John Brown House Museum, Rhode Island

The John Brown House Museum is located in a palatial mansion constructed in 1786, and features exhibits on Rhode Island furniture and decorative arts. John Brown (1736-1803) was a merchant and (as was not uncommon among colonial merchants) smuggler who had played an important role in the Gaspee affair of 1772, in which a British revenue ship was burned in a raid. After the Revolution, Brown made a fortune in (among other things) the China trade. The house is maintained and operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society, which has meticulously restored the house, even reproducing its original colors and French wallpapers. Many of the furnishings on display are original Brown family pieces. The John Brown House is also the Rhode Island Historical Society’s headquarters.

The John Brown House Museum is located at 52 Power Street, in Providence, Rhode Island 02906.

Naval War College Museum, Rhode Island

The Naval War College is an elite institution for training career naval officers in military strategy and naval operations for command, staff, and management positions in the United States Navy. The college has been located at Coasters Harbor Island, two miles north of the center of Newport, Rhode Island, since 1884. The college was originally located in a large stone building that had formerly been the Newport Asylum for the Poor. (Legend has it that Commodore Stephen B. Luce, USN, opened the front door of the old asylum when he first came to establish the new college and solemnly announced, “Poor little poorhouse, I christen thee United States Naval War College.”) Today the old asylum, now known as “Founders Hall,” is a National Historic Landmark and home to the Naval War College Museum. The Museum chronicles the history of naval warfare in general, and especially American naval warfare from colonial times to the present. The museum features permanent exhibits which focus on the planning and exceution of naval campaigns, and temporary exhibits on current developments in naval warfare.

Location and Directions

Links: Naval War College Museum

General Nathaniel Greene Homestead, Rhode Island

Nathaniel Greene may have been the best general on the American side during the Revolutionary War. (We won’t count Benedict Arnold, who wins hands-down as the best general to fight on both sides.) Greene served as George Washington’s second-in-command in the Continental Army. In 1781, Washington sent him south to take command of American forces after series of disasters there. Savannah and Charleston had both fallen to the British, and an American army under Horatio Gates had been disastrously defeated at Camden. Greene fought a classic military campaign, in which he lost every battle (although most were near-run matters), but so exhausted and depleted British forces that he forced them to withdraw from the theater of operations. British General Cornwallis withdrew, in fact, into Virginia for new supplies and reinforcements, where he was later trapped by Washington and America’s French allies at the siege of Yorktown, which effectively ended the Revolutionary War. Greene had built a homestead in Anthony, Rhode Island in 1770. Spell Hall, as he called, is still located on a hillside facing the Pawtuxet River. Greene himself lived there from 1770 to 1776. After the war he settled in Georgia, where Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin on his plantation in the 1790’s. His old house in Rhode Island is now a museum run by the General Nathanael Greene Homestead Association. The rooms are furnished with period furniture and Greene family memorabilia.

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Links: General Nathaniel Greene Homestead