Royal Webster Knight decides to move from his Warwick estate.
Royal Webster Knight, described by his friends as an "amateur
oceanographer and an ardent conservationist and sportsman," pondered
for a long while over the disposition of his large Warwick East Avenue
estate. Much of the pasturelands and the barns had been sold in the
early 1960's and became the large, sprawling Midland Mall Complex.
Knight, even after the sale of that large piece of land, retained over
eighty acres of very desirable property near the intersection of Routes
I 95 and I 295.
Valuable Real Estate
The value of the property if used for commercial purposes was estimated at over $500,000. Royal W. Knight, however, according to Francis J. McCabe, Jr., one of Warwick's well known real estate agents, preferred to have the large, 2 1/2 story family home to always remain a private residence. This lovely dwelling once served as the country house of Governor William Sprague (1799 1856) and for members of the Knight family. During the late nineteenth century, it was the home of Warwick's leading political figure, Webster Knight, who was on Warwick's Town Council for eleven years and was its president for four.
The Rhode Island Junior College
McCabe, who shared mutual likes and dislikes with Royal Knight, including a great preference for the humor of W. C. Fields, was told by Knight that the latter felt he would give up the property as he was "hardly ever there now." Fortunately, the Rhode Island Junior College (now the Community College of Rhode Island) was looking for a new location. The college had been housed at the former Brown & Sharpe Complex on Promenade Street in Providence since 1964. As enrollment increased and more students began to favor the junior college, more space was needed, preferably in a central location.
An ideal situation
The Knight property, almost in the geographical center of Rhode Island and at the junction of two major interstate highways, was considered as one of the most desirable settings for the new school. Informal talks between Francis J. McCabe, Jr., Royal Webster Knight, and William Flanagan, then president of the college, resulted in Knight deciding to give the land, the house and the buildings to the state of Rhode Island for educational purposes.
After much planning and contemplation, it was decided that the imposing dwelling with tastefully combined aspects of the Federal and Greek Revival Periods, would be used as a residence for the college's president and that the handsome and well preserved out buildings on the farm would be used and maintained by the college.
In that manner, Knight was able to preserve, at least in part, some of the nicest visual reminders of his grandfather's "gentleman's farm." The Knight home, the carriage house, gardener's cottage, the milk house, cider press, mare's stable and the impressive stonewalls have been preserved. The State of Rhode Island acquired this prime real estate property and Warwick became the center of one of the fastest growing and most significant educational complexes.
The story of the Knight Estate and CCRI will be continued.
Today’s Community College is a most imposing structure on the old Knight Estate. The building was designed by Perkins and Will Partnership of White Plains, New York, in conjunction with the Providence firms of Harkness and Geddes and Robinson Green Beretta.