kgravelle@ricentral.com

COVENTRY — Built in the late 1600s in the village of Washington, the Paine house over the centuries has served as a meeting place, a tavern and a home. Today, more than 300 years into its life, it’s a museum, kept to preserve the rich history of western Rhode Island.

“Our forefathers built this place, and it’s important just to know what the people who came before us did,” Bob Chorney, of the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society, said Monday of the Paine House Museum, which will kick off its 2019 season this Friday. 

Built by Samuel Bennett circa 1691, the Paine house played a significant role in Coventry’s formation. In 1741, after the house was inherited by Bennett’s son, the first town meeting and election took place at the house. It was sold the following year to Francis Brayton, who built an addition and opened a tavern out of it. 

The house was eventually sold in 1866 to Phebe Paine and Mary Mathewson. It remained in the Paine family until 1953, when it was donated to the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society. 

“And we’ve maintained it ever since,” Chorney said of the house, which was added in 1974 to the National Historic Register. 

To celebrate its storied past, the historical society has planned some exciting events for the season. 

“It’s to preserve history, it’s to try to get young people involved and to know what happened in Coventry,” Chorney said of the upcoming events. 

On June 14, the historical society will hold its annual Flag Day celebration. Members of the public are invited to bring their faded and tattered American flags to be retired during an official ceremony led by local Korean War veterans. Following the ceremony, a volunteer archivist will offer a flag presentation, and tours of the Paine house will be available.

Another event, which is new this year and will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, is a “quilt and textile day.” Visitors will be able to view a display of historic quilts and learn about weaving from the RI Spinners Guild. 

“They’re going to show how to spin wool and do different things with the old-fashioned spinning wheels,” Chorney said of the event, which will cost $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and will include children’s activities and light refreshments.   

The Paine House Museum will also be the site of several paranormal investigations throughout the 2019 season. Led by the Rhode Island Society for the Examination of Unusual Phenomena (RISEUP), the next investigation will take place June 22, and additional dates have been scheduled in August, September and October. 

The Paine House Museum, located at 7 Station St., Coventry, will be open for tours every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting this week, and beginning in July on the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children, with all proceeds going toward the home’s continued preservation. 

“We’re a non-profit, so we need it just to keep the house going,” said Chorney, who added that the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society is always in search of new members.

To learn more or to reserve a spot for one of the paranormal investigations, visit westernrihistory.org.  

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