House Lust: The Crown Jewel of East Greenwich is on the Market
The stunning Greek Revival mansion has been owned by the Kentish Guards for forty years.
The Kentish Guards have been holding out on us.
Since the late 1970s, the group has owned a stately Greek Revival mansion next door to its equally impressive Armory atop Peirce Street in East Greenwich. The Guards — which formed in 1774 to protect the town and now perform ceremonial duties across the state — bought the mansion with a plan to transform it into a military museum and library.
“Over the years, there were issues with renovation costs and then, unfortunately, when they were getting ready to get a handle on it, the Station nightclub fire happened,” says Warren Kaye, who serves as colonel of the militia company. New regulations for sprinkler systems and secondary egresses were prohibitive for the group, so they leased the home to residential tenants. “We basically just rented it out so we could keep the place going and keep it in repair.”
The Guards — it should come as no surprise — have been fine stewards. Many details are original to the mid-1800s, when the Guards first sold the land to Samuel M. Knowles, a renowned banker in East Greenwich and a militia supporter. Knowles built the home and lived there until his death in 1919.
The only real change to the structure came in the early 1990s, when the Guards were still renovating in preparation for the museum. Up in the widow’s watch, workers deployed a blowtorch to remove paint. If this sounds dangerous, your instincts are on fire — and so was the widow’s watch. The space was rebuilt shortly thereafter.
Affording 360-degree views of East Greenwich and a sliver of Narragansett Bay beyond it, the widow’s watch is just one of many interesting features of this house. Another one: Whoever lives at the Knowles house has, historically, been invited to Kentish Guards events.
One more, Kaye says: “If they like fife and drum music, they get a free concert every Wednesday night.”
Here’s your House Lust: