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Governor Letters

State of Rhode Island



State of Rhode Island

October l997

Dear Mrs. Sarsfield

Thank you for your recent letter to Governor Almond concerning your forthcoming trip throughout the country. It is quite an ambitious undertaking. The governor has asked me to outline various areas of the state which he thinks are important for you to see. We think you will be amazed at the Ocean State's unparalleled variety of scenic attractions and abundant hospitality all packed within 37 x 48 miles.

Roger Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636 as a haven for political and religious freedom. The state was also the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from Great Britain -- and the last to ratify the U.S. Constitution! demanding inclusion of the Bill of Rights, which guarantees individual liberties. Rhode Island continues to celebrate three and one-half centuries of living history and international heritage with tremendous pride and enthusiasm throughout the state.

Rhode Island is a state of striking contrasts. Located on New England's south coast. It is blessed with more than 400 miles of spectacular coastline, 100 public and private beaches charming seaside villages, and 2,300 acres of pristine woodlands. Yet, Rhode Island has cities which offer the cultural assets and excitement of urban life. Explore the state's distinctive regions including the historic Blackstone River Valley and Greater Providence's exceptional restaurants and arts and entertainment venues, to world renowned Newport and the charming coastal resorts of South County and Block Island.

Blackstone Valley
The Blackstone Valley, known as "the birthplace of American industry," is an area rich in history and architectural beauty ln Pawtucket, Samuel Slater established the nation's first cotton mill in 1793 and forever changed the nature of textile technology. Along the banks of the Blackstone River dozens of factories sprung up, employing generations of working class families and drawing thousands of immigrants from around the world. Many serve today as factory outlet stores, art studios and artists lofts. Popular attractions in this region include Slater Mill Historic Site and the Dagget House owned by Gen. Nathanael Greene, second-in-command to George Washington Blackstone Valley also provides the Ocean State with some of its best fall foliage displays, as well as autumn events.

Providence, Rhode Island's capital city, is known for its historic landmarks and magnificent architecture. Benefit Street' s "Mile of History" boasts the most impressive concentration of original Colonial homes in America. The John Brown House and the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America are just a couple of the home and churches open to the Public. The state Capitol, built of Georgian marble, features the fourth largest self-supported dome in the world. If it's a nice day, a wonderful place for a walk is Waterplace Park. View beautifully landscaped river walks and Venetian-style bridges that connect downtown Providence to the College Hill and historic East Side areas. The Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, one of the nation's fInest small museums, is also worth a visit. Looking for a place to eat, taste award winning cuisine from a variety of Providence restaurants, five of which have been named to Esquire Magazine' s Top 25 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. For fine Italian food visit Federal Hill, Rhode Island's own "Little Italy" and one of Providence's oldest ethnic neighborhoods .

Block Island
Block Island, heralded as "One of the Last Twelve Great Places in the Western Hemisphere," is an 11-square-mile seaside resort located just 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast. The Island features rolling green hills and dramatic bluffs reminiscent of Ireland as well as beautifully restored Victorian hotels and inns. The bluffs rise abruptly to a height of about 200 feet above the sea and stretch for nearly three miles along the southern shore, offering spectacular scenic vistas. Long public beaches, 365 freshwater ponds, and walking, birding and hiking paths through grassy meadows and quiet woods are popular attractions. Visit the breathtaking Mohegan Bluffs! The Clayhead Nature Trail, Settlers' Rock, and historic North and Southeast Lights. Block Island is easily reached by air or sea. Interstate Navigation operates year-round ferry service from Point Judith which takes approximately l hour each way.

South County
South County is best known for its wide, sand beaches, picturesque countryside and quaint villages. You'll find an abundance of historic inns and bed & breakfasts and local historic museums such as Gilbert Stuart Birthplace (home of the America's foremost portraitist of George Washington) and Smith' s Castle (America's oldest plantation house). Wickford Village is the perfect place for leisurely browsing. This old fishing village now features quaint shops and Colonial homes. While the seafood is fresh and abundant, an array of fine restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines is offered in this region. Be sure to try the quahog an extra-large, hard-shell clam native to the waters around Rhode Island. The tasty delight is most often cooked, chopped, stuffed and mixed with tangy seasoned stuffing and then reheated on the half-shell. Quahogs were introduced as food to early Rhode Island settlers by the Narragansett Indians, and have become the official state shellfish. Another state specialty is the Jonny-cake, made with white Rhode Island corn meal, carefully ground with fine-granite mill-stones, baked and usually served with native sausage.

Newport is best known for it Gilded Age mansions. Built by 19th century industrial magnates and business tycoons, these mansions portray the opulence of a bygone era. Today, nearly a dozen of these remarkable "summer cottages" are open to the public for touring. The city is also known for its delightful mix of Colonial heritage, beautiful beaches, lively waterfront and cultural attractions. Newport boasts over three hundred 17th and l8th century structures, many of which are open to the public. Other popular attractions include the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Touro Synagogue, the oldest in the country. For spectacular views of the ocean, beaches and harbor, drive down famous Ocean Drive or stroll along the Cliff Walk. Picturesque restaurants, many with waterfront views, feature superb native seafood and American and Continental cuisine.

Bristol County, home of the oldest Fourth of July Parade in the United States, is noteworthy for its recreational opportunities of upper Narragansett Bay and its many historic homes and churches. For unparalleled views of the Bay, bike, walk, jog or rollerblade the 14-mile East Bay Bike Path. Other attractions include Blithewold Mansion & Gardens, a 45-room manor house on the water with some of the most beautiful gardens in the eastern United States, Linden Place a Federal period mansion, and Herreshoff Marine Museum, where six successful America's Cup defenders were built.

From our colonial clapboard homes and churches to our elegant European-style mansions, Rhode Island offers not only a unique blend of geographic, historic and cultural diversity, but a rare quality of life. On behalf of the Governor, I am delighted to welcome you and to extend the abundant hospitality of the Ocean State. If you would like any additional information on our state please feel free to contact me at 401-277-2601. Have a great trip!


Ellen M. Van Royen
Information Services Coordinator

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