The current Rhode Island State House was built on the site of Snowtown. Following the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1784, newly emancipated, indentured and freeborn Black Rhode Islanders needed places to live, work, play and build community. In a pattern typical to the U.S., a statewide social, legal and economic system of white supremacy replaced the social, legal and economic system of slavery. Alongside white and Indigenous poor and working class people, Black residents settled in marginalized Providence neighborhoods such as Hardscrabble, Snowtown, Olney Street and Stamper’s. Archival and archeological records present examples of persistence, entrepreneurship and care work in these majority Black communities, which were also targets of racially motivated oppression and violence.
Snowtown was a small, mixed-race neighborhood in mid-1800s Providence. It was the site of a racially motivated mob attack in the fall of 1831, but it was also home. It began as a kind of refuge for poor Black and white laborers but also became the home of waves of migrants and laborers, extra-legal entrepreneurs, and widowed mothers. By the end of the 19th century, the Snowtown community was displaced by the railroad construction and urban development, including the RI State House.
All efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website, however it is subject to change. Information is updated in an ongoing manner in partnership with local tourism offices, individual businesses and organizations and via a direct feed from goprovidence.com, discovernewport.org, southcountyri.com and Yelp.com.