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As Woonsocket's hub for the Providence Worcester Railroad, and later the Woonsocket Street Railroad, Depot Square became the transportation center of the city.
Providence and Worcester Railroad Depot
Designed for the Providence and Worcester Railroad, the Woonsocket Depot is an elaborately decorated brick building which was the finest on-line passenger depot on the P&W line. It replaced the original 1847 depot which was destroyed by fire. The station has been converted into offices and is now the headquarters for the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor.
194-202 - Main Street
Before the construction of this four story office block with bulging bay windows, this was the site of the First Baptist Church
Park at City Hall
This lovely little park sits on the site of the former McCarthy's Dry Goods Store. McCarthy's, a major retailer in Woonsocket for over a hundred years, was founded in 1889 and moved to this location in 1914. A painting of the former McCarthy's Building can be seen on the side of City Hall and the original McCarthy's clock has been erected in the park. The store eventually closed its doors after moving to the Walnut Hill Plaza in the 1960's. From the rear of the park are views of the Bernon Mills, the Woonsocket Court House and the Court Street Bridge. At the front of the park stands a rare 18th century millstone.
Court Street Bridge
Originally known as the Hamlet Avenue Bridge, the first bridge at this site was a rickety wooden structure built in 1868. The bridge rested on wooden posts imbedded into rocks at the bottom of the Blackstone River. Thoroughly inadequate for the growing level of traffic entering Depot Square, complaints about this bridge led to calls for the construction of a new, more substantial structure in the early 1890's.
Construction of the original Court Street Bridge began in 1893. Several buildings on the Main Street had to be moved or demolished to provide access to the bridge from Depot Square. In a novel approach, trusses for this 562 foot bridge were placed below the bridge deck to allow unobstructed of views across the river. When completed in 1895, the new bridge contained 100,000 rivets, 40,000 bolts and weighed 1,850 tons.
The Court Street Bridge was dedicated on June 22, 1895 before a crowd of 15,000. Considering that Woonsocket's population at the time was 25,000, this was a major community event. The centerpiece was a huge arch that spelled out "City of Woonsocket". Lights were also strung the length of the bridge. Ceremonies included a parade, band music and speeches by Mayor Aram Pothier and Woonsocket historian Erastus Richardson.
In 1899, the Court Bridge was the starting point for Woonsocket's first Labor Day Parade. The Industrial Trade Union kept the Labor Day Parade tradition alive through the 1940's and 1950's. Recently, the Greater Woonsocket Labor Council and the Museum of Work and Culture have reinstated this 100-year-old Labor Day tradition.
The original Court Street Bridge served as a vital link between Bernon and Depot Square for 104 years until it was demolished with strategically placed explosive charges on January 22, 1999. Its replacement was completed in July of 2000, reestablishing this historic crossing over the Blackstone.
10-18 Court Street
Located on the corner of Court and Clinton Streets, this two story brick faced commercial block with intricately patterned wood trim occupies and important location on Depot Square.
231-233 Main Street
This three story office block was the headquarters of Union St. Jean-Baptiste until they built their new headquarters at 1-19 Social Street.
237-245 Main Street
Recently remodeled, the historic Hope Building is now the home to Woonsocket Family Resources.
295 Main Street
The history of the postal service in Woonsocket begins with Dan Dainiels who maintained the first post office in the Woonsocket Falls Village on the site of what is now One Main Street. It remained there until 1865 when the Post Office was moved to the Harris Block, now City Hall. This fine Beaux Arts Classical Building, now part of the YMCA, served as the city's post office for 65 years from its construction in 1910 until it was replaced by the new post office on Social Street in 1976. It stands on the original site of the Methodist Church.
Old Post Office
Click here to continue your walk down Main Street.
This page utilizes information from:
For Woonsocket residents, these references are available at the Woonsocket Harris Public Library.
- Statewide Historic Preservation Report for Woonsocket, Rhode Island published by the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission in September, 1976.
- Woonsocket, Rhode Island - A Centennial History 1888 - 1988 published by the Woonsocket Centennial Committee in 1988.
- Woonsocket Call, Main Street 2000 Development Corporation section, December 16, 1997
- Images of America - Woonsocket written by Robert R. Bellerose and published by Arcadia Publishing, Dover, NH, 1997.
- History of Providence County Rhode Island edited by Richard M. Bayles and published by W. W. Peston & Co., New York, 1891
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