R.I.’s oldest home for sale at $540K following $600K renovation project

RENOVATIONS ON A HOME at 147 Great Road in Lincoln, considered the oldest home in Rhode Island, were recently completed for a total of $600,000 and the property is now listed for sale at $539,900. / COURTESY PRESERVE RHODE ISLAND

LINCOLN – Rhode Island’s oldest home, a colonial-style “stone-ender” built in 1696 at 1147 Great Road, was recently listed for sale at $539,900 following a renovation project that cost $60,000 more than that, according to Preserve Rhode Island, a 65-year-old nonprofit that fights to save historic properties.

Earlier this year, Preserve Rhode Island announced that it intended to sell the 2,448-square-foot Valentine Whitman House in conjunction with a $600,000 renovation plan, after the nonprofit acquired the property for $1 from the town in 2021.

The grant-funded renovation of the “Crown Jewel of Stone-Enders” was completed earlier this month, including a new wood-shake roof, new cedar shingles on the sidewalls, new electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, restoration of original wood floors, and several other improvements such as a modernized kitchen, according to Preserve Rhode Island.

Heritage Restoration Inc., a Providence-based contractor specializing in old and historic buildings, completed the renovation project. A “preservation easement” protecting the architectural integrity of the home was made a condition of the sale, the nonprofit said.

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“The Valentine Whitman project is the culmination of a lifetime of work in the Greater Rhode Island historic preservation community,” said Rob Cagnetta, president of Heritage Restoration. “Stitching the 17th-century and an early 18th-century remodel with modern technology and amenities requires creativity and flexibility but with Preserve RI’s partnership, we believe we struck the right balance.”

Preserve Rhode Island also used this occasion to reveal results of its new field study on stone-enders, which are historic homes unique to Rhode Island distinguished by a massive limestone chimney that makes up one of four walls.

The report concluded that there are more of the “First Period” Colonial-era structures in the state than previously known, some of them “hiding in plain sight,” after it was commonly thought that as few as nine stone-enders were left intact in Rhode Island. Preserve Rhode Island said its research “confirms that at least 14 stone-enders remain standing in some form, and there may be as many as 24.”

Rhode Island’s oldest home was built by Valentine Whitman Jr., according to the nonprofit, after receiving the land as a gift from his father, who was a friend of famed Rhode Island Colonial leader Roger Williams. The stone-ender was most recently occupied in 1990 by Helen Whalen, who stayed there until her death that year, before it was later sold to the town and became a museum with weekend tours provided by a group called The Friends of the Valentine House.

Before deciding to make it into a single-family residence again, Preserve Rhode Island said other alternatives were considered, including turning the Valentine Whitman House into a vacation rental.

“Our philosophy is to return historic properties back into productive use, which ensures they are valued and properly maintained,” said Valerie Talmage, executive director of Preserve Rhode Island. “The sale also allows Preserve RI to recoup our investment so we can take on more projects like this in the future.”

The home and the 1.1-acre property were last valued by town assessors in 2022 to be worth $483,500, according to public records.

The property was listed and is being marketed for sale by Residential Properties Ltd.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer.

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