39″W / 41.78399°N 71.410889°W / 41.78399; -71.410889Coordinates: 41°47′02″N 71°24′39″W / 41.78399°N 71.410889°W / 41.78399; -71.410889
Built Feb. 12, 1872
Architect Cleveland, Horace William Shaler; Multiple
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Other
NRHP reference #


Added to NRHP October 15, 1966

Roger Williams Park is an elaborately landscaped 427-acre (173 ha) city park in Providence, Rhode Island and is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is named after the founder of the city of Providence and one of the founders of the state of Rhode Island, Roger Williams.


The land for the park was a gift to the people of Providence in 1872, in accordance with the will of Betsey[Note1] Williams, the great-great-great-granddaughter, and last surviving descendant of the founder to own the land, it had been the family farm and represented the last of the original land grant to Roger Williams in 1638 from Canonicus, chief of the Narragansett tribe. The family farmhouse (built in 1773), known as the Betsey Williams Cottage, and the Williams family burial ground (including Betsey's grave) are still maintained within the park.[2]

The original bequest consisted of a farm of about 100 acres.[3] Additional land to the south was purchased in 1891 at a cost of #359,000,[3] this addition, consisting mostly of unimproved land, covered with woods and ponds, brought the total area of the park to about 400 acres.[3] The natural history museum opened in 1895.[3]

2016-2017 renovations[edit]

New bike lanes in Roger Williams Park. Northbound car traffic on the far left, and separate lanes for runners, northbound cyclists, and southbound cyclists.

In 2016-2017, the Rhode Island Foundation began a renovation effort in the park, as a celebration of the centennial anniversary of the foundation,[4] the park's historic bandstand was the first to be renovated in December 2016. The renovations would expand to other park buildings and entrances.[4]

In June 2017, as part of these renovations, a new traffic pattern was introduced in the park, the two-way traffic along Frederick Green Memorial Boulevard from Pine Hill Avenue to Park Avenue to the Montgomery Avenue Rotary was changed to one lane with one-way northbound automobile traffic, and a dedicated lane for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.[5] The move was met by opposition by some Cranston residents,[6] including Cranston mayor Allan Fung.[7]


Swan Boat Pond in Autumn

The park contains seven lakes which comprise approximately 98 acres (40 ha). It is located in the southernmost part of the city of Providence bordering the city of Cranston, the park was designed by Horace Cleveland in 1878, and was constructed in the 1880s. Many of the roads, bridges and sidewalks were built by the Works Progress Administration from 1935 to 1940. Currently it contains the Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, the Japanese Gardens, the Victorian Rose Gardens, the Providence Police Department's Mounted Command center, the Dalrymple Boathouse and boat rentals, historical tours, a Carousel Village for children that includes the "Hasbro Boundless Playground" which is accessible for handicapped children, the Temple to Music, the Roger Williams Park Casino, large greenspaces, and many miles of walking paths.

In their 2000 annual report, the National Trust for Historic Preservation called Roger Williams Park one of the finest urban parks in the U.S.[8]


See also[edit]


Note1 Her headstone name is spelled as "Betsey Williams," but she has been mistakenly called "Betsy" through the centuries, as it appears on numerous articles, postcards, and books.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Rootsweb, photos of Williams Family Cemetery, (accessed July 17, 2008)
  3. ^ a b c d Grieve, Robert (February 1896). "Modern Providence". The New England Magazine. New England Magazine Company. 13 (6): 788–789. Retrieved 6 April 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Rhode Island Foundation works to restore Roger Williams Park". TurnTo10. Associated Press. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  5. ^ San Miguel, Michelle (2 June 2017). "One-way traffic pattern instituted at Roger Williams Park". Providence: TurnTo10. NBC 10 News. Archived from the original on 10 June 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  6. ^ Marrocco, Jacob (24 May 2017). "One-way Roger Williams greenway loop draws mostly negative reaction". Cranston Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Hill, John (17 May 2017). "Cranston residents oppose road plan in Providence park". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  8. ^ National Trust for Historic Preservation 2000 Annual Report.

External links[edit]

Media related to Roger Williams Park at Wikimedia Commons

Parks in Providence, Rhode Island

Burnside Park · India Point Park · Prospect Terrace Park · Roger Williams National Memorial · Roger Williams Park · Waterplace Park