Busy Apponaug Four Corners was once a Native American path called the Pequot Trail. While no longer the geographical center of Warwick, this intersection remains the historic heart of the city. This is where routes 1 (Post Rd), 5 (Greenwich Ave) and 117 (Centerville Rd) converge.
Located in the heart of Warwick, Apponaug serves as home to Warwick's City Hall and is the spiritual "downtown" to the city's 85,000 residents. Settled in 1696, Apponaug quickly became a center for the area's small population. Anything to the west was considered dangerous wilderness. After being platted in 1735, the village experienced hasty growth. Apponaug Cove, sheltered within Greenwich Bay, provided the means for Apponaug to also become an important seaport, which it did during the "Triangle Trade" of the late 18th century.
Later, Apponaug became renowned as a mill town, hosting waves of immigrants looking for work and a better life. Today, Apponaug is quite different from the way it appeared even fifty years ago. Natural disasters, like fire and hurricanes, as well as urban expansion, have changed the face of the village forever. Many historic structures from the 18th and 19th century have survived, and in 1993 Apponaug was designated an Historic District, helping to preserve the history that remains.
WALKING TOUR OF APPONAUG
An informative booklet, The Walking Tour of Historic Apponaug Village, published in 1998, is available at no cost from the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Development in City Hall. This book features over 30 historic structures in Apponaug Village, and for those who enjoy walking, helps to reveal the beauty and history that is Apponaug. Call 1-800-4-WARWICK for more information.
In 1643, Samuel Gorton and his followers established a small settlement at Mill Creek, just south of Conimicut Point. For more than a hundred years, most of the activity of the colony centered around that area.
In the late nineteenth century, with the coming of the Warwick railroad and the electric trolley, the Conimicut shore became a fashionable summer resort. The area's easy access to Providence attracted many affluent citizens from the capital city--merchants, doctors, and lawyers among others--who established summer homes there.
Pawtuxet Village is not only the oldest village in Warwick; it's the oldest village in New England, settled in 1642. During the early years of its existence, Pawtuxet Village was continually beset upon by Indian attacks, but by 1676, most of the Indian leaders had been captured and the settlers were able to live peacefully.
Like the rest of the colonies, unrest under British rule began to grow, and the most serious early act of defiance occurred in Warwick, off Pawtuxet Village on June 8, 1772, when the British revenue schooner, the Gaspee, was burned. After harassing trade ships for years, the Gaspee was lured into shallow waters, off Gaspee Point, where she ran aground. Upon learning of the ship's plight, a raiding party was quickly assembled, and several boats stealthily approached Gaspee, killing its' captain and setting it on fire. Although a large reward was offered for the culprits, the loyal residents of Pawtuxet would never reveal the parties responsible. News of the event rapidly spread, and the Committees of Correspondence, a forerunner of the Continental Congress, were organized as a result.
Later, Pawtuxet Village played a role in the Dorr Rebellion of 1842, and was also a stop of the Underground Railroad of Civil War times. Today, the Village is a nationally recognized Historic District, with it's tree-lined streets populated by dozens of colonial structures and historic homes.
The unusual thing about Potowomut is that you have to actually leave Warwick to get to it. You do this by driving south on Rt. 1 (Post Rd.), and entering East Greenwich, then taking a left onto Forge Rd. where you re-enter Warwick on the peninsula known as Potowomut.
Purchased from the Indians in July of 1654, most of the land was aquired over the next twenty-five years by the Greene family, who used the land to raise cattle and harvest hay, which was then shipped across Greenwich Bay to the town wharf in Apponaug.
Around 1730, the Greene's built an anchor forge mill on their property (which is where the name Forge Rd. comes from), and in 1742, Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene was born on Potowomut.
Today, Potowomut is a beautiful reminder of Warwick's colorful past. Drive or walk to the peninsula's eastern tip and you'll be rewarded with a stunning view of Greenwich Bay. Explore the narrow streets and you'll see a mix of older and newer houses, bravely overlooking the Bay.