The Scituate Reservoir

Sunken Mills

Scituate Early History

"The Scituate Reservoir represents a host of different meanings to the thousands of people whom it supplies. It can be a bracing cup of coffee or a relaxing hot shower...Today the reservoir is taken for granted by Scituate residents, but in 1914 it was the worst catastrophe the people of Ashland, Kent, Saundersville, Ponaganset, Rockland, and Richmond could imagine." (American Studies Class, Scituate Jr./Sr. High School, 73)

Heavy industrial growth and adequate fire protection were amongst the primary reasons the Providence City Council began to seek more suitable water supplies. In 1858 it appointed a committee to design a solution. The final report presented included an argument for pure drinking water in addition to the previously mentioned reasons.

By 1871 the first pipeline from the Pawtuxet River pumped water into the Sockanosett Reservoir and the Fruit Hill Reservoir. But by 1913 the Providence City Council sought a resolution to increase the supply of water for the city of Providence. In secret sessions the Council developed plans for a watershed that would span 3 years of construction with an estimated cost of $8 - $9 million. In 1915 the General Assembly ratified the bill proposed by the City Council. The selected site of the condemned portions of Glocester, Foster, Coventry, Cranston, and with largest area to be condemned were areas of Scituate. The final tally of entire villages condemned included Rockland, Kent, Ashland, Wilbur Hollow, South Scituate, Richmond, Saundersville, and Ponaganset. North Scituate and Clayville lost partial area.

The toll of structures included "1,195 buildings including 375 houses, 233 barns, 7 schools, 6 churches, 6 mills, 30 dairy farms, 11 ice houses, 5 halls, post offices, taverns, general stores, blacksmith and wheelwright shops, cider mills, two fire stations, and an electric railway system (the Providence and Danielson Railroad). Each building was photographed for the Water Supply Board by John R. Hess, then duly recorded." (Sarkesian 77) The North Scituate Public Library and the RI Historical Society now maintain the photographic records acquired from the Water Supply Board as well as historical records from condemnation to final construction.

Reservoir Trivia


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