Think you know Little Rhody like the back of your hand? When’s the last time you visited Nasonville? How about Mapleville? If the suffix -ville didn’t give the location away, we’re talking about Burrillville, a town in Providence County which lies in the northwest corner of the Blackstone Valley. Part of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which took shape in the late 1980s, Burrillville still retains much of its rural character with farms and open space.
A Burrillville must is a visit to Wright’s Farm Restaurant. For over 50 years, this popular spot has been serving up award-winning family-style chicken dinners. Located off Broncos Highway (yup, that’s in Rhode Island), be sure to check out their amazing gift shop for local products; with 4,000 square feet, it’s the largest gift shop in the area.
Like many valley communities, Burrillville comprises several mill villages that thrived during the industrial revolution, each with their unique offerings of arts and culture, recreation, nature, and history – some with haunting undertones.
Centered around Harris Mill and Clear River, Harrisville has a rural New England ambiance. A small town, yes, but it contains many amenities you might find in an urban center, and venues are within walking distance to each other with scenic views, wayfinding signs, and benches. The village is also home to The Farm on Round Top Road, a 1700s farmhouse known better as “the Conjuring House,” the home on the Arnold Estate where the Perron family experienced the real-life hauntings for which the first The Conjuring movie is based.
Set a course for the waterfall and find a range of eateries, including the aptly named Waterfall Cafe & Martini Bar, The Taco Shop (pro tip: try the crunch wrap), and Niko's Pizza House. Love food trucks? On Sundays from May until October, The Assembly Theatre hosts PVD Food Truck events.
The Art Box Studio & Retail Gallery offers craft workshops and gifts for sale by over 35 local artisans. From June through September, find local food, art, children’s activities, and music at the Burrillville Farmers Market, held at the Stillwater Mill Pavilion.
Footbridges, mills, pond overlooks, and more can all be found on a self-guided walking tour of Harrisville, accessed at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org. There’s also the Jesse Smith Community Library and Stillwater Mill Complex. By appointment, purchase pasture-raised beef, chicken, turkey, and pork at Liberty Farm. Before you call in your order, why not reserve a horse-drawn carriage ride by a team of Clydesdales and Percheron draft horses with a luxury picnic add-on?
Some say “pas-coh” and some say “pas-kwag” and likely the name is derived from the Nipmuc word for snake (“askug”) referring to the village’s stream. Like Harrisville, Pascoag is a principal village of Burrillville that traces its roots back to the first half of the 18th century, when a sawmill and other businesses were built in what is now the village center located along Route 100. Rhode Island horror author HP Lovecraft set part of his story “The Horror of Red Hook” here.
When James Toomey, director of marketing at Blackstone Valley Tourism Council says, “Burrillville probably has the most pizza joints per capita in Rhode Island,” he’s probably talking about Pascoag. In a small radius, find George’s Pizza ‘n Pub, Olympia Famous Pizza, and Serio’s Pizzarama. For deli sammies and burgers, visit Cow’s Tail Deli and Creamery and do not miss one of their six types of specialty fries (cinnamon and sugar!). The Thai Royal Restaurant and Bar is one of the only restaurants offering fresh and authentic Thai-inspired food in the area, and if you are just looking for a classic diner-style burger or hot dog with $1 drafts all day to wash it down, then Pascoag Cafe is the place to eat. Hot spot Bravo Brewing Company is a veteran-owned nanobrewery that donates 1 percent of its annual sales to Home for Our Troops. With an expanded tasting room, it is the place to go.
Love perusing unique vintage and antique collectibles? Check out Little Shoppe of Treasures by Diesel Fuel, a thrift and consignment store.
Rustic charm abounds in Pascoag, especially at Grace Note Farm, a historic 1763 farm house which offers a choice of B&B or farm stay where guests can help with the animals. The grounds are under a conservation easement with the Burrillville Land Trust and is an idyllic location. Enjoy nature, hiking, mountain bike riding or horseback riding in the adjacent George Washington Wildlife Management Area. Owned and operated by Virginia Sindelar, a trained classical musician, the farm hosts monthly indoor concerts, Music at the Farm, every second Sunday of the month featuring world-renowned classical musicians. Last year Grace Note hosted its first Chamber Music Festival, which returns again this June.
