NSHA plants tree behind renovated Heritage Hall

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The celebration of the 150th anniversary of the date North Smithfield became a town continued last Friday with a tree planting ceremony at Heritage Hall.

The ceremony, put on by North Smithfield Heritage Association in collaboration with the Rhode Island Tree Council also marked Arbor Day 2021, which fell on Friday, April 30.

“The tree will commemorate the town’s 150th anniversary as well as enhance the neighborhood’s natural beauty,” explained NSHA President Richard Keene.

The tree, an oak with the potential to grow between 40 and 80 feet tall, was planted behind the historic building at 101 Green St., just beside the Town Hall building once known as Kendall Dean School. The trees can reach widths of 60 to 100 feet, and typically reaches mature shape and size in 75 years or less.

After it was planted, John Campanini, technical director of the Tree Council, offered remarks on behalf of the organization, which donated the oak to the town. Campanini spoke briefly at the ceremony, then talked about the state’s native trees and the vital role they play in the environment from home later via Zoom.

Keene noted that a marker will be placed by the new greenery commemorating the sesquicentennial in the near future.

The gathering continued the ongoing celebration of North Smithfield’s 150th anniversary, which began in March with virtual celebrations and cake-cutting ceremonies held across town. It’s just one of several events planned for the year, with NSHA also collecting items for a time capsule to be buried next year.

The NSHA, a volunteer organization that works to preserve and promote the culture, heritage and history of North Smithfield, has been busy improving Heritage Hall, a structure built in 1897 as a chapel for the St. Luke’s Episcopal Mission. The building once served a congregation of families from the Slatersville textile mills, and was later owned by the Union Grange and operated as a community building, before it was donated to the association in 1994.

In recent months, the group renovated the lower hall in the building, which normally helps to raise income for the NSHA as a rental facility, although in recent months it’s been closed due to the pandemic.

“We combined professional services with tons of volunteer help to repaint the walls and ceilings in both the upper and lower halls at Heritage Hall,” noted Keene. “They also refinished all the floors.”

Residents will have a chance to view the improvements, as well as NSHA’s renovation work at another building in the group’s care, Memorial Town Hall, at a two-day open house scheduled for June. NRI NOW will publish more details on that event later this month.

Keene said the organization also plans to resume Heritage Hall rentals by June 1.

“The buildings look spectacular,” he said. “Our Director of Maintenance Charlie Dubois, along with his team of volunteers has done considerable work at both buildings over the past year.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated from its original version. 

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