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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

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


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—,

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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