November 23, 2014
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Historic Homes
Peter Greene House continued
Don D'Amato and Terry Spencer

Today we are happy to report that the Peter Greene house in Conimicut at the corner of West Shore Rd. and Economy Ave. is once again in good hands. Since Michael’s ownership of the house, it has had a number of different owners. Unfortunately, not too long ago the home was abandoned and, as a result of the ravages of time, with the wind and rain and vandalism took it toll.

Fortunately, in 2008 Adele Anthony became very interested in it and found out the house had been abandoned and was up for foreclosure and contacted the necessary people to purchase it. Adele and Dennis Pacheco have put in many long hours of hard work to bring it back to the pristine condition and restore an important part of our heritage.

Adele and Dennis have fallen in love with the house and have gone far beyond a simple restoration to give us another example of what can be done to an old historic home that looked as if, at one point, it had to be demolished.

Terry and I asked Adele what gave her the tremendous interest in history. She said it goes back to the time when she traced her ancestry back and found out she is a descendent of William Harris, who was with Roger Williams in 1636 and was one of the founding fathers of Rhode Island. Later, she met Dennis and found out that he is very much interested in history and of the Revolutionary War period and had taken part in a number of Revolutionary War battle reenactments. Since that time she has joined Dennis by participating in some of the reenactments with the group out of Putnam, Conn., which portrays the 9th Regiment Afoot by doing most of the cooking when they camp out.

Dennis had found that his interest was really heightened when in the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 his brother’s boat was used by a group portraying the British in one of the reenactments and Dennis decided that he really wanted to be a part of it all. For a number of years he belonged to the Pawtuxet Rangers and the group out of Putnam. He joined the group because of the camping and various activities. Eventually, he realized he couldn’t serve both groups adequately, so he decided to go with the Putnam group.

When Terry and I interviewed Dennis on Oct. 22, we found out they were putting the flooring in the ell. The original ell was in such deplorable condition that it had to be torn down and replaced. Dennis went on to tell us that the first contractor to work on the 1751 building had to raise the structure to replace the entire sill, as it rotted away over time. This was a huge undertaking. The flooring in the front entrance had to be replaced because it was in such poor condition it was falling through. The windows had to be painted and many of them had to be re-glazed. They had to replace the concrete stairs using a jackhammer to break up the concrete. Fortunately, they discovered the original front steps at the back of the house placed there for some unknown reason. Even with modern machinery, the stairs were so heavy they were difficult to transport. We can only imagine the difficulty it took to do this in the 18th century.

After the steps were placed at the front of the house, Adele and Dennis were so pleased they fit perfectly there was no doubt this was right where the steps belonged. The front doorway had to be replaced as the ravages of time destroyed their beauty. Among the many things that had to be replaced on the outside were the gutters. The outside shingles also had to be replaced clapboards.

Once we went inside the house we were so amazed to learn they all were in working condition. More work had to be done with the chimneys. The beautiful fireplace and beehive oven in the keeping room are now in such good condition that Adele prefers to do her cooking and baking there. One of the big improvements in this room, which has so much use, came when Adele and Dennis found some 20-inch wide boards to replace the five-inch worn boards. The keeping room is as versatile in its usage as it was in the original house.

Starting in 2008 Adele and Dennis rolled up their sleeves and began the difficult, almost seemingly impossible task of putting the house in excellent condition. This amazed not only their friends but also their neighbors in Conimicut who thought it was only a question of time before the house either collapsed or was torn down.

Unexpected problems arose that would have devastated a less hearty and devoted couple. To their amazement, the house they were living in in Pawtuxet had been sold and, long before they intended to, they moved into the Peter Greene house. This became very complicated, as the old electric wiring had to be removed. With no electricity, there was no heat or light and it was like camping. They had to use the fireplace for heat and for doing their cooking. Instead of being dismayed they found they enjoyed the experience. They felt as if they were back in the 18th century living the way Peter Greene and his family must have done. The story of the Peter Greene house in 2011 will be continued.


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