Dancing And Dining With Betsey And Rhoda

The Betsey Williams Cottage in Roger Williams Park is just past the Casino as one enters from the Elmwood Avenue side. You can’t miss it. In 2018 — having been shuttered for decades — the building was restored and reopened to the public.

In the 1773 cottage that today sits beneath a massive sycamore tree, Betsey Williams, the great-great-great granddaughter of Roger Williams, was born and raised with her sister Rhoda. The surrounding fields and marshes were their playground, and as adults their livelihood.  It was in the cottage that the sisters wove cloth to supplement their income and also invited neighbors to dine and dance with them. Upon her death in 1871, Betsey bequeathed the cottage and 102 acres of surrounding farmland to the city of Providence, which became the foundation of Roger Williams Park.

Thank you Betsey.

These spectacular sycamores with their mottled bark fell out of favor in the landscape due the unappealing symptoms of sycamore anthracnose.

Sycamore anthracnose is a fungal disease that can cause leaf drop, twig dieback, cankers and the sudden death of more than 90% of a tree’s new shoot growth. Although the disease is rarely fatal and trees will grow a second set of leaves, repeat infections will result in abnormal branching and will leave a tree stressed and more susceptible to other diseases and pests. American sycamore or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis), London plane tree (P. x acerifolia) and Oriental plane tree (P. orientalis) may all be affected by sycamore anthracnose.

Betsey Williams Cottage, 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Roger Williams Park, (directions)

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