The 1770 home built by Nathanael Greene, one of George Washington’s most capable generals, is historically known as the “Homestead.” Originally, it was called “Spell Hall.”
It sits on the same hillside on which it was built in what is today the town of Coventry. It is about 26 miles from Newport and the trip takes about 45 minutes. At the time it was built, the home was well sheltered on the west by natural woods. Today, it is surrounded by a residential community.
The land spreading out from the front of the house, which is on the opposite side from the main road, slopes eastward toward the Pawtuxet River. Originally, it overlooked a broad area of open woodland meadow. The two and one-half story structure sits on 13 acres of combined open space and woodlands.
The two main floors of Greene’s home each consist of four rooms. Two rooms are located on each side of a dominant central hall. Each room features a paneled fireplace and three large double-hung windows.
The completely intact interior was restored from 1919 to 1924, when the building was established as a museum. A more recent restoration included paint analysis for a more correct perspective of the house when the general, a Quaker, lived there. The eight display rooms are furnished with period pieces and Greene family memorabilia. The hardware found throughout the house was wrought at the nearby forge owned by the Greene family.
After the war, Nathanael and his wife Caty moved away. His brother, Jacob, along with Jacob’s wife, Margaret, purchased the home. It stayed in the family for two more generations until the death of Nathanael’s grand-niece, Elizabeth Market (Greene) Warner, during 1899.
Greene, who fought for independence throughout the 13 colonies, eventually settled in Georgia. He was presented with a home near Savannah and today rests under a huge monument in one of that city’s squares.
To find the Nathanael Green Homestead Museum, travel on Route 138 east, which then merges into Route 1 north and then Route 4 north. After passing Interstate 95, follow signs into Coventry. The home is located on 50 Taft Street. Phone ahead (401-821-8630) to learn if the homestead is open for touring. Also visit the Nathanael Green Homestead Association website.
Selected Greene comments –
- His opinion of Washington in a letter written to friend Samuel Ward on July 14, 1777:
“I hope we shall be taught to copy his example, and to prefer the love of liberty, in this time of public danger, to all the soft pleasures of domestic life, and support ourselves with manly fortitude amidst all the dangers and hardships that attend a state of war. And I doubt not, under the General’s wise direction, we shall establish such excellent order and strictness of discipline as to invite victory to attend him wherever he goes.”
- Letter to his wife on April 27, 1777:
“I am sure America will be victorious finally, but her sufferings for want and union and public spirit may be great first. There are no people on earth that ever had so fair an opportunity to establish their freedom at so easy a rate, if the opportunity had been properly improved. God grant a happy issue to the war!”
- Also attributed to General Greene:
“My object is the safety of the people and the establishment of our liberties.”
[Image: Mike Virgintino]