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NRF Property Spotlight: Prescott Farm

Prescott Farm may be the best kept secret on Aquidneck Island. This 40-acre property is the largest open space park on the island and boasts not only multiple historic buildings, but also a rare double capacity windmill from 1812. Doris Duke purchased the property in 1969 with the intention of preserving the historic farmland and creating a space for a number of additional historic buildings that the Newport Restoration Foundation was in the process of rescuing from imminent demolition.

The only original building on the property is the impressive Nicholas-Overing House, built circa 1730. This formal 18th century building was home to the Overing family at the time of the American Revolution. British General Richard Prescott, the commander of the 6,000 British troops who occupied Newport during the Revolutionary War, decided to make the Overing’s house his country headquarters. It was here that Patriot commander Lt. Col. William Barton kidnapped General Prescott during a nighttime raid. Prescott was caught in only his night shirt and was not allowed to dress before being marched back to Narragansett Bay. This story spread rapidly and not only earned Prescott the nickname the Barefoot General but also resulted in Overing farm becoming colloquially known as Prescott Farm in homage to this early American victory.

Today Prescott Farm’s landscape harkens back to the rural Aquidneck Island of the 18th and 19th centuries, with gentle sloping land, fields lined with stonewalls and areas of scrub trees and brush. The farm is also home to both a kitchen garden and an herb garden which are tended to by a dedicated team from the University of Rhode Island’s Master Gardener program. These living laboratories marry colonial horticultural practices with more modern gardening techniques. Every year produce harvested from the gardens is donated to Lucy’s Hearth, a local women’s shelter on the island. Close to 700 pounds of food is donated every year.

The park is open year round daily from dawn until dusk. This season, Prescott Farm will be a site of community collaboration and engagement. During our new (and free!) Second Sunday programs, NRF will join forces with different community organizations across Aquidneck Island and beyond. These collaborations will highlight the expansive history and horticulture of the area as well as encourage exploration of the park’s nature trails, the historic windmill, and the work of URI’s Master Gardeners. Each month will feature a different community partner, theme, and activities.

NRF is excited to welcome Save the Bay for our next Second Sunday taking place on May 12 from 12:00 – 3:00 pm! They will be bringing their Traveling Touch Tank for visitors to get up close and personal with some new friends from the sea. Click here for more information about this program and upcoming monthly themes! Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to engage with your community and take advantage of Aquidneck Island’s best kept secret.

By Rachael Guadagni, Education & Public Engagement Assistant at Newport Restoration Foundation

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