Buttonwoods 2 - An Ideal Spot
During the middle and late 19th century, more and more Rhode Islanders were smitten by the charms of Warwick’s coastal area. By 1850, travelers came to Nausauket by steamboat or by wagon overland from Apponaug’s train depot. Several of the big attractions during the early period were the clambakes that took place on the Greene farm near what is today’s Hemlock and Promenade Avenues.
Tippecanoe & Tyler, Too
In 1840, a presidential election year saw large crowds gather for a clambake designed to get votes for William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate for president. The “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too” slogan was prominent in this campaign and the Warwick tradition of clambakes for political campaigns was launched. Even at that early time, ballyhoo, slogans and rallies featuring food and emotional speeches seemed to win more votes than would a discussion of the issues.
The Cranston Street Baptist Church
From that time on, the Buttonwoods section of Nausauket became very popular for political gatherings and church picnics. This site captured the imagination of those who were looking for an area in which to enjoy the seashore and maintain a high moral standard. In 1871, members of the Cranston Street Baptist Church in Providence sought to take advantage of Warwick’s, but shied away from the “unwholesome” atmosphere of the Mark Rock and Rocky Point resorts. Instead, they sought the quiet beauty of Buttonwoods. Led by the Reverend Moses Bixby, members of the congregation formed the Buttonwoods Beach Association, built a hotel and hired Providence architect Niles B. Shubarth to plat streets and house lots.
The Buttonwoods planners
Bixby greatly admired the Methodist campground at Oak Bluffs at Martha’s Vineyard and visualized a similar place of beauty and serenity in Warwick. A number of the more affluent in his congregation agreed and a new type of resort made its way to Warwick.
In 1872, under Bixby’s leadership, the Buttonwoods Beach Association was incorporated. Very quickly a hotel was erected and, by 1873, over 30 cottages were built on the land purchased from members of the Greene family. Time has shown that the Association had wisely secured the engineering services of Niles B. Shubarth. Buttonwoods remains a picturesque, park-like, triangular area between Brush Neck Cove and Greenwich Bay. The result of Shubarth’s work is a beautiful, picturesque suburban residential area. The beauty of the surroundings and the excellent planning have made Buttonwoods one of Warwick’s most admired sections.