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Observation Tower, Hannah Robinson Park

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1936, Rhode Island Department of Public Works. 1986–1987, rebuilt. Junction of Tower Hill Rd. (U.S. 1) and Route 138

A stone lookout tower existed at this elevated site for some time from around 1759, and there are reports of later short-lived towers as well. The state erected its tower with the completion of Route 138, shortly after the donation of the area as a small state recreational area. It was named for the legend of a woman who regularly met her lover at the big rock at the base of the tower, with ultimately tragic consequences. A burly, tapering frame of tree trunks (or telephone poles) envelopes several tiers of viewing platforms, with the metal connecting devices as much a part of visible action as the logs. This is a completely rebuilt and re-engineered version of the original, which deteriorated over time. It was closed to the public during World War II and manned as a lookout. On a clear day, the principal view across Narragansett Bay over Conanicut Island (Jamestown) to Aquidneck Island (Newport) is impressive. It also provides a fine sense of the land- and seascape which the Narragansett Planters and then estates like Kymbolde along the Post Road enjoyed—minus the subdivisions which now patch the view. Added attraction: its only cost is the climb.

The separation of the double traffic lanes of Bridgetown Road by a median landscape strip in 1930 was the first instance of this kind of highway treatment in Rhode Island. Designed both to separate opposing lines of traffic and as a dignified approach to the Jamestown Bridge, it was referred to at the time as “pairway pavement construction.”)

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Observation Tower, Hannah Robinson Park", [South Kingstown, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-SK23.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 387-387.

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