Buttonwoods 3 - The Association
The desire of the Cranston Street Baptist Church in Providence to emulate the very successful Methodist Community on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts led them to form a beach association at Buttonwoods. To reach these ideals, the development of the Buttonwoods Beach community was controlled to a large extent by the directors of the Buttonwoods Beach Association. The concept strongly adhered to was a regulated growth and an ability to control both the type of dwellings to be built and the moral caliber of those who were allowed to live there. Restrictive clauses prohibited what the association believed were unwholesome activities. While other resorts, such as Rocky Point and Oakland Beach, promoted an amusement park atmosphere, Buttonwoods strived for a quiet family resort with the emphasis on bathing and boating.
In 1881, as the community grew, a new chapel was erected at 1003 Buttonwoods Avenue. This structure, with its large stained glass Palladian window, remains as one of Rhode Island’s loveliest Victorian churches and is as popular a choice for weddings now as it was in the late 19th century.
Many of the same high standards insisted upon by the early leaders in 1872 remain in effect today and have done much to keep Buttonwoods an ideal waterfront community for those who seek the tranquil beauty along the bay.
Buttonwoods In the 20th century
The Buttonwoods district, conceived by Moses Bixby and put into practical use by Niles B. Shubarth, is one of Warwick’s most sought after residential areas in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. The aim of Bixby and Shubarth was to create a community which afforded both recreation and gracious living.
One of the major innovations in the area came in 1896 when the demand for more activities and a social gathering place witnessed the building of the Buttonwoods Casino. This was a major step in the growth of the Buttonwoods Beach Association from a religious summer camp to a very attractive seaside resort and community.
In time the trolley, and later the automobile, made access to Providence and other areas of Rhode Island so easy that the Association’s summer colony attracted the more affluent citizens of the state who were looking for a lovely suburban setting with many of the amenities offered in other wealthy communities. Buttonwoods was ideal in that respect and soon large Victorian homes, with commanding views of Greenwich Bay were being built.
Once again, careful planning and a strict adherence to the principles of building and development created in 1872, kept Buttonwoods from succumbing to the problems that became too common in Warwick during the Post World War II years.