Green Hill – Written by Donald Sipes Spencer in July 1992

My love for Green Hill could have started before I was born, since my mother and father spent their honeymoon at a farm house (since burned) that was located at the top of the hill on the site of the old Army Towers.

Among the early residents at Green Hill were Capt Hooper at the Coast Guard Station, Ray Adams, the bird bath man who should have been a geologist, Harold Aust, Julia Ward and Howard Holburton and his wife.  A bit farther back on School House Road, but still in Green Hill was Mrs Valentine who did our weekly wash  and ironing(no electrical appliances in those days), the Brownings who supplied us with all of our meats,  vegetables, and milk, and the Holbertons who did all of our baking.  We hardly ever drove to town except to replace our staples, since it was a half-day trip to Wakefield by horse and buggy.

Our summer home, from June until November, was the Ward farm house – built in 1788 and is still standing.  It was then owned by Julia Ward’s parents, today Mrs. Roger Holden lives there.

Our trip began before daylight in the village of Phenix in the Town of West Warwick.  We traveled by horse and cariole with the fringe on the top.  My Uncle Winfield Himes, a druggist, and an assortment of relatives came along:  grandmother, aunt cousin, brother, etc.  The wagon was heavily loaded with our belongings for six months stay, sufficient provisions until we could replenish from our friends, the local farmer, shellfish from the ponds and fish from the ocean.

When we reached Larkins Pond, now the site of Girl Scout Camp Hoffman on Ministerial Road, we would unhitch the horse, lunch, rest and get ready for the long climb up the sandy hills, and our first view of our Atlantic Ocean.

The only buildings visible from Ward’s Pastures were to the east across Trustom Pond and on the beach at Moonstone.  The oldest was used by Ira Knight and family, the other by the Gee family and the only private home I have ever seen where the bedrooms were numbered from, as I remember, one to eight (a large family).  These buildings were destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, as were all summer homes on the beach at Green Hill, west of the Beal’s home.

Another somewhat vague recollection I have was the building of the U.S. Life Saving Station about 1908 or 1909.   All of the building materials were brought in by wagon from School House Road through the cow pastures up to the Ward farm and then down to the ocean front. There were also small key stations built upon the dune lines at Moonstone and Charlestown, and it was the duty of the Coast Guardsmen to patrol the distance by foot whenever visibility was poor during storms or fog.  In the early years of this century, when  there was much shipping on our waterways, our whole coast was patrolled from Maine to Florida in such manner.

There must be quite a few families who remember the army moving in during World War II erecting the metal building on site where the coast guard station had been dismantled, and insisting that every home be completely blacked out at night.  If a 1/2 inch of light was showing around a window you received a knock on the door and were told about it.  During the day, they did not interfere with our normal activities such as use of beach and ponds.

Green Hill had its greatest building boom after the ’38 hurricane and during the early forties.  It is one of the very few beaches situated well above sea level and therefore safe from tidal waves and hurricanes.  Some of the families who had homes at Charlestown that were lost in the 1938 Hurricane returned, bought land, and built here.  Among them were the Bristers, Haynes, Lorings and Beals.

                                                                        By Donald Sipes Spencer

                                                                        February 7, 1905 to July 21, 1992

One thought on “Green Hill – Written by Donald Sipes Spencer in July 1992

  1. Such a delightful account of the early days of Green Hill-our house on Rosebriar was built by the Mr. Adams mentioned in the essay, mostly out of random wood found and salvaged. My husband remembers the long trip to Green Hill from Rehoboth Ma in the early 1960s, before there was a rt. 95. The day after school ended for the summer break, his mother would pack up the 4 children, and the cats and head to the cottage for the summer.


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