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Alton Jones Campus, University of Rhode Island

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c. 1830, Parker Farm. 1930s with c. 1965 additions, W. Alton Jones hunting and fishing estate (now University of Rhode Island Conference Center). End of Matteson Plain Rd. (center open only to conferees)
  • Alton Jones Campus, University of Rhode Island (John M. Miller)

This campus covers 2,300 acres of woods, fields, and ponds and includes two complexes of architectural interest. First, the road winds past Parker Farm, including a two-and-one-half-story Greek Revival house and an impressive complement of early twentieth-century farm buildings. Once the Parker District School (destroyed by fire) and facilities for the town poor farm were also on the preserve. Finally, the road terminates at the luxurious hideaway where W. Alton Jones relaxed from his duties as president of Cities Service Petroleum. The estate, now a University of Rhode Island conference center, focuses on two lodges: Whispering Pines, built for the Jones family, and Nettles, for their visitors, both overlooking a scenic pond. Whispering Pines, a blown-up version of a log bungalow, is among the best examples of rustic work in the state. A plaque in the upstairs master bedroom celebrates a visit by President Eisenhower. The university has made a few sympathetic additions since acquiring the estate in 1965 as a gift from the foundation Jones established in his name. A spur road leads off to an environmental studies complex, which wins no architectural prizes for environmental concern. Finally, the estate also contains the barely visible remains of the Bela Clapp Acid Factory, which once derived acetic acid from wood harvested in local forests. Trundled by wagon to the nearest railroad station in Greene, the hogsheads of acid were shipped principally to the B. B. and R. Knight textile mills in Riverpoint, Natick, and Arctic. (This history explains how the university's environmental studies program eventually found a location on Acid Factory Creek.) Jones's fishing lake was once the factory's millpond.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Alton Jones Campus, University of Rhode Island", [West Greenwich, 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, 343-343.

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