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Old Town House

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1878. Ten Rod Rd. at Town House Rd.

Across Nooseneck Road, Ten Rod Road abruptly turns to gravel for roughly two and one-half miles, which give a sense of ancient conditions. A little farther east, it intersects with the north-south diagonal of the other major early transportation route, originally the toll turnpike to New London, which is also gravel. Just east of this historic grand crossing at the heart of Exeter is the boarded-up Old Town House. It served as town hall and administrative center before those functions were moved in the mid-twentieth century to a nondescript building about two and one-half miles to the east, in the village of Lawtonville. A bare, barnlike clapboard building on a granite foundation, it is marked as a public monument by no more than an extra-large door topped by a sign and a projecting molding. Here in the dusk and the woods, disuse (at least as this is written) makes the sense of the past palpable. A little farther and Ten Rod Road returns to pavement with its rechristened status as Victory Highway (Route 102), although natives tend to stay with the old name.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Old Town House", [Exeter, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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