N.S. council to consider creation of new historic district

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The North Smithfield Town Council will consider a proposal to establish a new historic district on Grange Road at their next meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 15.

The proposal is the latest in an effort by the North Smithfield Historic District Commission to gain recognition for one of the oldest house in town, a two-story single-family home owned by Irene Nebiker.

Known as the Malavery House, the structure at 28 Grange Road was originally owned by members of the Mowry family, who settled in the area in the 1600s. John Mowry’s granddaughter, Experience, and her husband John Malavery built in the house in around 1720 according to members of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, who are working jointly with the commission on the preservation project.

The Mowrys once owned 1,600 acres, with land that stretched from Woonsocket Hill Road to Greenville Road, including an area that has since become Bryant University. At the time, the road by the Malavery House was known as Oxford Turnpike.

“For a time, the house served as a stagecoach stop on the Old Oxford Turnpike from Providence to Oxford, Mass.,” noted a brief on the effort by the NSHA.

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

The commission is also working to to have the 18th century house added to the National and State Register of Historic Places as part of a larger “Grange Road Historic District.” That district would also include the grange, built in the mid-1800s a historic farm at 152 Grange Road, once home to Thomas Sayles and his wife, Esther, in the 1700s.

In May, the commission won a $5,000 grant from the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to research the option. The national recognition comes with tax benefits, but not with restrictions on changes to the houses within its borders.

The local designation to be considered by the council, meanwhile, would target only Nebiker’s home, and would come with guidelines for home improvement projects, which must be approved in advance by the NSHDC. Rehabilitation projects within the town’s historic districts are required to retain the structure’s character, protect craftsmanship, protect archaeological resources and more, according to a guide published by the commission.

North Smithfield currently has four local historic districts which are subject to the NSHDC review process: the Forestdale Schoolhouse, the Union Village Historic District, the Slatersville Historic District and The Blunders.

The commission reportedly also plans to apply to the Town Council to establish 152 Grange Road as individual, local historic district.

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