The Naughtons were thrilled to move into the historic house that seemed to symbolize the basic principle of “no taxation without representation” aspect of our country’s history. They also found buying an old, historic house presented a number of problems, that preservation demanded a lot of money, time and patience. Eileen was able to do a great deal of the necessary research on the Watermans and, fortunately, they were able to procure the services of Steve Tyson, who specializes in preserving old houses. The result of their work leaves no doubt that it is the home of the Naughtons and their children, Christine and Billy. Their personal stamp prevails and the house is as beautiful and comfortable as any modern home.
At the same time, much of the past is preserved on this six-acre estate. There is a blacksmith shop close to the house that is even older than the main building. It once was the establishment of a master blacksmith who serviced much of “Old Warwick.” Not too far from the house is a monument raised to eight slaves who were part of the estate and lived in the large, airy third floor attic. John R. Waterman’s mother was a Robinson from South County and perhaps the slaves were brought form the large South County Plantations. This was a bit unusual, as the large Quaker population in Rhode Island frowned upon slavery. Led by Moses Brown and Samuel Hopkins, Rhode Island passed a Gradual Emancipation Act in 1784, and most slaves in the state were freed by 1807.
From the outside the house looks very much as it did in 1800. There are no wires above ground to intrude upon its beauty and the clapboards have been carefully restored to the original color. The basic structure of the house has been preserved throughout the years. The farm, of course, is much smaller than when John died in 1876 at 94 years of age. When he was asked as to what he attributed his long life, he replied, “To eating frugally and not drinking.”
When Gardner Killey received the farm for $10, it still extended as far as West Shore Road. Some of our readers may even remember the Killey Farm of the early 20th century. In the 1920s the house went to Alroy Cooper, who did a great deal towards modernizing the house without damaging the architectural integrity. Some of the changes in the home resulted in the dividing of the second floor ballroom into bedrooms and in changing the “borning room” to a modern bathroom.
Most of the credit for turning the house into the beautiful home that it is goes to the Naughtons. Like John Waterman, they have a feeling for what is good in a home and, like the old gentleman, they are very active in the community. Eileen, former president of the Warwick Historical Society, hopes to help others restore some of the fine old houses in Warwick. Both Naughtons give a great deal of themselves towards making Warwick and Rhode Island a better place to live. The “old house” is still there at 100 Homestead Road and once again its inhabitants are an important part of our progress.
The John R. Waterman house/Lockwood Brook Farm is today a very active, vibrant dwelling. Along with Eileen and Bill Naughton, it is the home of their son, William, his wife, Heidi, and their three children, Billy, 9, Colin, 8, and Kaitlyn, 4. Their is much activity now as there was then, and the atmosphere of a farm brings us back to the early 19th century.
Very important is the fact that the people who live in the house have a great interest in education, agriculture and a sincere desire to make life better for the people of Warwick. So many of the traditions and accomplishment of John Waterman, as he pioneered efforts to establish public education and to create a healthy environment through his farm, are still the main goals of Eileen Naughton. As a representative in the General Assembly, Eileen is as enthusiastic and determined to bring back the old values and to create hope for the future.
Our interview with Rep. Naughton brought to life many interesting facts. The Naughtons grow special grasses to feed the sheep, and Eileen told Terry and me that the sheep do not destroy the grasses but instead keep the land weed-free. Eileen’s interests vary with many different types of agriculture, including the fantastic potential of farming crops fro the sea.
Rep. Naughton is the chairman of the House Finance Committee and now is chairing the committee on health. As Eileen recounted what is happening in the state, you can really catch her excitement over the work done at the Narragansett Marine Lab, the new studies in agriculture and nutrition in the fields that have become so important as time goes on. She feels that we had a great thing going in the 19th century and now she feels we’re getting even more that that in the 21st century and that Rhode Island is making a fantastic contribution to the rest of the world.
The lovely home, so beautifully built by Dutch craftsmen, continues to remain one of the visual reminders of the beauty and architecture of the 19th century. The house and farm are on the historical register, and both have been very well-preserved as both Bill and Eileen have a keen sense of history and value of the accomplishments of the past.
We are very fortunate that the Naughtons have contributed so much to the John R Waterman house. It is a tribute to Warwick’s past and to the efforts of the Naughton family.
The next series of columns will be about another great historic home, the Carder Tavern in Pawtuxet.