Mark Rock Hotel – Conimicut

While the textile mills in Warwick were extraordinarily important during the 19th century, another type of enterprise began to take shape.  In addition, Warwick became famous for its summer resorts.

During the nineteenth century Warwick's thirty-nine mile coastline gave birth to a number of resorts and amusement parks that made Warwick the playground of Rhode Island and the home of the clam dinner.  Among these were Rocky Point, Horn Spring, Oakland Beach, Mark Rock, Gaspee Plateau, Buttonwoods, and Longmeadow.  In addition were large landed estates purchased by the very wealthy in Warwick Neck, Potowomut, and along the Cowesett shore.

While an especially significant one was Rocky Point, which had been started by Capt. Winslow in 1847 as a place for steamboats to dock for Sunday School picnics, there were many others in Warwick that enjoyed a great popularity during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The Warwick Railroad, as well as steamboats, brought holiday crowds to these new amusement centers.

Mark Rock Hotel

In the mid-19th century, Conimicut became infamous when the notorious Mark Rock Hotel was established there.  It soon began attracting steamboat passengers to the resort, much to the dismay of the residents of the area.  One Providence police officer said his company would wait at the dock for the boat from Mark Rock to come in to Providence on a Sunday evening and arrest nearly all on board as it was usual for them to be drunk and disorderly on returning from the Conimicut hotel.   It took a number of years for the village to recover from this unsavory reputation and much of this came about with the coming of the Warwick Railroad and the electric trolley.   With easy access to Providence and other areas of the state via the trolley lines, Conimicut was regarded as the ideal suburban setting.  Close enough to the capital city, yet along Warwick’s coast, it is not surprising that new houses were built and summer cottages were winterized.

A great deal changed and Conimicut became a fashionable summer resort, attracting many of Providence’s more affluent citizens.  During the early 20th century, a fine suburban community developed in Conimicut, made possible by the easy access to Providence.   By the late 19th century, the railroad station at the intersection of Beach and Transit Streets,  long since demolished, was one of the busiest on the Warwick-Oakland Beach line.

Substantial homes, such as those on Beach Avenue in Conimicut, grew in numbers during the 20th century as Providence’s affluent merchants, doctors and lawyers found it fashionable to have a summer home along the Warwick shore.  So too, did the number of more modest dwellings grow, as thanks to the electrification of the line and the increase in the number of trolley cars, it was possible to work in Providence and live in Conimicut.   Of utmost significance in this development were the churches, the schools and the volunteer fire station in the village.


This early 20th century postcard shows some of the houses built by the more affluent Providence residents.  Many of these began as summer homes and then became permanent residences.

Warwick Historical Society Collection.

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