The Polowomut Peninsula, surrounded by Narragansett and Greenwich Bays, has a historic past that dates back 1000’s of years and includes the Narragansett Tribe, the early English settlers of the Colony of Rhode Island, and the influential Brown, Ives, and Goddard Families of Rhode Island. Widely known for its beautiful water access to Narragansett Bay, Goddard Park, Potowomut Country Club, and Rocky Hill Country Day School, Potowomut was once home to no less than four grand estates. Sadly, “Thorncliff,” “The Oaks,” and “Warwick Lodge,” have all been lost to the hands of time. Only “Hopelands,” the once grand country estate and farm of Madame Brown, once encompassing 843 acres, remains. The property is fortunate to have had generations of stewards committed to preserving it. Because of this, the estate retains much of its history and historic charm despite the many changes that have taken place over time.
The historical and cultural significance of Hopelands is undeniable. The National Register of Historic Buildings describes the estate as, “an important visual and architectural landmark” that “serves as a fascinating document of the progression of architech1ral styles and aesthetic taste. Its unusual two-story veranda with columns makes it a major city landmark.” Hopelands’ use as a country estate dates from 1792, making it one of the first two such estates in Warwick, the other is Spring Green, from 1783 the country estate of Providence merchant John Brown. As one of the initial country retreats in Warwick, notable for high-quality architectural design from several periods and for associations with figures distinguished in local history, Hopelands constitutes one of the city’s most important cultural resources.
As the sun is rising in the east over Narragansett Bay, the sky glows orange and the light filters through the branches of the property’s many mature oak, maple, and elm trees. The smell of the ocean wafts across the mist-covered meadows and a distant foghorn wails its warning. It is calm and peaceful, and in those moments, it is easy for an early morning visitor to picture members of the Narragansett tribe readying dugout canoes, or John Greene watering his horse. Or perhaps it is Madame Brown playing with one of her grandchildren or The Goddards preparing for another Transatlantic voyage. It is easy to fall in love with this property, its intriguing stories, and its unique inhabitants.