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Sprague Mansion

1351 Cranston Street

History:

The Sprague Mansion was built in two parts, each representing in its own way, the prosperity of the Sprague Family which came to Cranston as early as 1712.

The small family homestead was constructed in the late 18th century. Featuring a central chimney, low ceilings, simple woodwork, it was a spacious type of home of the well-to-do farmer and merchant of the post-Revolutionary era.

Over the years there have been many changes to the Mansion but the most dominate changes were made in the 1864 by Col. Amasa Sprague when he upgraded the house from the simple homestead to an elegant home where he entertained his social contacts.The new addition included a wide hall lighted by a fan-shaped window above the entrance door.

Instead of the plain straight steep stairs of the old part of the house, the staircase in the 1860's part of the mansion is wide and winding. The woodwork of the balusters and railings is carved and decorative.

The mantles of the fireplaces in the new section of the house are also representative of the times, Italian marble graces the fireplace in the grand ball room on the first floor where the Sprague's would have entertained many visitors from the financial, political and sporting circles.

To compliment our ball room is a 1880 Steinway Centennial Concert Grand Piano. This nearly nine feet long piano was a gift of Shaw Safe Family of Newport and has a history. It was purchased in November of 1880 by William Gammell, a Brown Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature and History and Political Economy. Professor Gammell served as President of the Rhode Island Historical Society

Two large bedrooms on the second and third floors replaced the more numerous small bedrooms of the old part of the homestead. The rooms on the third floor on the old side of the mansion were small and many and used by William Sprague II to house many of the men who worked in nearby "Sprague's Woods" and at the Sprague Print Works during the 1830's.

The most striking feature of the mansion at first glance is the cupola high atop the new section of the mansion. From here the Sprague's viewed their panorama of Cranston holdings, the orchards; vineyards; woodlands; reservoir; a railroad; a horsecar company; the Cranston Print Works Manufacturing Company and its two villages of mill houses, complete with a school, community store; boarding houses, meeting house, post office, and counting house, sometimes called the Cranston Bank and a horse racing track. They were Masters of all they surveyed.



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