Betsey Williams Cottage in Roger Williams Park open to public


    A historic home in Roger Williams Park is open to the public for the first time in decades. (WJAR)

    A historic home in Roger Williams Park is open to the public for the first time in decades.

    The 1700s cottage in Providence is known as the Betsey Williams Cottage and was once home to a member of the Williams family.

    Now, it's fully restored and open for tours.

    "The last person to live in this building, from what I read, was Betsey Williams herself and her sister," said architect Cornelis J. de Boer.

    It's a special moment for Trish Woodard, who is a direct descendant of Roger Williams.

    "I'm his 11th great-granddaughter through his daughter, Mercy, and the Waterman line," Woodard said. "Betsey was a distant cousin."

    The home was built in the late 1700s. About $240,000 in grant money has been invested to restore it.

    The restoration was funded by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and the Rhode Island Foundation's Campaign for Roger Williams Park.

    The public can now tour the first floor, which highlights the way of life on the Williams farm in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    "Betsey being the last one to own it before she deeded it in her will to the city of Providence," Woodard said.

    The second floor remains closed to the public.

    In February 2016, a pipe ruptured at the house, filling Betsey Williams Cottage with water.

    Architects said recent renovations have helped restore its original character.

    "And, hopefully preserve it for another generation or two," de Boer said.

    Although an official use for the cottage hasn't been figured out yet, Woodard said she's just glad to keep history and her heritage alive.

    "To let people know where we came from," Woodard said.

    The public is encouraged to share their ideas for the use of the house.

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