Apponaug’s changing Four Corners

Dorothy Mayor, in her booklet, “I Remember Apponaug,” noted that many changes had occurred on Post Road at the Four Corners during her lifetime. On the northwest corner, where Greenwich Avenue meets Centerville Road, there were a number of enterprises during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A busy corner
In the early years, Greenwich Avenue was known as the road to Pontiac. It was a dirt road and on the corner, which now houses a modern phone center and a fish market, there was Joseph Perkins’ Store and a bakery. Perkins had a barn at about the site now occupied by People’s Storage. Mischievous youngsters enjoyed taunting Perkins on Halloween by hoisting a buggy to the roof of the barn. Perkins, who had a dry sense of humor, always took the buggy down without acknowledging the prank, thus turning the trick on the pranksters. Early in the 20th century, across from the old Apponaug Hotel, there was a shoe store on this northwest corner. Around the mid-century, the S & H drugstore, which had been on the southeast corner for many years, moved to this location. In time it became the S & S Pharmacy and later in the century, Warwick Prescription Drugs. Near the close of the twentieth century, the pharmacy gave way to the Cellular One Store and Captain’s Catch. For the last decade plans have been advanced to make changes to drastically alter the corner to alleviate the heavy traffic, which flows through there constantly. The constant flow of traffic through the Four Corners has led many a wit to wonder if Apponaug means “Traffic Jam” in the Narragansett language.

The Samuel Greene house/Gulf Station
The southwest corner at the crossroads is an excellent example of how time has changed the face of Apponaug. The Samuel Greene house, not to be confused with the Caleb Greene Memorial House mentioned later in this article, once occupied this corner. The Greene family is one of the most important in the history and development of Apponaug. Samuel Greene, the great-grandson of John Greene, Sr., one of Warwick's founders, had inherited the land and lumber to build his house in 1722. His father, Capt. Samuel Greene, the 11th son of Deputy Governor John Greene, operated a gristmill in Apponaug and had a large farm. The house faced the first mill that was built along what is today’s Centerville Road. It was the fulling mill of John Micarter, built in 1698. The Greene family owned the mill from 1702 until 1853. Two years later, the mill formed the nucleus for the oriental Print Works, which later became the Apponaug Company.

Dorothy Mayor’s notes indicate that the Samuel Greene house was moved to face Post Road, sometime during the 19th century. The house was one of the most often visited dwellings during the first half of the 20th century as it was the home and office of one of Apponaug's most beloved physicians, Dr. Long.

During the mid-20th century, this historic house was demolished. The major change came as a result of the importance of the automobile. During the horse and buggy days, Apponaug had several blacksmith shops. Now that the horse has been replaced by the automobile, the area has a number of garages and gas stations. This southwest corner is now occupied by a Gulf Station, which is diagonally across from the Shell Station that occupied the site of another famous area landmark, the Apponaug Hotel.

The Caleb Greene Memorial House
Most of the mill complex on Centerville Road has been destroyed by fire and many of the old buildings are gone. Fortunately, the late 18th century Caleb Greene, or Greene Memorial, house still stands. This house, one of the most historically significant, can best be viewed from across the street at the southwest corner, near the rear of the Gulf Station. It was built by Caleb Greene in 1798. Much of its significance comes from the fact that Caleb’s son, George Sears Greene, one of the most distinguished generals in the Civil War, lived here. George Sears Greene’s son, Major General Francis Vinton, Greene gave this house to the Rhode Island Episcopal Convention. His intention was to have it maintained as a memorial to his illustrious father. During the 20th century, it had been owned by the Red Cross. Later as the property of Russell Howard it was used by Chabad of West Bay for religious services. Today it is serving in a new capacity. It is a cooperative where tenants rent a room and share the kitchen, bath and living rooms.

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