Take A Walk Through Black History

“In Memory of three respectable Black persons, Phillis, Rose, & Fanny Chace who served faithfully in the home of Samuel Chace Esq.” So reads the headstone marking the grave of the Chace sisters whose faithful service was also mandatory. A walkway to the cemetery of St. John’s Cathedral can be accessed alongside the house at 70 Benefit Street (the green house in the background).

This is just one the sites of interest on the self-guided walking tour created by the Center for Reconciliation, the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, Stages of Freedom, and the Rhode Island Historical Society. The tour features 14 sites of significance in the history of Providence’s black community. The Providence Journal has the map and listings at “Hidden no more: Black history walking tour brings to light a separate reality.” Madeleine List writes:

Phillis Chace was enslaved by a warden of the King’s Church and is buried in the cemetery behind the Cathedral of St. John along with her daughter and granddaughter, both of whom were also enslaved.

Under “On the Road to Freedom” at the Stages of Freedom website we learn that Phillis died some time between 1790-1793. Rose was buried Dec. 20, 1801. The cemetery is Rhode Island Historic Cemetery # 11.

The line of philosophy at the bottom of the Chace sisters’ headstone reads:

The wise, the gay, the humble and the exalted, the beautiful and the deformed must all moulder in the same native clay.

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