Holiday magic on display in Cranston historic homes

The Cranston Herald ·

The season’s spirit was on display as crowds visited the pair of Cranston’s most well known historical homes, Sprague Mansion and Joy Homestead on Dec. 3 during the afternoon.

The Sprague Mansion, located at 1351 Cranston St., was decorated for the season and drew visitors from as far away as Fall River. Music was provided by Andrew Kaplan, a Rhode Island pianist, who performed holiday musical selections on the Cranston Historical Society’s rare 1800s Concerta D Grand Steinway. The Western Cranston Garden Club decorated the Mansion in a spirited Victorian theme.

One of the many highlights at the annual Sprague Mansion Holiday Open House was the Christmas tree, which was beautifully adorned with ornaments. This year, Rep. Robert Lancia and his wife Maryann were asked to hang a personalized ornament on the tree.

Sprague Mansion was the home of Governor Sprague and was built in two parts, each representing in its own way the prosperity of the Sprague Family, which came to Cranston in 1712. The small family homestead was constructed in the late 18th century. Featuring a central chimney, low ceilings and simple woodwork, it was the spacious home of the well-to-do farmer and merchant of the post-Revolutionary era.

At Joy Homestead at 156 Scituate Ave., the atmosphere was a bit more subdued, with the celebration marking the pre-Revolutionary era of the 1700s. In keeping with tradition, a fire was kept burning in the hearth as guests gathered around for good cheer. This year the Maids in America, which are costumed dolls, took over the parlor and held a tea party. Children of all ages were welcomed to bring their dolls and super heroes and their parents, of course, to help ring in Christmas.

Commodore Whipple and Major Pitcairn of his Majesty’s Marines were at the Homestead to also greet guests. The Cranston Historical Society’s Joy volunteers invited the community to a Joy Homestead Colonial Christmas. Guests gather around the cozy fireplace for tea, cocoa, and cookies to celebrate the season.

Dutch ovens were used to bake gingerbread, all prepared by curator Lydia Rapoza and Dale Miller, a volunteer.

The Joy Homestead is the former 1800s home of the Joy family in Cranston and is on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. It is one of the oldest properties in Cranston, and many of the families significant to Rhode Island history are connected with this house, including the Fenners, Westcotts, Randalls and Warners.

Located on the historic W3R Washington-Rochambeau Route, the official National Park Service trail our French Allies marched from Newport to Yorktown during the Revolutionary War.

Both the Sprague Mansion and Joy Homestead are open for tours. To contact the Sprague Mansion, call 944-9226.