Wanskuck Park Walk

Sun, May 5; 1pm-2:30pm 

Wanskuck Park entrance gate on Woodward Rd, opposite Beulah St and church

Same as starting point


Discover Wanskuck Park, a 25-acre park on Woodward Avenue (off Branch Avenue) in the northern part of Providence. Picturesquely sited opposite an English country-style church (squint and you could be in the Cotswolds), and bounded by a long stone wall, Wanskuck Park is a urban surprise. We will walk the park to discover the tangible remains of its 19th-century history as the estate of Rhode Island School of Design founder Helen Rowe Metcalf (1830-95) and her husband, Jesse Metcalf (1827-99), who in 1862 established the Wanskuck Company textile manufacturing enterprise. In 1948, this site was donated to the City by the widow of former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island Foundation founder, Jesse Metcalf (1860-1942). Louisa Sharpe Metcalf (1866-1959) stipulated as part of the gift that the ancestral house be torn down. If there’s extra time, we will walk down Woodward Avenue to look at some of the surviving 19th-century houses and the 1866+ church.

WALK LEADER: Nancy Austin + Sarah Zurier

Nancy Austin loves Jane’s Walk and previously led Memorable Trees for Mother’s Day in Newport. Nancy wrote her Brown PhD thesis on Helen Rowe Metcalf and the women who founded RISD. She brings to this new Jane’s Walk her historical perspective on the Metcalf family as we look again at this 1948 gift of the Metcalf estate to the city of Providence, RI in what is now Wanskuck Park.

Sarah Zurier has organized Jane’s Walks in Olneyville, South Providence, and the West Side, plus a Jane’s Bike of endangered historic properties around the city. She is a historian at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. Sarah and her family are regular weekend visitors at Wanskuck Park.