Dot Mayor, an Apponaug Activist
As noted in a previous article in this column, when Oscar Aylsworth
built the large, ten room Victorian house at 3165 Post Road, he
had a home designed to reflect his obvious prosperity as a successful
salesman. Within a relatively short time, however, divorce and financial
difficulties had turned the elegant home into a boarding house.
Georgianna Aylsworth found that in order to support herself she
had to rent out rooms and take in boarders. To do this she redesigned
Aunt Anne Taylor
Georgianna's sister, Anne Taylor, offered to move in and provide enough income so that Georgianna would not have to take in boarders. The arrangement worked very well for awhile. Mrs. Taylor moved in bringing her fine and expensive furnishings, accompanied by her chauffeur and her cook. During this period, some important changes were made. The narrow, outside rear stairway was enclosed, indoor plumbing was added, and a large room was constructed at the rear of the house. In time, however, the arrangement became less attractive and Mrs. Taylor and her entourage moved.
A versatile building
Over the years, Georgianna Aylsworth again resorted to renting rooms on the second floor, and at one time the front section of the house was used as a dressmaker’s shop and a beauty salon. When Georgianna died in 1939, the house was left to her daughter, Maude P. (Aylsworth) Compston, remembered by most residents as Apponaug's librarian.
Maude Aylsworth Compston
Mrs. Compston had a keen sense of history and her collection of local memorabilia attracted many to the Henry Warner Budlong Memorial Library. Much of Mrs. Compston's love for local history and her concern for Apponaug has been kept alive by her daughter, the late Dorothy Mayor.
Dorothy Mayor, who inherited the house at 3165 Post Road, is usually credited with being the force behind Apponaug's revitalization. Dot, writing about Apponaug, said:
Throughout most of my life, I have had a hate-love relationship with my birthplace. Sometimes I have been proud of it, sometimes ashamed to acknowledge any relation to it. But it was the home of my parents, my grandparents, and my great grandparents. Each generation must have seen this place, my home, in a different way. None of the past generations could have foreseen, although in their time they may have contributed to it, that their village would onetime become a nondescript crossroads on the map.... I hope good planning will make my village attractive to visitors and residents and that once again it will become a place with a future.
As most residents know, Dorothy Mayor did a great deal to see that Apponaug would have a future. She inherited and moved into her mother's house in 1967. At that time, she was the head of the Home Economics Department at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School. In 1948, Dot had started a successful career as a writer of mystery novels. She had two published at the time, It’s an Ill Will and Last Call For Lissa, and was working on a third when she was asked by Charles McKay, Superintendent of Schools at the time, to teach "home-economics" on a substitute basis. This was a period when married women were still not being hired on a full-time basis and Mrs. Mayor was reluctant to accept the position. Mr. McKay wisely appealed to her sense of loyalty to Warwick and her strong commitment to public service. For the next 34 years, Mrs. Mayor made a very positive contribution to the growth of the Warwick school system.
When Dorothy Mayor retired from teaching in 1975, she decided to pursue her lifelong desire to paint. As with just about everything she did, the results were remarkable. Fortunately, she combined her new skills with her talent for writing and with the love for history passed on by her mother. The result was a booklet, "I Remember Apponaug" and a number of excellent paintings of the village. Some of these paintings are at the Warwick
Museum in Apponaug.
Dorothy's main concern was to restore Apponaug to its earlier charm. She helped to create the Apponaug Area Improvement Association. The love Dot had for the community was contagious and Apponaug has been revitalized. The credit for the change does not, of course, belong to Dot Mayor alone, but certainly the lady who lived at 3165 Post Road was the catalyst who had made Apponaug more than just another crossroads.
The story of Apponaug and Warwick's other villages will be continued.