Main Street, Warren, Rhode Island

Warren, Rhode Island – Main Street

Main Streets 2017: Rhode Island

Main Street, Warren, Rhode Island
Main Streets 2017: Rhode Island
Main Street, Warren, Rhode Island Main Streets 2017: Rhode Island

Local food, active recreation, and hands-on community-building define downtown life in the smallest town in America’s smallest state. And Main Street, also known as Rte. 114, runs through the center of it all.

“Galleries, shops, and theaters dot the historic district, while redevelopment of the old American Tourister factory promises new possibilities,” noted Boston Globe correspondent Megan Lisagor Stoessell in a 2017 article, “Warren, R.I. Is Where It’s At.” “Already the options for sophisticated dining and drinking are multiplying,” she added, with growing local businesses “breathing life into empty buildings against a backdrop of boatyards and farms.”

The local food scene is being nurtured on Main Street, where the nonprofit Hope & Main is nurturing new culinary businesses in a century-old former schoolhouse. “Hope & Main’s nonprofit incubator program supports dozens of food-related companies, including specialty food product makers, artisanal bakers, caterers, food trucks, farmers, personal chefs and nutritionists,” says the organization’s website.

Warren itself is a historic community, with one of the nation’s oldest working waterfronts, a strong Native American heritage, and a relatively large Latino population compared to surrounding towns. Four former downtown industrial buildings have already been renovated into retail markets, craft workshops and offices. Throughout the compact downtown, “a robust art scene has formed, especially around the preservation of historic sites,” noted the American Planning Association when it named this one of the nation’s Great Neighborhoods.

A favorite local arts venue on Main is the Galactic Theatre at Podsnappery. Owned and run by musician David Podsnap, this is an intimate spot where up to 50 people at a time can catch a film, grab a drink or dance to live and DJ’d music. Nearby on Market Street is the 2nd Story Theatre, host to live plays and theater-related events.

Bristol has an art museum and several downtown galleries, and the arts are also front and center in several regular events. Bristol/Warren Art Night brings artists, arts advocates and business owners together for educational programs, with open studio tours once a month from June through September. The Warren Quahog Seafood & Art Festival features fresh seafood and original artwork — what could be better? — on a waterfront park in July.

“Warren isn’t following a trend,” said local business owner Sara Ossana in the Globe profile. “It’s just people doing what they love.”

Primary photo taken by Marcbela
Town Hall photo taken by Flickr user cmh2315fl.

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Bristol, Rhode Island – Hope Street

Main Streets 2016: Rhode Island

In Bristol, Rhode Island, there’s no double yellow line painted down the center of Hope Street, even though the town’s central street is also a state highway. No, the road paint here is literally red, white and blue. That only stands to reason — because this town boasts an unbroken series of July Fourth celebrations dating to 1785, making its Independence Day observances the oldest continuing event of its kind in the nation.

Perhaps it’s fitting that Bristol doesn’t observe the country’s beginnings on a single day. It starts celebrating on the Town Common on June 14, Flag Day — which is, actually, preceded by Vintage Baseball and Old-Fashioned Days on June 13 — and it concludes on July Fourth with the Military, Civic and Firemen’s Parade and, that evening, the Fourth of July Ball. The overall celebration draws some 200,000 spectators to a town of just 23,000 people.

Clearly, Bristol takes its history seriously. This is the place, after all, that was the site of both the first and last battles of King Philip’s War in 1675-76, four years before the town was officially founded. Today the town center, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features impressively well-preserved buildings that speak eloquently of Bristol’s rich heritage

It’s a heritage built on both water and land. Bristol is nearly surrounded by salt water, with frontage on both Narragansett and Mount Hope bays. Bristol Harbor’s active deepwater port supports boating of all kinds; there’s even a kayak trail, and a waterfront bicycle path. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company on the waterfront built boats for the Navy and America’s Cup yachts. The Herreschoff Marine Museum/America’s Cup Hall of Fame is on Burnside Street, and a monument on Hope Street notes the company’s many contributions. Also on Hope is Linden Place, an 1810 Federal-style mansion that’s now a museum of community history.

Many of the shops, restaurants and other attractions on Hope Street reflect the city’s maritime tradition. The Bristol community of today is something to celebrate, too. The city has been named one of the nation’s best places to raise a family by both Family Circle and Bloomberg Business Week magazines.

Fourth of July parade photo courtesy of Manny Correira

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