Editor’s note: Warwick historian Henry A.L. Brown wrote the following in response to an article entitled “A call for reunion for neighborhood lost to Great Hurricane of 1938” that appeared in the Nov. 7, 2013 edition of the Warwick Beacon.
By an act of the Rhode Island General Assembly on May 29, 1873, the Warwick Railroad Company was chartered. The new railroad line operated steam locomotives from Providence at Union Railroad Station through the villages of Elmwood in the town of Cranston, crossing the Pawtuxet River into the town of Warwick that linked the beach communities and campgrounds with the rail terminus at Oakland Beach fronting on East Greenwich Bay. The early railroad was a single-track line with nine stations.
By 1902, the line was expanded to a double-track and electrified with the following stations (15) – Silver Hook adjacent to the Pawtuxet River, Lakewood, Bakers or Palace Gardens, Spring Green, Hoxsie, Coles, Conimicut, Shawomet Beach, Riverview, Bayside-Long Meadow, GRANTS, Rocky Point, Warwick (Neck), adjacent to the salt cove a trestle crossed the inlet into the resorts of Oakland Beach and Buttonwoods. A connecting line ran from Buttonwoods to Apponaug.
Excursion trips in the high summer season for a day’s outing at Rocky Point and Oakland Beach were popular with the addition of men’s social clubs providing golf, tennis, boating, dining and clambakes. Grants RR Station on the line was a short walk across the meadow to the Warwick Club. As far back as before the Civil War, a company of gentleman assembled for clambakes and social intercourse on the Warwick shore many members were politically connected to the U.S. Congress and R.I. State General Assembly: U.S. Senator Henry B. Anthony, U.S. Senator John H. Clark, Samuel Davis, E.S. Jackson, David G. Hall, William H. Greene, J.W. Greene and Nathaniel Grant, whose name is associated with the railroad station stop. The early club house was located on the plat of the Long Meadow Hotel and known as the What Cheer Club purchasing farm land in 1878 from Thomas H. Kelton, for a new association was formed called the Warwick Club, incorporated April 24, 1885. “The headquarters is a fine roomy building with splendid connivances for enjoyment, and its position in the midst of ample grounds commands fine views of the bay with 73 members.” The closest station on the Warwick & Oakland Beach RR was GRANTS, named for Nathaniel Grant; an early much respects member.
The Warwick Club’s head chef Mr. Boon was employed for more than 20 years, an African American, who became legend on his time serving some of the finest clambakes in Rhode Island. “Mr. Ortho Boon is head of what he calls with justice “a clambake family.” He is not only the head of the kitchen of the Warwick Club, but is the chef at the Squantum Club at East Providence. His wife is one of the finest fried eel cooks that ever stood in front of a range. His son is also an expert, trained by his father and able to make a clambake almost as well as the veteran.”
Menu of the last members day of the (1986) season at the Warwick Club.
Little Necks Clams, Spaghetti
Liver Saute, Cheese, Crackers
Brown Bread and White Bread
Baked Clams, Sweet and White Potatoes
Green Corn, Broiled Bluefish
Sausage Tripe, Clam Cakes
Stuffed Potatoes, Stuffed Peppers
Fried Onions, Salt Pork
Stuffed Tomatoes, Fried Scallops
Tom & Jerry (sugar, egg, brandy, allspice, cinnamon, clove, dark rum, milk, and nutmeg)
Turkey In Bake, Béarnaise sauce
Lobster, Julian Potatoes
Rum Omelets, Watermelon
The Warwick Club activities prospered until the outbreak of the First World War when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson urged the U.S. Congress to approve war with Germany in April of 1917. Many of the younger members supported the call for duty. At the end of the conflict in November of 1918, the open land adjacent had been platted, summer cottages constructed; with the loss of open space surrounding the club, also membership began to decline.
On Dec. 15, 1924, the Warwick Country Club was incorporated, purchasing the summer home and expansive grounds of the George L. Shepley estate insurance executive of Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Co. Returning veterans now joined social prominent at the Warwick Country Club. The Warwick Club property was mortgaged in 1925. Prior to the hurricane of 1938, the acre-and-a-half estate club grounds were platted, encompassing Seashore Rd., Avon, Grove, Arlington and Ocean Avenues with the Warwick Club passing into history.
In 1921, the trolley line was known as the Suburban Railroad and was succeeded by the United Electric Railroad Co. The last passenger cars on the line ceased in 1935, with the railroad right-of-way returned to property owners at the time of incorporation in 1873 or purchased by adjacent property owners. The railroads’ steel tracks were removed in 1936, with the creosote railroad ties burned during the winter of 1937. The abandoned Grant station house was demolished from 1939 to 1941.