N.S. Historic District Commission wins grant to research Grange Road

In a photo taken for a story on NRI NOW, Nebiker stands in front of the Malavery House.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Historic District Commission has won a $5,000 grant to be used to research the possibility of creating a Grange Road Historic District.

The grant was one of eight announced this week by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, to support local preservation programs in the state.

In North Smithfield, the money will be used to conduct the research for the application to list the Grange Road and vicinity in the National Registry of Historic Places. The group is working jointly with the North Smithfield Heritage Association to secure recognition for the neighborhood.

Once known as Oxford Turnpike, the street now known as Grange Road precedes both the grange and the Slatersville Reservoir, and used to continued north across the Branch River and into Massachusetts.

The Mowrys, who settled in the area in the 1600s, lived there, owning 1,600 acres that stretched from Woonsocket Hill to Greenville, including land that has since become Bryant University.

The grange was built in the mid-1800s, and the proposed district also encompasses one of the oldest houses in North Smithfield – the Malavery House, built around 1720, and now owned by Irene Nebiker.

When Nebiker purchased the house in 1967, it reportedly had no insulation, and no electricity on the second floor.

The local effort to create the new historic district was inspired by the Malavery House after the two groups contacted the RIHPHC to ask about placing it on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a recent story in The Valley Breeze. They were told they would have a better case if the historic district encompassed a larger part of the neighborhood.

Also encompassed in the proposed district is a historic farm at 152 Grange Road, once home to Thomas Sayles and his wife, Esther, in the 1700s.

Unlike a local historic designation, the national recognition comes with tax benefits, but not with restrictions on changes to the houses within its borders.

The commission also plans to apply to the Town Council to establish the Malavery House and 152 Grange Road as individual, local historic districts.

The funding will allow the commission to begin the process of submitting an application to the federal government.

Other RIHPHC grants announced this week are listed below

  • BRISTOL: $7000 to inventory/assess historic and cultural resources in the historic district that are potentially threatened by sea level rise/storm surge (Image from STORMTOOLS depicts how 10 feet of sea level rise could impact Bristol’s historic waterfront).
  • CRANSTON: $9000 to update the historic resources inventory and to report on preservation priorities, goals, and objectives for the Comprehensive Plan update.
  • CUMBERLAND: $10,000 to identify improvements to the town-owned Old Post Office, and to formulate goals for its redevelopment.
  • PROVIDENCE/Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy: $9000 to research/evaluate the park’s eligibility for National Register listing.
  • PROVIDENCE/Providence Preservation Society: $8500 to diversify the Online Guide to Providence Architecture.
  • WARWICK: $7000 to design/print/mail the Historic Property Owner’s Guide.
  • Reserve: $10,000 for R.I.’s 36th Historic Preservation Conference in 2022.

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