The old café, a building of many uses
In addition to being a most genial host, Michael Carroll, owner
of the Shamrock Café, located at 1331 Greenwich Avenue, was
also skilled in dealing in real estate. Dorothy Mayor, who has researched
Apponaug in the late 20th century, tells us that, "In 1912,
when the bakery building (now Apponaug Printing Co.) near City Hall
went up for auction, Carroll successfully bid for it." Carroll
was also successful in establishing a number of other pieces of
valuable real estate in the Pawtuxet Valley. This helped to establish
him as a political figure as at this time it was necessary to own
property in order to vote.
He is best remembered for the Shamrock Cafe where many of the mill hands gathered to discuss events of the day and the future of Warwick mill villages. In 1913, Carroll and many patrons of the Shamrock Café felt a sense of accomplishment when the town was divided and the mill villages, dominated by Irish, French-Canadian and Italian millworkers, became the Town of West Warwick.
Emil Bengtsen Bar & Grill
After twenty-five years of ownership of the Shamrock Café, Carroll decided to sell. According to Dorothy Mayor's research of the land and buildings, Emil Bengtsen of West Warwick acquired the property from Michael Carroll in 1924 and for over two decades continued to use the property for both a dwelling and a business. Bengtsen added the large ell on the south side of the building and made other changes by renovating and expanding the living quarters on the second floor. Emil Bengtsen’s Bar & Grill weathered the depression of the 1930’s and World War II. While his café never achieved the popularity of Carroll’s Shamrock Café, it managed to thrive for over twenty years.
Lynch’s Ice-Cream Parlor
In 1948, James E. Lynch purchased the property and, unlike Carroll and Bengtsen, decided not to operate the property as a tavern. After World War II times had changed. There was a greater prosperity and it became obvious that teenagers now had more money to spend and wanted their own type of establishment to patronize. Taverns and cafes, which still did well with the older crowd, could not provide what those under twenty-one were demanding. Dot Mayor tells us, "Jimmy Lynch turned the old barroom into a teenage hangout where ice-cream, soda pop, hot dogs and hamburgers were sold." At the time Lvnch acquired the building he was a sergeant on the Warwick Police Force and fully aware of the growing problem then being labeled as Juvenile Delinquency. During mid-century Warwick still had no fast food places (McDonald’s didn’t build their first establishment in Warwick until 1963) or drive-ins that appealed to teenagers. Lynch, by turning the building at the corner of Greenwich Avenue and Tanner Avenue into an ice-cream parlor was providing a place for the young crowd.
James Lynch eventually became Warwick's Chief of Police. As a law enforcement officer he was carrying on the tradition of police work in Warwick that began with his grandfather, Michael B. Lynch, in the 1870's. Five generations of Lynches have served as law officers, including James F. Lynch's grandson James, who became a Rhode Island State Trooper.
Michael B. Lynch
Michael Bernard Lynch, the man who began the Lynch tradition of law enforcement, was one of Kent County's most colorful and dynamic personalities and is still remembered that way by some of the older residents. The law enforcement career of the legendary Lynch spanned the period from 1879 to 1929. Shortly before Lynch died at age 92 in 1933, Wilton P. Hudson, editor of the Pawtuxet Valley Times, (now the Kent County Daily Times), wrote that Lynch spent time in, "...trailing fugitives from justice to as far away as the southern states, raiding cock fights, road houses and saloons…." It was during this early period in his career that Warwick, which then included West Warwick, had numerous laws calling for prohibition. It was also during this period that Warwick was notorious for not obeying these laws. The town’s road-houses promoted gambling and prostitution as well as the illegal sale of intoxicating beverages and Warwick gained the unsavory reputation of a “wide-open” town. It was a prevalent belief that many of the constables hired to stop this type of activity were actually on the payroll of the owners of the illegal bars and taverns and did nothing to enforce the law. The exception was Michael B. Lynch who followed the letter of the law.
Sheriff Michael B. Lynch made his home at Tollgate Road in Apponaug in 1881, a few years before he became Deputy Sheriff of Kent County. While Deputy Sheriff Lynch recalled that he conducted many raids in the town of Warwick. He said that one year he raided every saloon and roadhouse in the township. According to the Hudson article, Lynch was told, "Time and time again...that if he valued his life he'd better not come back to raid again." Hudson reports that Lynch paid no attention to warnings and when the occasion came for a raid he went, "no matter what previous threats had been made to him . . . "