East Greenwich, Rhode Island

East Greenwich is the birthplace of the Kentish Guards, and also the 8th oldest town in Rhode Island and the county seat of Kent County. The town was founded in October 1677 by the General Assembly.

Today, it is one of the wealthiest municipalities in Rhode Island, and is considered a part of the Greater Boston combined statistical area. The waterfront of East Greenwich is home to plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs, and there is also boat parking and a public dock for fishing. There is even a dock with a small beach. Across from the coast is Goddard Memorial State Park, home to several beaches, including the popular Sandy Point which can be accessed from East Greenwich Cove.

The name

When the town was established in 1677, it was named after the town Greenwich in England (in the county of Kent).

In 1686, Greenwich, RI was renamed Dedford, but the name change was shortlived and the town reverted back to Greenwich again in 1689.

In 1741, the western three-quarters of the town, which were more rural, was set off as West Greenwich. The remaining one quarter, which had more of a town character, thus became East Greenwich.

Short info about East Greenwich

Coordinates: 41°39′N 71°29′W

County: Kent County

State: Rhode Island

Area: 16.71 square miles

Elevation: 200 ft

Population: 14,312 in the year 2020

Time zone: UTC-5 (Eastern / EST), UTC-4 (EDT) during the DST summer time period

Area code: 401

National historic places in East Greenwich

  • Armory of the Kentish Guards
  • Richard Briggs Farm
  • East Greenwich Historic District
  • Fry’s Hamlet Historic District
  • Kent County Courthouse
  • Massie Wireless Station
  • Tillinghast Mill Site
  • Tillinghast Road Historic District
  • Gen. James Mitchell Varnum House
  • Clement Weaver-Daniel Howland House
  • Col. Micah Whitmarsh House
  • Windmill Cottage

Early history of Greenwich

Establishment of Greenwich

Greenwich was founded by the Rhode Island General Assembly in October 1677, with the aim of strengtening the Rhode Island land claim, especially against Connecticut who had designs to push the border eastward to make Connecticut bigger. A total of 5,000 acres were designated for the new town, and lots were provided to settlers who agreed to live there.

Commerical developments along the waterfront

In the 1700s, the government released previously reserved small lots along the waterfront and made them available for commercial developments. From 1711, you could get a lot if you paid one shilling and committed to erect a commercial building that fulfilled the requirements.

By 1725, the community was large enough to have booth a schoolhouse and a communal graveyard.

West Greenwich and East Greenwich

As mentioned above, the more rural three-quarters of Greenwich was split from the more townlike part in 1741, forming West Greenwich and East Greenwich. The split was in response to residents complaining over the difficulties they had attending town meetings as the town was so spread out.

The establishment of Kent County

In 1750, a part of Providence County separated and formed Kent County, and East Greenwich became the shire town of this newly formed county. As a result, a courthouse was erected in East Greenwich.

One of the state capitals

Until 1854, East Greenwich was one of Rhode Island´s five state capitals. When the General Assembly held meetings in East Greenwich, they would use the courthouse.