Heir to one of Rhode Island’s leading textile manufacturing families, Henry Lippitt (1818-1891) designed and supervised the construction in 1865 of a house at 199 Hope Street in Providence for his wife Mary Ann Balch (1823-1889) and their six children. Occupied by generations of the Lippitt family for 114 years, the house is a three story, thirty room Renaissance Revival villa with Italian palazzo elements. Embellished with elaborate faux finishes, colorful stained glass windows, ornate woodwork details, and surviving original furnishings, the house is also significant for its pioneering mechanical systems. These features combine to create a sense of place worthy of preserving and sharing with the Providence community and beyond. In this spirit, the public programs offered by the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum provide opportunities for the study of Victorian life and put the house and its occupants in a historical perspective to facilitate greater understanding of today’s Providence.
Henry Lippitt served as Rhode Island Governor from 1875-1877. His sons continued a tradition of public service with son Charles (1895-1897) also serving as Governor, Henry F. a United Sates Senator (1911-1917) and Robert serving in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Later descendants, including Fred Lippitt, Duncan Doolittle, John Chafee, and Lincoln Chafee continue the family’s tradition of public service into the 21st century. The Lippitt women were also involved in civic activities including Mary Balch Lippitt Steedman (1858-1938) helping organize the Providence chapter of the American Red Cross. Both Mary Ann Balch Lippitt and her daughter, Jeannie Lippitt Weeden (1852-1940), were early advocates for the oral method of deaf education. Following the Lippitt family’s example of public service, the Museum supports programs that promote civic engagement.
Photos: Lippitt House, Providence, ca. 1890 and Henry Lippitt's gubernatorial portrait