DescriptionSamuel Gorton, Warwick's founder, was one of early Rhode Island's most colorful characters. An extreme individualist who did not believe in civic or religious authority, Gorton was exiled successively from Plymouth Colony and Portsmouth. Even Roger Williams, also an exile, banished Gorton from Providence. Seeking to avoid persecution, Gorton and several followers purchased lands at Shawomet from the Narragansett Indians in 1643.
Disputing Gorton's claim at Shawomet, the Massachusetts Bay Colony arraigned Gorton and his fellow purchasers before a tribunal, which condemned the men to prison for blasphemy. Upon his release, Gorton went to England to gain protection from Massachusetts. Promised protection by the Earl of Warwick, an important member of Parliament, Gorton confidently returned to Shawomet and renamed it after the earl.
About the beginning of the 19th century, Warwick developed as a confederation of villages built around textile mills along the Pawtuxet River. Now a major retail center and suburban area, Warwick is second in size only to Providence.
Although rapid industrial and commercial expansion erased most vestiges of Warwick's early history, progress has left the 39 miles of coastline along Narragansett and Greenwich bays untouched. Each summer Warwick's beaches and shoreline attract boaters and inland residents.
Warwick City Park on Asylum Road features beach and recreational facilities on 170 acres. Oakland Beach, south from SR 117 on Oakland Beach Avenue, and Conimicut Point, east off SR 117, offer swimming, fishing and scenic views. At low tide, beachcombers search the shore for clams, locally known as quahogs.
Goddard Memorial State Park, which occupies more than 489 acres off SR 1 on Ives Rd., was planted more than 100 years ago with an unusual selection of trees. Considered a fine example of private forestry, the main portion of the park is open from April through September, with limited access the rest of the year. In addition to swimming, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking and a public golf course, the park offers summer concerts in a restored carousel building near the beach.
Several annual events are held early May through mid-June as part of Warwick’s Gaspee Days Celebration, including arts and crafts fairs, a parade, fireworks displays and colonial encampments. The celebration commemorates the 1772 burning of an armed British schooner, the HMS Gaspee, by prominent Rhode Island colonists protesting oppressive British taxes and trade laws. Phone (401) 781-1772.
Local and regional art is featured year-round at Warwick Museum of Art in Kentish Artillery Armory, 3259 Post Rd.; phone (401) 737-0010.
Visitor InfoWarwick Department of Tourism, Culture and Development 3275 Post Rd. WARWICK, RI 02886. Phone:(401)738-2000
ShoppingMajor malls include Rhode Island Mall, I-295 exit 1 at the junction of SRs 2 and 113, which features Sears and Kohl's; and Warwick Mall, I-295 exit 2 at the junction of SRs 2 and 5, which is anchored by JCPenney and Macy's.