Save This Old House: Historic Rodman Farm in North Kingstown

The iconic Tower Hill Road property has waited years for the right owners to come along.

Along Tower Hill Road in North Kingstown, just as you cross the threshold from “I’m going to the beach!” to “I’m almost at the beach!”, there’s a big, red visual reminder of South County’s pastoral history. Before the daytrippers and the mega-mansions took over, the land was tilled and harvested by the area’s hardworking farmers.

That’s what Rodman Farm stands for — what it will stand for, thanks to its current owners. The property, more than nineteen acres in total with rolling pasture, a barn and a pretty white farmhouse, has been on the market for years. The owners have fielded several offers, says Coldwell Banker’s Becky Moniz, but none have been a good fit. They’re looking for buyers with agricultural ambitions, she says, and the land isn’t suitable for development.

“The property sits on a critical groundwater recharge area,” says Moniz. The headwater connecting the Narrow River to Silver Spring Lake flows beneath the property.

In the late 1800s, the land served as a mill farm for Silver Spring Mill and Shady Lea Mill, both of which were owned by the Rodman family. Says historian Tim Cranston, “These farms were about providing food to mill workers that were all part of that self-sustaining community.”

The farmland, barn and historic farmhouse — where the tenant farmer lived, Cranston says — stayed in the Rodman family until the 1950s, when the mills shuttered and Silver Spring Mill was demolished. (Shady Lea still stood, and in the 1990s, it was repurposed as work/live studios for local artisans.) Rodman Farm sold at auction but remained agricultural in purpose for another couple of decades, according to Cranston’s research. Between 1978 and 1985, it housed Potpourri Pottery Studio.

The current owners bought the property with the intention of converting it into a funeral home, says Moniz, but changed plans when another funeral home became available in the area. They rented the barn to a crafts consignment shop in the 1990s, but it never returned to its rural roots aside from seasonal haying by a local farmer. The farmhouse has been leased to tenants throughout the years.

Moniz says the owners see the property returning to agriculture (it’s zoned rural residential) or housing a farm-to-table restaurant. For his part, Cranston says, “If I win the Powerball, I’d be all over that…. It’s a very cool piece of history.”

Won’t somebody save this old house, barn and — just as important — its land?

 

For more information on 1340 Tower Hill Road in North Kingstown, contact Coldwell Banker’s Becky Moniz at 401-203-9109 or visit coldwellbankerhomes.com.

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