Logo   John Brown House, Providence RI
One of the fanciest historic houses on College Hill, the late-Georgian mansion constructed in 1786 now belongs to the Rhode Island Historical Society.




Proclaimed by John Quincy Adams to be "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have seen on this continent," this restored house-museum at 52 Power Street, corner of Benefit Street (tel 401-331-8593) was built in 1786. It reveals the prosperity of post-Revolutionary Providence and houses an outstanding collection of furnishings and decorative arts.

John Brown (1736-1803) was a farmer, shipowner, merchant, slave-trader, privateer and statesman whose ships plied the seas both east and west out of Narragansett Bay and ultimately made him a wealthy man.

In 1764, John Brown, along with his brothers Moses and Nicholas, and several Providence clergymen, established "the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" which was later renamed Brown University.

In 1775, Brown rechristened his ship Katy to be the Providence and sold it to the revolutionary Continental American government—the first ship in what would become the United States Navy.

The Brown family had been prominent in Providence commerce and industry since the early 1700s. John's brother, Moses, joined with Samuel Slater to set up the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in America in 1790, now known as Slater Mill.

In 1794, the United States Congress passed a law against the slave trade. In 1797 Brown was the first slave-trader to be prosecuted under the law. He lost, and forfeited one of his ships.

From 1799 to 1801, John Brown served as a congressman in the US House of Representatives.

Today the John Brown House, maintained by the Rhode Island Historical Society, is a repository for documents, artifacts and artworks relating to Rhode Island history, society and culture.

John Brown House Museum
52 Power Street at Benefit Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02906
Tel: 401-273-7507

—by Tom Brosnahan

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John Brown House Museum, Providence RI

The John Brown House, on the Brown University campus on College Hill in Providence RI.

Plaque on the John Brown House Museum, Providence RI

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