Sunday was a beautiful day here in Little Rhody. A perfect day to be outside. We decided we would gather the boys and go hike one of our trails. Unfortunately, it was also opening weekend for freshwater fishing so bringing three little boys along the river to the reservoir might upset and disturb some fisherman. We decided to explore a new area. My husband and I have lived in this area all our lives and had never been to the John Hunt House. There is a small museum there but it was closed. What we were really interested in were the grounds. The river runs right through the plot of land, which used to be the home of (according to our research when we got home) a saw mill, a fulling mill, and a grist mill.
We hiked along the river and then my husband spotted a garter snake which just thrilled my reptile loving 6 year-old. They followed the snake to a hole in what appeared to be an old foundation. We climbed up over the foundation and were met by a moss-covered flat area. There were big steel pipes coming out of the ground. My hypothesis…a building or mill that burned to the ground. I could only imagine what had been there, not knowing the history of the place. It was absolutely fascinating. Ash still on the ground and covered with moss. What was here? When was it here? When did it burn? The questions kept swirling in my head.
We headed back toward the old boarded up mill and back to the picnic area. We discovered a large field in the back with a tall oak tree in the center. Large stones formed a circle around the tree. My first thought, a cult and sacrifice. Goosebumps. We headed over for a closer look. There were numbers on the rocks, two to each rock. It was like a performance ring. I imagined a time of theatrical performances. Shakespeare in the park. Ancient Greek drama; Oedipus Rex. The boys put on a performance for us…break-dancing meets kung fu combined with rolling in the grass. Then Finn and I had a little sword fight. We had so much fun.
We must have spent hours there exploring. I even found a bench with my mother’s maiden name on it. A day full of adventure, new discoveries, imaginations running wild, and a history lesson…all unexpected in our own backyard on a Sunday afternoon. You can’t beat that.
My husband and I were so intrigued we had to look up the history of the place. The mills were passed down from generation to generation. In 1886 they were sold to a chemical company and a water company. They built a pumping station and recreation area. The old foundation we found in the woods…that was a dance hall that burned in 1925. Imagine that.