VALENTINE WHITMAN HOUSE REVOLVING FUND PROJECT
In the late 1690s, Valentine Whitman Jr. built a house along the Great Road, in what was then Providence but is now the Town of Lincoln. Whitman’s house was large and elaborate for its time, with tall timbers, elegantly decorated with chamfers. One end of the two-story house was constructed entirely of granite stone, similar to other nearby buildings: the Clemence-Irons House (ca.1691) in Johnston and the Arnold House (ca.1693) in Lincoln. Eventually, this type of construction, unique to Rhode Island, became known as the “stone-ender.” Whitman’s house stands today as an exceptional example of this rare type, with fewer than ten stone-enders surviving today.
Whitman’s house survived an early 19th century conversion into three separate apartments and a mid-20th century subdivision and sale of surrounding farmland into a residential development, leaving the historic house on a parcel of less than two acres by the late 20th century. In 1991, the Town of Lincoln rescued the building from all but certain demolition. For the next thirty years a fiercely loyal and hard-working band of volunteers operated a house museum on the site.
A New Future
The Valentine Whitman House faced common dilemmas for house museums across the U.S. today: lack of financial support from the public and private sectors, unreliable visitation, lack of engagement with younger audiences, and mounting maintenance and repair costs. PreserveRI, town officials, and volunteers began to explore a more economically sustainable future for the building.
The property has been transferred from the Town of Lincoln to Preserve RI and adoption of a Preservation Easement that will protect architectural features is in place.
Thanks in part to a generous grant from The 1772 Foundation, the financial resources are in place to proceed with a full rehabilitation of the Valentine Whitman House as part of our Revolving Fund program. We are working closely with our contractor, Heritage Restoration, Inc., on final rehab details and scope.
We are also exploring a final outcome for the building when the rehabilitation is complete – this includes the option of partnering with The Landmark Trust USA to offer the house as a short-term rental property, a private sale, and a residential rental property. Although a final option for use has not been selected for the house, each scenario will ensure long-term preservation and care.
In the News
Town officially turns over Valentine Whitman House - April 2021
Town prepares to turn over Valentine Whitman House - March 2021
Valentine Whitman House transfer is a matter of when, not if - September 2020
Turnover of Valentine Whitman House progressing - December 18, 2019
New chapter for Valentine Whitman House - June 19, 2019
Time running out on Lincoln’s oldest home - June 12, 2019