Roger Williams National Memorial
The Roger Williams National Memorial is a landscaped urban park located on a common lot of the original settlement of Providence, Rhode Island, established by Roger Williams in 1636, bounded by North Main, Canal, and Smith Streets, and Park Row. The memorial commemorates the life of the co-founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his beliefs, and he founded this colony as a refuge where all could come to worship as their conscience dictated without interference from the state. This park is the 20th smallest national park in the nation.
The Roger Williams National Memorial is a 4.5-acre (1.8 ha) park located near the eastern bank of the Moshassuck River, east of the Rhode Island State House and north of downtown Providence. It stands at the base of College Hill, a National Historic Landmark District that is the city's oldest and most historically significant area. It is separated from the river by Canal Street, and bounded on the other three sides by Smith Street, Park Row, and North Main Street. The southern portion of the park has a relatively open grassy area ringed by trees, while the northern portion is more landscaped, with the visitor center housed in the Antram-Gray House at the northeast corner, and a parking area on the west side. Major features in the northern section include the Bernon Grove and the site of the spring which prompted Williams to select the site.
The park's visitor center features an exhibit and video about Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island, as well as information about historic sites in Providence.
The national memorial was authorized on October 22, 1965. The memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966, and the site was developed in the late 1970s after land acquisition was completed. It was the only unit of the National Park System in Rhode Island until 2014 when the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park was designated as a National Park Service unit. (Touro Synagogue National Historic Site in Newport is an affiliated area of the National Park Service, but not formally part of the system.)
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