While court records show that the original Rehoboth area was settled as early as 1625, the Newman Church congregation was organized in 1643 by the Reverend Samuel Newman of Weymoth, MA. The first Newman Meeting House, which served also as a meeting hall for village business, was built across the street from today’s church in the center of what was the Ring of the Green. When King Philip burnt the first meeting house in 1676, a second and later a third were built.
Newman, who was born in England in 1602 and graduated from Trinity College, was prosecuted for nonconformity and came to the Weymouth colony south of Boston in 1636. He remained in Weymouth for four years but “…could not easily become reconciled to the spirit which was fast growing in Weymouth, so he resolved to emigrate….” Newman, an Episcopalian, took about 40 families with him and established the town of Rehoboth in 1643 and built their first church at the center of the “Ring of the Green” across the street from the present building. There is a stone indicating that site on Newman Avenue across from the present church. After the original building was destroyed in the King Philip War in 1676, two subsequent buildings were constructed. The present building was built at its current location c.1810 using wood from the previous building and then raised onto the current foundation in 1890.
When redesigned in 1890, a portico was built over the front door. The grave of William Daggett sits in the cemetery across the street.
Not only was the church/meeting house located in the center of the Ring of the Green, but also the burial ground for the community. Stones in the cemetery date back to 1658. The oldest one, that of William Carpenter is simply marked with his initials and the year of his death.A small number of other graves from the 17th century can be found in the cemetery or searched on the Find-A-Grave website.
A bronze plaque on a monument stone sits in front of the cemetery across the street from the church.
(Click on the plaque photo to enlarge)
Click here for a self-guided auto tour of the Ring of the Green.
Click here for the National Registry of Historic Places Nomination Form on East Providence.
Click here for the East Providence Historical Society web page on the Newman Church.
Click here for a description of the original settlement at the Ring of the Green.
Click here for the Church web site.
Click here for the Roger Williams National Memorial web site.