Pascoag is also the location of the RI entrance to Wallum Lake via the Wallum Lake Canoe Launch. Hand-carried boat (canoes, kayaks) enthusiasts up for the task can traverse their way to the other side in Douglas, MA (estimated round-trip: five hours). The Pascoag Reservoir is a popular fishing lake, open Memorial Day through Labor Day. A DEM access site, there is a cement plank boat ramp that provides access.
A village within a village is Bridgeton. Now considered part of Pascoag, it’s home to the historic Bridgeton School. Built in 1897, this two-room schoolhouse served the community until 1966. It later opened again as a kindergarten until 1995 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it’s home to the Burrillville Historic and Preservation Society and houses town archives, open by appointment or during special events. Betty Mencucci, principal officer of the society (and local beekeeper; see Glendale), says they will be hosting a spring celebration highlighting local farms in April. A perfect place for a family afternoon is White Mill Park, which has a playground, picnic tables, a fishing area, and walking path.
A small family farm run by four siblings, Mapleville Farm sells fresh produce and doubles as an artisan bake shoppe. Order online from this sweet gang for curbside pick-up of delicious baked bread, pies, cookies, and more. Local seasonal goods are also for sale, such as honey, soap, and flowers. Watch for farm-to-table meal events and a fall farm festival in September.
Want to be transported to Lancaster, PA? Step inside The Village Barn Country Store and Antiques. Full of primitive country decor and antique memorabilia, it’s a treat for shoppers, and for enthusiasts of old-timey stuff, a stop along the Antique Trail (AntiqueTrail.com).
For the outdoor sportsperson, Addieville Farm East is the place: 1,000 acres with a bird habitat and two trout ponds. Here you can learn the art of fly-fishing or shotgunning, test your skills at sporting clays, or experience a European-style hunt (an optimal pheasant hunting experience with two shooters apiece at 12 stations), complete with continental breakfast to meet and greet with your partner, warm up clays, and off to your peg for high-flying pheasants.
Chapman’s Food & Drink is a great place for handheld fare, serving everything from burgers to specialty egg rolls. On the other side of the spectrum is Bella Restaurant, a family-owned restaurant, bar, and banquet facility offering indoor and outdoor dining with sumptuous views – perfect for special events.
Founded in 1987, Betty's Bee Farm sits on 14 acres with 20 colonies of bees run by Betty Mencucci. Honey can be purchased from the farm by appointment or found locally at spots like Mapleville Farm and farmers markets.
The small village of Glendale, considered part of Harrisville, is home to one of Blackstone Valley’s premiere recreational facilities, Spring Lake Beach. Open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, this popular place has fresh-water swimming (with a diving dock and kiddie slide) and boat rentals, and is also home to one of the oldest penny arcades. Spring Lake is within the boundaries of the Black Hut Management Area and offers hiking, birdwatching trails, and wildlife viewing; it is also open for hunting so be sure to wear orange October through May.
Nasonville is home to several locally known restaurants, including Western Hotel Pizza. Formerly a stopping place on the Douglas Turnpike in the early 1800s for food and lodging, the pizza is known as the cheesiest around. Other popular joints are Uncle Ronnie’s Red Tavern, known for live entertainment and dinner specials; and Johnny’s Victory Diner, operating since the 1930s, opens every day at 5am and is the place to get a hearty breakfast or lunch.
Once divided into three parts – Nasonville proper, Mohegan, and Tarkiln – Nasonville was founded in 1825 by Leonard Nason. A little gem just minutes from Western Hotel Pizza is Shrine of the Little Flower at Church of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a place for those seeking a quiet place for spiritual contemplation and connecting with nature. Located at the Our Lady of Good Help Parish, this pilgrimage site for nearly 100 years has grounds surrounded by groves of trees and is open to all denominations. There’s even a gift shop.
On the National Register for Historic Places, Oakland is home to one of the few remaining stone mills, though in fragmented ruins. All of the village is in the historic district and most of the housing was originally built to house the workers. Oakland is considered a pretty village with a mill pond that houses the water from both the Clear River and Chepachet River.
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