A love for horses
Many of the traditions carried on by Adelaide Knight on the East Avenue or Natick Farm had been started much earlier by Robert Knight and Webster Knight. They were Adelaide’s grandfather and father.
Colonel Webster Knight, owner of the "Natick" or Knight Farm on East
Avenue from 1933 until 1948, had a great love for horses. Bob Jodrie,
one of the last caretakers on the estate, explained that special box
stalls to house the Knights' prize studs and brood mares were built
along the lane leading from the main house to the cider press. The area
behind the stalls was planted with special grasses and meticulously
maintained for the benefit of the young animals.
Knight Family built their own tracks
A race track, which was located on the Pontiac side of present day Route I-95, was started as a "harness racing" course and later various other activities and shows took place there. The track was used for training as well as racing and horses from here often went to the track owned by Webster Knight II at Quidnesset, to the Narragansett Race Track or to Fairs and Animal Shows throughout New England.
A Pet Cemetery
When the horses became old or disabled, the Knights used a humane method of disposing of them. A special burial ground was set aside on the crest of the hill where the Community College of Rhode Island's main building now stands. This was the site of a magnificent Chestnut tree grove before a blight struck the area and destroyed the trees. Ed Phillips, who worked on the estate in the late 1930s vividly remembers how peaceful the grove was and how it seemed to be a perfect place for an animal cemetery.
Keeping up with the twentieth century
Colonel Webster Knight, Adelaide's father, was also very much interested in fine motor cars. On a number of occasions, the Knights used their race tracks as a setting for auto racing and for Antique Automobile Convocations. Dawson Powell, an antique car buff and an excellent photographer, captured some of these fine automobiles in 1948. This track has been identified at the Quidnesset estate belonging to Webster Knight II, a nephew of Colonel Webster Knight.
Like so many other farms in Warwick, the Knight Farm ceased to exist as a working farm by the later years of the twentieth century. Today the Rhode Island Mall and the Community College are on much of the land. Fortunately, the college has managed to keep the lovely Knight house and many of its outbuildings so that the heritage of the Knight family lives on to some degree.
Photographer Dawson Powell managed to capture some of the action at the track. Crowds came to see the trotting horses in action for a number of years. Later in the century, when the Knights, like so many others in Rhode Island, fell in love with the motor vehicles. Because of their wealth, the Knights were able to acquire a number of very fine automobiles and proudly displayed them at Warwick and Quidneset.
The story of the Knight Estate will be continued.