An Overview of Warwick's Historic Districts

Pawtuxet Village, 1638, the first settlement in Warwick, Historic District zoning enacted in 1989. Pawtuxet Village is both a locally zoned Historic District and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Apponaug Village, 1696, the seat of government since 1834, Historic District zoning enacted in 1993.

Pontiac Village, 1662, the birthplace of the Fruit of the Loom Co, Historic District zoning enacted in 1993.

Pawtuxet Village
Pawtuxet’s occupation be English settlers, about 1638 predates Samuel Gorton’s 1642 settlement at Shawomet. Pawtuxet was a stop along the Pequot Trail (later known as Post Road which connected Providence to the Narragansett country and the settlements of southeastern Connecticut.  Its location in a sheltered cove contributed to the Village’s growth as a seaport in the 18th century. The falls on the river spurred industrial development in the 19th century. Textiles mills erected in 1800 and 1810 were destroyed by fire in 1859 and 1875 respectively, thus ending the Village’s role as a manufacturing center.

Pawtuxet Village’s location at the terminus of one of Providence’s streetcar lines in 1870 lead to the village’s development as a resort center. In 1892, electric trolley lines (the first in the area) contributed to the village’s growth as a suburban neighborhood. The completion of Narragansett Parkway and Bayside Avenue in 1923 ultimately altered Pawtuxet’s street layout and traffic patterns.

Pawtuxet Village has the greatest concentration of Colonial and Federal era architecture in Warwick.

Apponaug Village 
Apponaug was founded in 1696, when the freemen of Warwick were granted a water privilege for the construction of a fulling mill on Kekemewit Brook. The village was an important crossroads where the Pequot Trail (later known as Post Road) intersected West Shore Road (the main connection to “Old Warwick”) and Centerville Road (which lead to a sawmill at Beaver Dam.)

Located at the head of Greenwich Bay, Apponaug became a port and shipbuilding center in the 18th century. A cotton processing factory was built about 1805. Construction of the Stonington Railroad in the 1830’s enhanced its importance, with a shift in the town’s center of population brought about by the industrialization of the Pawtuxet Valley. Apponaug was made the seat of municipal government in 1834-35.

The Oriental Print Works was built in 1859, and later renamed the Apponaug Company. It became one of the foremost textile finishing concerns in the United States and continuing operations until 1958.

The historical structures which remain are a source of community pride and are a major element in the City’s plans for Apponaug’s revitalization.

Pontiac Village
Pontiac was known as Tuskeunke in the 17th century. The Stafford family built a house there in 1681. In the early 19th century, the Arnold family acquired a great deal of land in the vicinity and a little known settlement known as “Arnold’s Bridge” grew up in he crossings of the Pawtuxet River.

About 1810, one of the Arnolds built the area’s first textile mill. The mill expanded and went through several ownerships before finally becoming BB&R Knight Co in 1852. The Knight family renamed the Village Pontiac. The Knight Mills went on to become one of Rhode Island’s most prosperous and largest textile plants, and was the original home of Fruit of the Loom.

As industrial development flourished, a branch of the Stonington Railroad was constructed in the 1870’s. Many immigrants came to work in the mills through the late 19th and early 20th centuries and helped to shape Pontiac.