Hearthside House Museum
Considered to be one of the state's finest examples of Federal-style architecture, Hearthside is a unique stone mansion that was built in 1810 situated along one of the country's earliest roadways, the Great Road, in Lincoln, Rhode Island. With its striking cut-stone facade, full-height portico, and graceful ogee-end gables with circular attic windows, the house is considered the "jewel of the Great Road Historic District" and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to popular folklore, Stephen Hopkins Smith, a Quaker who lived in a modest house directly across the street from Hearthside, won $40,000 in a lottery. He used his winnings to construct a house exceptional enough to win the heart of a young socialite from Providence, who had informed him that she must live in one of the grandest homes in the state. When the house was completed and he presented it to her, she claimed it was "too far out in the wilderness." Heartbroken, Smith never married nor lived in the house.
Eleven families have called Hearthside their home over a 200-year period. Hearthside got its name in 1904 when the Arnold Talbot family ran a nationally-renowned hand weaving business out of the third floor attic known as "The Hearthside Looms." Using looms that were 200 years old at the time, Arnold and his wife created some of the country's finest fabrics. They were known for their fine ecclesiastical altar cloths, and they exhibited regularly at the Decorative Art Rooms in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Providence and various Arts and Crafts exhibitions throughout the country. They were featured in House Beautiful and Ladies Home Journal magazines for their fine work. The Talbot's original looms have been returned to Hearthside, on loan from the American Textile History Museum, and demonstrations by weavers are given regularly during tours. One of the country's foremost photographers in the early part of the 20th century was David Davidson of Providence, who learned the craft of hand-colored photography from Wallace Nutting. Davidson traveled the countryside outside of Providence taking photographs of landscapes and colonial scenes, and he selected Hearthside for some of his earliest photographs, when the Talbot family lived there. Those black-and-white photographs which have been hand-colored are now part of Hearthside's collection.
The last family to reside at Hearthside was the Andrew Mowbray family, who lived there until 1997, when it was purchased by the Town of Lincoln. Since 2001, a volunteer organization, the Friends of Hearthside, has served as its stewards and have transformed it into a museum, with an active calendar of tours and historically-themed special events creatively presented throughout the year. Costumed adult and youth docents, dressing in period attire according to the event from 1812-1920, help to bring the house and history to life. Hearthside is open to the public from March through December on specified dates listed on the website, as well as for group tours and private functions.