Rhode Island’s oldest home to be sold and reoccupied this summer

A CROWD GATHERS outside the Valentine Whiteman House at 1147 Great Road in Lincoln, which is the oldest home in Rhode Island and is set to go back on the market in June following a $600,000 renovation, with a “preservation easement” protecting the architectural integrity of the historic home a condition of the sale. / COURTESY PRESERVE RHODE ISLAND

LINCOLN – Preserve Rhode Island, a 65-year-old nonprofit that fights to save historic properties, recently announced that the state’s oldest home will become occupied once again following a $600,000 renovation.

Preserve Rhode Island said extensive repair and rehabilitation work on the historic, 2,448-square-foot Valentine Whitman House in Lincoln is reaching the finish line, after the nonprofit acquired the property from the town last year.

The 1147 Great Road home, which was constructed in 1696, will be put on the market this month, the nonprofit said, but a “preservation easement” protecting the architectural integrity of the home will be made a condition of the sale.

“Selling this important house, with an easement attached, will ensure that a family who appreciates the historic value of this home will love and protect it for generations to come,” said Valerie Talmage, executive director of Preserve Rhode Island. “We are proud to help the town of Lincoln find new purpose for this property and set the Valentine Whitman House on a sustainable course for its next 300 years.”

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The colonial-style home is considered a “stone-ender,” meaning that one side of the house is made of a large stone chimney, in this case covering most of the front of the building, with an entrance built into the rear of the home. The property 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 home was last occupied in 1990 by Helen Whalen, who stayed there until her death that year, before it was later sold to the town and the property became a house museum with weekend tours provided by a group called The Friends of the Valentine House, the nonprofit said.

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.

Preserve Rhode Island received funding for the project from The 1772 Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Ocean State Charities and the sponsorship of the Beacon Hill Pole Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

The renovations, which were completed by the Providence-based Heritage Restoration Inc., include a new wood shake roof; new cedar shingles on the sidewalls, covering approximately 75% of the building; restoration of original wood floors; repair of plaster walls; new electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; new storm windows; new paint for the house and garage in a “historically appropriate color”; a new custom-designed kitchen; renovations of bathrooms and the addition of bathrooms; and a new, modern laundry space.

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 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.”

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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