A historic treasure in Scituate is the LAPHAM INSTITUTE, located on a crest between Route 6 and Route 116 and visible from the Village Green. Built in 1839, the Greek Revival building was originally home to the Smithville Seminary. At the time, it was one of the largest school buildings ever built in the town. In 1863, the building was named the Lapham Institute and then renamed the Watchman Institute. Over the years, the building became ill-kept and in disrepair.
In the 1970s, an effort to repair and restore the structure was successful.
Today, the building is home to Scituate Commons, an apartment complex. But the exterior, with its magnificent three-story columns, remains true to the original design. Scituate Art Festival - Festival Features
from my email:-
History of the State of Rhode Island with Illustrations
Albert J. Wright, Printer
No. 79 Mille Street, corner of Federal, Boston.
Hong, Wade & Co., Philadelphia
pp. 299 - 305: (part 18) [this is Beth's note - she numbered her
postings as she sent them to the list]
This institution is located upon a slight eminence, commanding a fine view
of the beautiful village of North Scituate. It is composed of three large
and beautiful buildings, and was founded by the Rhode Island Association of
Free Baptists, in the year 1839. The school opened under auspicious
circumstances, in the autumn of 1839, with Rev. Hosea Quimby as its
principal. Three courses of study were provided: one for young men
preparing for college; one for young ladies, embracing a period of four
years; and one to meet the wants of those pupils who only attended one or
more terms. The great want of this institution, like many others of a
similar character, is an endowment fund. The entire amount of money, some
$30,000, which was raised at first, was wholly absorbed in the grounds,
buildings, and furnishings. As the denomination under whose auspices this
institution was erected and controlled was neither large nor wealthy, no
endowment fund was provided. In the year 1850, the society becoming
heavily taxed for its support, sold the entire property to Mr. Quimby, its
principal, who, by careful management, and the practice of a true economy
in several of its departments, hoped to render the school
self-sustaining. But after four years of severe struggle, he succumbed to
overwork and anxiety. Samuel P. Coburn then hired the property of Mr.
Quimby, and became its next principal. He remained three years.
In 1857, Rev. W. Colgrove purchased the buildings and furnishings of its
owner, and conducted the school for two years, at the expiration of which
time the institution was closed for the space of three years. In 1863, the
name of the school was changed from Smithville Seminary to Lapham
Institute, and Hon. Benedict Lapham and others becoming sureties for
whatever deficiencies might occur. This generous act, upon the part of Mr.
Lapham, not only illustrates his liberal characteristics, but the high
esteem he entertained toward the educational interests of the town. Rev.
B. F. Hayes was chosen its next principal, and conducted the school for two
years in a very successful manner. Prof. Thomas L. Angell succeeded him,
and remained two years. Prof. George H. Ricker succeeded Mr. Angell, and
continued the successful management of the school for some years. A. G.
Moulton was then chosen its principal, but died at the close of his first
year. Prof. W. S. Stockbridge, the present incumbent, succeeded him in the
autumn of 1875, and is a gentleman noted not only for his genial ways and
fine culture, but his thoroughness as an instructor. Among the most
distinguished graduates of this institution are Prof. James B. Angell of
Michigan University, at Ann Arbor; also George T. Day, former editor of
the 'Morning Star'; ex-Governor Howard of Rhode Island; Prof. Thomas L.
Angell of Bates College; and Mary Latham Clark, who is the author of
several popular and valuable works. The property is now owned by Mr.
William Winsor of Greenville, R. I., by whose beneficence the school is at
present sustained. It has a full corps of teachers, a fine library; and
its laboratory comprises a well assorted chemical and astronomical
apparatus. The buildings remain in good repair, and its location is
unsurpassed by any like institution in New England. Certainly the citizens
of North Scituate may well feel proud of their educational interests, and
regard with pride this institution, not only for its past reputation, but
its present excellence."
continued in part 19.
Nice relief of this wealthy Rhode Islander in Providence's beautiful Swan Point Cemetery..
Benedict Lapham, born June 26th, 1816, was in early life employed on a farm, and in manufacturing establishments in Burrillville, Rhode Island, and Palmer and Douglass, Massachusetts. He also for a time had charge of the farming interests of the Albion Manufacturing Company at Smithfield, Rhode Island. In 1837 he attended Bushee's Academy at Bank Village, Rhode Island, where he paid special attention to the study of mechanics. He then worked several years as a carpenter and wheelwright. In 1839 he hired the Tillinghast factory in East Greenwich, and engaged successfully in the manufacture of cotton goods until the fall of 1840, when the factory was sold and the stock disposed of to the purchasers of the property. He then resumed farming, his father having conveyed to him the old homestead. Mr. Lapham afterward carried on the manufacturing business in North Scituate, Wallum Pond, and Pascoag, Rhode Island. In the summer of 1852 he bought of the executors of the will of the late John Greene of Warwick, the estate in Centreville, embracing two-thirds of the water power, and all the machinery of the old mills which were built in 1794 and 1807, with later additions. Here Mr. Lapham and his brother Enos engaged in the manufacture of cotton cloth with about 5,000 spindles. In 1861 he made a large addition to the mill, and in 1871 removed the old building, erecting on the site a new structure three hundred and three feet long, one of the finest mills in the state, and probably one of the largest. It has a capacity for 40,000 spindles and employs both steam and water power. He was his own architect, making the plans and supervising the work of building. Mr. Lapham was also engaged in the cotton and grain trade, visiting the South and West in the interest of this branch of his business.
During the 'Dorr Rebellion' he was captain of a militia company. In 1849 he was a member of the Rhode Island house of representatives from Scituate. In 1863 he was elected to the state senate from Warwick to fill a vacancy, and re-elected the following year. He was appointed by Governor Smith, state commissioner of the Antietam Cemetery, and reappointed by Governor Padelford. He was president of the town council for five years, justice of the peace, and the imcumbent of other offices. In 1863 he purchased the Smithville Seminary and gave it to the Free Will Baptist Association. He afterward carried on that institution for five years at his own expense. He married in November, 1849, Ann Eliza, daughter of the late Russell and Catherine (Essex) Austin, of North Kingstown.
Mr. Lapham's business career extended over a period of more than forty years, and was characterized by strict integrity and ceaseless energy. He was a man of iron constitution, indomitable perseverance, and great executive ability. He possessed a thoroughly disciplined mind, and was master of his business, comprehending all its details, from the buying of cotton in the fields, through all the processes of manufacturing, to the sale of all the products of his mills. His liberal spirit and interest in the public welfare led him to devote much of his wealth to the cause of education and to benevolent purposes. His career was one of great usefulness until his death, which occurred June 16th, 1883. from USGenWeb RI Articles, Biographies Warwick
Transcriber's Note: I believe this was located in the area now called
"Institute Lane" in North Scituate - not sure if any of the buildings are
transcription - this one posted to the RIGENWEB mailing
list at rootsweb.com by Beth Hurd, Saturday, April 03, 2004 11:15 PM
I'm pretty sure these transcriptions are also located at the RIGENWEB
website in the reading room section.
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