The Story of Green Hill
by Sam Braun
The Green Hill area has evolved significantly over the past two centuries. It was once a place where Native Americans lived, then it became a popular destination for summer beach cottages, and today it is a thriving community. This article will explore the history of Green Hill, from its early days to the present. You will learn about the people who lived there, the structures that once stood, and how the shoreline has changed over time.
Here are some of the key points that will be covered in the article:
- Native American settlement: The Green Hill area was first inhabited by Native Americans. They lived in the area for centuries before being displaced by European settlers.
- Summer beach cottages: In the early 1800s, Green Hill became a popular destination for summer beach cottages. Wealthy families from Boston and other nearby cities built cottages on the shore.
- Modern community: Today, Green Hill is a thriving community. It is home to a mix of residents, including families, retirees, and professionals. The community has a strong sense of identity and is known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people, and relaxed lifestyle.
Additional Timeline Data and Pictures
Before the 38 hurricane
Thanks to John and Mary Kegley for their recent contribution of the photos posted below, which show a north view of Green Hill Avenue and a view of the houses on the west side of the street.
This photo (clearly a postcard) was taken prior to the 1938 hurricane. The first house on the left, with the wrap-around porch, was not present in 1940 when Chester Beals bought the property at the end of Green Hill Avenue. According to Nancy Beals, when her father bought the property, there was no house on the lot. The house belonged to a family named Kendall.
These pictures show the same house before and after the 1938 hurricane. The house sits in what is now the Beal’s driveway. The upper picture looks north up Green Hill Ave. All the houses beyond the destroyed one seen in the upper pboto survive to the present.
This house was repaired and still stands.
These photos, courtesy of Carl Lundberg (who later became president of GHCA), were from the taller of the two towers that were located in the area between the Beals’ home and the parking lot. Both pictures are looking westward.
The picture on the left shows the houses on the ocean side of Browning Street and Rosebriar Avenue. The two houses at the right center are located at the entrance of what became Surfside. The house in the lower right corner is Joe Conley’s home.
The picture on the right is a view of the beach looking west toward Charlestown. It is quite barren except for the first buildings of what became Brogi’s beach pavilion. In addition, you can see the utility poles which ran from Matunuck to Charlestown for the beach cottages along the shore which were destoyed in 1938.
The tower in this photo provided tremendous vistas to whole area. As far as we know, this photo is likely dated from the late forties. You can see the Kegley and Wunderlich houses in the foreground. The Beals’ house can be seen through the porch of the Kegley home. The Pingree house can be seen behind the garage. Later, the Pingree house was moved a short distance north, where it is still located.
This is a view looking north up Green Hill Ave. Note the lack of trees and brush, which later grew to obscure ocean views.
The next two pictures provide a view looking west along the beach.
Joe Tenori, from the Coast Guard, provided the next two pictures. Both pictures offer much earlier views of the Green Hill Lifesaving Station, which appears to be just west of the parking lot at the end of Coast Guard Avenue.
The photo on the left was part of a piece that was published in the Providence Journal in 1952. To the west of the Beals’ home, you can see the smaller of the two towers. The towers were built before Hurricane Carol in 1958. After the hurricane, the stone retaining wall was added in an effort to mitigate the damage left from Hurricane Carol in 1958. The 1971 photo on the right shows the Beals’ lawn as it appears today.
You occasionally hear of the “parking lot beach” (Hill Association) referred to as the “patio beach”. Old timers still call it that because there was once this wood deck in the dunes at beach. Actually it existed over what is now the beach and there were dunes beyond it and beach beyond that. The current concrete pathway existed back then and went farther out. From there the pathway turned west at an angle, then a wooden ramp went up out to the deck. As kids we’d ride our bikes up on the deck to get a visual of the beach condition to report back home!
In this photo you can see in the distance the former GH Beach Club Building. It pretty much looked like that until hurricane Sandy destroyed it. The contemporary house to the right of that in the photo, was remodeled in the last 10-15 years and is now the green colonial at the foot of Rose Briar.