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Chepachet Village Historic District
|Location||Glocester, Rhode Island|
|NRHP reference No.||71000031 |
|Added to NRHP||March 31, 1971|
Chepachet is a village and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Glocester in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It is centered at the intersection of U.S. Route 44 (a.k.a. Putnam Pike) and Rhode Island Route 102 (also known as Victory Highway and Chopmist Hill Road). Chepachet's ZIP code is 02814. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 1,675.
Leading up to the American Revolution, the area was a hotbed for supporters of independence, and the Gloucester Light Infantry was founded in the Chepachet in 1774. During the Revolutionary War Loyalists from Newport were exiled near Chepachet, including Thomas Vernon, who recorded election celebrations in Chepachet in 1776:
This being the day for the choice of Deputies (members of the General Assembly). We are told that there is a very great resort of people of all kinds at Chepasseh, and that it is a day of great frolicking. Our landlord and his three sons are gone, having rigged themselves out in the best manner. [A] man on horseback passed by (together with many others) with a very large bag full of cakes made by Granne West (mother to the General William West) which are to be sold to the people.
In 1842, Chepachet was the setting of the endgame of the Dorr Rebellion, which helped to win voting rights for non-landowners in a new state Constitution.
On 4 November 1923, horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and his fellow writer C. M. Eddy, Jr. ventured to Chepachet in search of a place known as "Dark Swamp" of which they had heard rumors. They never located it, but the region inspired at least the opening of Lovecraft's story (novelette) "The Colour Out of Space", and the setting contributed to Eddy's unfinished story "Black Noon". Chepachet is also mentioned several times in Lovecraft's story (novelette) "The Horror at Red Hook".
In the 1940s, a US Navy auxiliary ship, the fleet fuel oil tanker, USS Chepachet, was named after the Chepachet River which runs through the village. The ship's bell is displayed at the seat of town government, and the ship's surviving crew had a 50th anniversary reunion in the town in 1998.
Beginning with a proclamation in 1976, May 25 is recognized as "Elephant Day". On that date in 1826, a popular elephant known as Betty the Learned Elephant from a traveling show was shot and killed while she was crossing the bridge spanning the Chepachet River. A group of six "hooligans" led by Canton Smith of nearby North Scituate faced charges for the crime. A commemorative plaque marks the historic location on the bridge.
The area, part of the town of Glocester, is part of the Foster-Glocester Regional School District, meaning Ponaganset High School is the only secondary school for residents of Chepachet. West Glocester Elementary, an elementary school in Chepachet, is part of the Glocester Elementary School District. The regional district is currently reviewing the Ponaganset High School & Middle School mascot, the Chieftain, as the local Native American tribe, the Nipmuc, have been asking for decades that it be changed.
The village has many local shops and businesses including:
- Brown & Hopkins General Store
- Dino's Park & Shop
- Tavern on Main
- Trish Hampton Dog Boutique
- Village Bean Cafe
- White Rock Motel
Chepachet antique store
Thomas W. Dorr, leader of the 1842 rebellion, as pictured in an 1844 book frontispiece
Chepachet Free Baptist Church, c. 1905. The meeting house was built in 1821.
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Providence County, Rhode Island
- Ancient and Horribles Parade
- Dorr Rebellion
- Ponaganset High School
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Chepachet, Rhode Island
- "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Chepachet CDP, Rhode Island". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
- Thomas Vernon Diary, pg. 76–78
- Kent, Edna M. "Betty The Learned Elephant". Chepachet.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- "CHEPACHET GLOCESTER, RI – Walking Tour" (PDF). Heritage Corridor Commission. p. 3. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
[A]s Betty's show hit the road this time, two of the six youthful conspirators instigated by Smith, aiming from a window in the second story of a gristmill, fired on the elephant as she walked across the "rustic" span. The shots were fatal, and the six hooligans faced charges for their cruel deed
- Aldrich, Lewis Cass (1891). History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vermont. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co. p. 223.