Haunted NRI Part IV: A country shop & a ghostly theater

Brown & Hopkins in Glocester is said to be the oldest country store in continuous operation in the U.S.

Editor’s note: The below content is the third installment of a series on local ghost stories, offered as part of our Fall Guide. Read Part I here,  Part II here and Part III here. A printable pdf of the complete guide is available here, and can be accessed through the “Fall” tab, where it will remain through October 31.

In part IV of our series on haunted northern Rhode Island, get the details on two more allegedly ghostly stops to add to your tour this Halloween season.

The Assembly Theatre

Where: 29 East Ave. Harrisville

The legend: Several people who worked with the theater’s repertory company in the past have reported paranormal occurrences and some say a ghost haunts the bathrooms in the rear of the theatre building. RISEUP Paranormal did an analysis on the historic theater and according to founder Ken DeCosta, had, “some unusual findings.” Holly Dumaine-Picard, executive chairperson of the non-profit group that runs the theater says she was initially a skeptic but, she’s “finding out.” 

“The Assembly is and always has been haunted,” Dumaine-Picard said. 

The history: Built as a gift to the town by mill owner and philanthropist Austin Levy in 1933, the community theater has historically been used as a community space, a movie theater and a space for live performances. Levy established a Board of Administration to manage the theater, along with several other buildings he donated to the town of Burrillville including the current Town Hall, the town Annex and the American Legion Hall. 

Get there: Now run by volunteer group Patrons of the Assembly Theatre, the 354-seat venue has productions and special events throughout the year. Find  out when to catch a show with a side of the supernatural at https://www.facebook.com/assemblytheatreRI.

Brown & Hopkins

Where: 1179 Putnam Pike, Chepachet

The legend: Employees report encounters, including an unknown woman with long brown hair in the upstairs bedroom, staring into an open suitcase. Items in the store sometimes move overnight and witnesses say they’ve seen random flashes around the establishment. Paranormal investigators have visited, documenting unexplained voices and a former tenant of the building reportedly had to even line the windows and door frames with salt to ward off malevolent spirits. Those who have worked at the store in recent years have nicknamed the ghost “Ella,” after Ella Hopkins, daughter of one of the original owners, and say they believe the spirit is friendly.

The history: The building that now holds Brown & Hopkins Country Store was constructed by Timothy Wilmarth in 1799 to serve as a residence and hattery, It became a general store in 1809 under the ownership of Ira Evans. The store got its present day name in 1921 when it was purchased by James Brown and William Hopkins. Bond Map Company of New York reported it to be the oldest country store in continuous operation in the United States

Get there: Today, Brown & Hopkins features two floors filled with a little bit of everything, from vintage home accessories and reproduction furniture, to candles, yard ornaments and penny candies. Many elements of this one-of-a-kind store have remained unchanged for centuries. Perhaps, that’s why the spirits also stick around? See for yourself during regular business hours Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 to 5 p.m.   

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