Burrillville Then & Now: Harrisville Main Street

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BURRILLVILLE – Welcome to Burrillville Then & Now, where we take a glance back at how the town used to look, then show how the same space looks today.

With photos and information provided by the Burrillville Historic & Preservation Society, we look now at Harrisville Main Street.

The photograph shown above will appear in the introduction of a new “Images of America” book by Arcadia Publishing titled “Burrillville Revisited”. It is an early 1900s photograph showing Main Street in Harrisville.  Back then, there used to be stores and businesses on both sides of the street, where now there are none. 

Notice that there are trolley tracks on the road. The trolley line in Burrillville was completed in 1902 and went from Woonsocket to Pascoag. On the left side of the road is the Joseph O. Clark house, which still stands. The next building is the Remington Cash Store, owned by Dewitt Clinton Remington. Just beyond that, the steeple of the First Universalist Church can be seen. The church’s architecture was Victorian when it was built in 1886. In 1933, Austin T. Levy rebuilt the church, giving it a Colonial appearance to match the Colonial look of the town buildings he had constructed for the town. Beyond the church is a three-story brick building called the Memorial Building, which was constructed in 1906. It had stores, a library, town offices, a bowling alley and a large hall on the third floor for meetings and performances. Austin T. Levy tore down this building in 1933 and constructed the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library in its place. The former library now serves as the Town Annex.

The building on the right foreground was the A & P Store. The large building next to it was called the Reynolds Block. Inside the Reynolds Block, there was a post office on the first floor. A man named John Reynolds was the post master from 1913-1923. It contained a dry goods store called John Q. Adams Cash Store and there was also a millinery in that building.

Harrisville has changed tremendously due to the influence of Austin T. Levy. Chapter 4 of, “Burrillville Revisited,” will show you these drastic changes.

The new “Images of America” book was written on behalf of the Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society and contains over 200 historical photographs. Each photograph contains a caption describing the photograph. The book required many hours of work for the past year and a half, choosing photographs that have a story and then researching the history. It contains nine chapters.

1) Mills

2) Houses and Businesses

3) Farms

4) Influence of Austin T. Levy

5) Spring Lake (once Herring Pond)

6) Floods, Blizzards and Hurricanes

7) Parades

8) Transportation

9) Stories from the Grave.

After reading the book you will better understand and appreciate the history of our town, whether you lived here all your life, or are a new resident and know little of Burrillville’s past.

The BH & PS is taking orders now. The cost is $21.99 and the book will be available in mid-June. To order your copy, email bmencucci@verizon.net. You are also welcome to place your order in person at either of two large yard sales on Saturday, May 22 and Saturday, June 5 at the Bridgeton School, 16 Laurel Hill Avenue, Pascoag.

Betty Mencucci is president of the Burrillville Historic & Preservation Society. 

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