Walk through Pawtucket history

Walk through Pawtucket history

Preservation Society offers detailed guides for walking tours

PAWTUCKET – Explore the history of Pawtucket’s neighborhoods this fall with one or more self-guided walking tours, provided by the Preservation Society of Pawtucket.

From Darlington and downtown to Slater Park and Quality Hill, the Preservation Society offers written guides for a dozen walking tours around different parts of the city. Find the guides, which include directions, photographs and images, and detailed historical descriptions of the buildings and sites, at www.pawtucketpreservation.org/programs .

“We really want people to use them,” Barbara Zdravesky, president of the Preservation Society, told The Valley Breeze. “Just learn more about the city and get out there and see what’s there.”

The tours include Church Hill District, Darlington Neighborhood, Downtown Pawtucket, Fairlawn Neighborhood, Mineral Spring Cemetery, Oak Grove Cemetery, Oak Hill Neighborhood, Personally Pawtucket, Pleasant View Neighborhood, Quality Hill Neighborhood, Slater Park, and Woodlawn Neighborhood. There’s also a Central Falls tour.

Each walk is approximately one to one and a half miles long, said Zdravesky, who added that the purpose of the tours is “for people to learn about historical resources here in the city,” which will hopefully get them more invested in preserving those resources.

Zdravesky, who hosts guided tours, said she put together the information for her own notes but decided to publish them for people to do on their own. “(People) walk by or drive by buildings or sites all the time and don’t know what they are,” she said.

The walking tour called Personally Pawtucket is the best snapshot of the city, she said. Starting at Old Slater Mill, it includes stops such as the Old Post Office, 1 Summer St., Pawtucket City Hall, 137 Roosevelt Ave., Exchange Street Bridge, Tolman High School, 150 Exchange St., Greek Orthodox Church, 97 Walcott St., and many more. She said it grabs pieces from several of the other walks and offers a “nice broad perspective.”

The Church Hill District is kind of obscure, she said, guessing many people don’t know where Church Hill is. “It’s a nice little section of the city” around Park Place that combines residential and industrial sites, she said. Included on that tour are Park Place Common/Wilkinson Park, St. Paul’s Church at 50 Park Place, Church Hill Grammar School at 79 Park Place, as well as the Campbell Machine Shop at the corner of Commerce and Main, which was the last structure to be built in the district in 1889, according to the guide. It was home of the sewing machine invented by Duncan H. Campbell, which was the first of its kind, capable of 400 stitches per minute.

A resident of Woodlawn, she said she likes the Woodlawn Neighborhood walk, which includes sites such as the Conant Street Bridge and the Mineral Spring Cemetery. “It relates to the overall story of Pawtucket” with themes such as the growth of industry and the diverse ethnicity of the city, she said.

“I like them all. I wrote them all,” she said, laughing. “Everyone likes Quality Hill. That’s where the big pretty houses are.”

The couple of cemetery walks might be a little more difficult to follow, she said, since those involve mostly looking at grave markers but “there’s a story behind almost every marker in the cemetery.” The Mineral Spring Cemetery tour includes a memorial to Samuel Slater, the graves of his two wives, Hannah Wilkinson (1744-1812) and Esther Parkinson (1778-1859), and his son Samuel, Jr. (1802-1821), as well as several members of the Jenks family.

Zdravesky said she’s hoping to add a couple more walks in the near future including one around Pinecrest. The tours are not all-inclusive, she said, and if folks have suggestions for sites that could be added, email pawtucketpreservation@gmail.com .

“People who have lived here longer than me might have ideas about different places,” she said.

The former Spiritualist Lyceum on Montgomery Street is one of the sites along a self-guided walking tour offered by the Preservation Society of Pawtucket.