In 1888 this farm, known as the Oliver Watson-Teft Farm, became the site of the new State Agricultural School. The barn and outbuildings swiftly disappeared, but the 18th century farmhouse remained to serve a variety of functions as the Agricultural School grew and morphed into the University of Rhode Island.
“The farm consisted of about 140 acres of land, partially on a hill and rolling into the plain below. On the land stood a house, a large barn, and a number of small outbuildings, all in a great state of disrepair.“
—The University of Rhode Island: A History of Land-Grant Education in Rhode Island by Herman F. Eschenbacher.
In the early part of the 20th century Watson House was first the home of Lambada Chi fraternity and later a women’s dormitory; in the 1930s it became a tea room, then in the 1940s and early ’50s, it housed the College of Home Economics’ nursery school.
Several times over the years the old farmhouse was threatened with demolition only to be saved by community members who prized its history and who were willing to dig into their own pockets to keep it standing.
Today the Watson House—the oldest structure on the Kingston Campus—is a museum decorated and furnished in a rustic 18th century style.
And it is still receiving support from local history buffs who hope that you and your family will join them for a Watson House benefit festival on Sunday, July 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The day will include Watson House tours, an antique automobile show, arts and crafts demonstration, live music, a food court, and a silent auction. Free parking for the event is available in the Chafee lot.