Apponaug’s Post Road and Williams Corner
Fortunately, many of Apponaug’s early nineteenth century buildings
have been spared the ravages of time and the demands of the twentieth
century. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Development and
the Apponaug Library have maps and brochures, free of charge, that
highlight many of Apponaug's important sites. Both residents and
non-residents of Warwick can take advantage of a walking tour through
one of the city's most significant neighborhoods.
The Thomas Wilbur House
On the other side of Post Road, opposite the former St. Catherine’s convent (now the O’Connell house, is one of Apponaug's most historic and interesting buildings, the Thomas Wilbur house. Next to the lot where the house is now located was the old Baptist Meeting House which was built before the Revolutionary War. The early Baptists here ran into difficulty over religious dogma and "the meeting house went to decay for many years". In 1785, another Baptist congregation repaired and occupied the old church, but by 1805, they too became extinct. It is generally believed that Thomas Wilbur moved the old Meeting House to his lot and made it into a house around 1821.
This two-and-a-half story, gable roofed dwelling has a very fine Federal doorway with fluted pilasters and handsome, carved, ornamental brackets. Wilbur, who was a skilled craftsman, probably carved the Masonic rule and compass design and other decorative work. A veranda, added at a later period, obscures much of the fine detailed work, but the house, on both the interior and exterior, is another excellent example of the Apponaug that once was.
Between St. Catherine's Church at 3248 Post Road and the Wilbur house at 3188 Post Road are two fine homes, the George H. Railings (1878) and the Steven Browning (1836) houses. Recently renovated, they are a credit to the village and help retain Apponaug's 19th century charm, as do the streetlights along Post Road.
The Post Office
Apponaug's busy Post Office, built in 1941, has brought about a pedestrian light at this point and it is a good place to cross Post Road. Inside the Post Office is a mural of Apponaug Cove by WPA artist, Paul Sample, depicting shell fishermen in Apponaug Cove. The artist has captured the feeling of the Cove in the early 20th century. Sample gives us a sense of abstraction through his use of overlapped forms, flat space, and smooth lines (as can be seen in the seamless prows of the boats and the open barrel top).
A few blocks from the Post Office is Williams Corner. This was one of the most important sections of Apponaug in the late 19th century. The area was dominated by the railroad station, freight yard and bridge. Beyond this was the well-known Sweet's Meadow, an important Indian village and later the camp for the Irish laborers who helped build the Stonington Railroad.
The only structure which remains of the railroad complex of buildings is the freight station, built in the first half of the 19th century. The depot was on the opposite side of the tracks and was in frequent use. Apponaug historian, Dorothy Mayor, in her booklet, "I Remember Apponaug", noted:
Local trains between New York and Boston made regular stops to pick up and discharge passengers at the depot. The freight yard was a very busy place with cars on its siding from all over the country.
William Jennings Bryan, famous for his "Cross of Gold Speech" and eloquence on behalf of the farmer and worker, in one of his whistle-stop Presidential trips, made a brief visit to the Apponaug Station. During World War I, soldiers were camped here, waiting for the troop trains to take them to their destination. In "I Remember Apponaug", Dot Mayor tells us:
...During World War I a temporary encampment was set up in the freight yard. It was exciting to watch the sentries march back and forth, to listen to the bugle calls, and to be present when a troop train stopped to take the boys to Boston on the first leg of their journey to France.
The Sam Clarke House
This junction of the roads from Old Warwick, Main Street and Post Road, was the scene of much of the activity of the village during the turn into the 20th century and some of the village's finest homes were built here. Standing on a high rise and facing the freight yard on the cove side of Post Road was the Sam Clarke House, also known as the Harrington house. This was torn down in the 1950's; the rise was cut down to street level, and a chemical plant was built on the site.
Odd fellow’s Hall
Fortunately, a number of houses in the area have survived. Not far from the depot is the William J. Richardson House at 3160 Post Road. It was built in 1889. Next to the Richardson house is an apartment house at 3166 Post Road. That was once the Perseverance Lodge 1OOF, Apponaug's famous Odd fellows Hall. Everett Eastman, a long time-resident of Warwick who attended the Apponaug Old Timers Night on July 12, 1990, recalled that, at one time, one of Warwick's most colorful characters, Dr.Hagenow, had his office in the Odd fellow building. Everett said, "He was a huge man and a real character. The doctor talked very loud and often one could overhear his frank discussions with his patients." Everett recalled that the doctor had an old Hubmobile, which broke down at Apponaug's busy Four Corners. At that time, Post Road heading south was only two lanes wide and the doctor's car was blocking traffic. When a young rookie policeman came by to order Doctor Hagenow to move, Everett related, "The doctor bellowed at the cop and ordered him to go to the garage and arrange to get his car fixed. The officer quickly obliged. In those days, no one disobeyed the good doctor.”