House Lust: In the Heart of Appleland, T.K. Winsor’s Home Still Stands

The Apple King's estate, in Smithfield, is on the market.
Smithfield 1

(Photo credit: Chris Whirlow/Residential Properties)

The Apple King’s house would be red, wouldn’t it?

(To be fair, T.K. Winsor was best-known for his Rhode Island Greenings, but that hue probably isn’t available in Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection.)

The Winsor family, pioneers in the region’s commercial apple industry, harvested and sold dozens of varietals from their 100-acre farm in Smithfield. And for nearly a century, this red clapboard Colonial was home base.

“I think what impressed me is how solid it is,” says Dory Skemp of Residential Properties, who listed the property last month. “It’s actually two houses, as I call it, glued together — put together.”

The first section was built circa 1710 and was home to the Waterman family, who were followers of Roger Williams. In 1780, the back portion of the structure — thought to be another house moved to the site — was added on. The farmhouse stayed in the Waterman family until 1855, when it was sold to William W. Winsor. Nine years later, William enlisted to fight in the Civil War and sold the property to his brother, James, who was already using the land for his commercial orchard.

James planted the seeds, and his son Thomas King — get it, Apple “King”? — reaped much of the glory, selling his award-winning apples nationally and abroad. For a half-century, T.K. reigned over an industry that’s still flourishing today. (Further reading: Where to Go Apple Picking in Rhode Island.) T.K. died in 1949, and his descendants tried to keep up, but the hurricane of 1954 wiped out much of their apple crop and the family decided to sell the farmland into suburbia. But their big red farmhouse — which is on the National Register — a few heirloom apple trees and a former cider mill still stand today.

“The people who own it have been restoring it under the guidance of the best of Rhode Island’s preservation professionals (architects and contractors) for the past forty-seven years,” says Skemp of her sellers, who are retirees ready to downsize and hope to pass it on to similarly passionate stewards. “This house has been here for 300 years. It’s been really restored well and it’s going to be here for another 300 years. It’s not going anywhere.”

Appleland lovers, take a bite out of this House Lust:

For more information on 85 Austin Avenue in Smithfield, contact Residential Properties’ Dory Skemp at 401-524-2369 or visit 85austin.com.

 

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