Town prepares to turn over Valentine Whitman House

March 24, 2021

Lincoln officials have again pledged to hand over the Valentine Whitman House to Preserve Rhode Island. During a tour of the property in spring 2019, the President of the City Council, Keith Macksoud, PRI Managing Director Valerie Talmage, and City Councilors TJ Russo and Ken Pichette can be seen. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – Valentine Whitman House, one of the oldest surviving houses in town, is ready for another chapter.

After more than a year of planning and multiple delays due to the pandemic, Lincoln officials are about to officially hand the house over to Preserve Rhode Island, the nonprofit interested in saving the property.

Rhode Island’s final 1696 report on Valentine Whitman House named it one of Lincoln’s greatest historic landmarks, “a rare and essentially intact first-period stone Ender house” on the corner of Great Road and Whelan Drive.

After decades of private ownership, the house was bought by the city in 1991 and the Friends of Valentine Whitman House volunteer group opened a museum there to share the property’s rich history.

Officials needing more extensive repairs than the city or the volunteer group could muster began exploring a new future for the home in recent years and eventually agreed to partner with Preserve Rhode Island

“After nearly three years of research, tendering and financial planning, PRI is in a position to acquire Valentine Whitman House and embark on a major rehabilitation project to ensure it will last for generations,” the report said.

Preserve Rhode Island has developed a comprehensive plan for the property that will undergo a historic $ 500,000 renovation. Construction is expected to start in summer 2021.

The rehabilitation specifications are based on national and state maintenance standards, according to the group.

The general floor plan will not change, but new bathrooms, a kitchen and a laundry room will be added to existing rooms “while all new plumbing and electrical components are carefully hidden”. The house will also receive a new HVAC system and improve the landscape.

The plaster walls are stabilized and repaired, wooden floors are refinished and the bathrooms are tiled where the original floors were removed. In the basement, the floor is leveled, the moisture is removed and the foundation is re-laid as necessary.

Outside, the scope of the exterior work includes a new wood shingle roof, the removal of non-original shingles on the side walls and reintroduction of the shingle side wall, as well as a full window restoration.

The non-profit organization also plans to re-seal the chimney, repair and paint wood paneling, and redesign the house’s significant “stone end” facade.

Preserve Rhode Island is considering three options for the final outcome of the Valentine Whitman House once the work is complete.

The first is to partner with The Landmark Trust USA to offer short term vacation rentals.

Preserve Rhode Island said this was their preferred option as it gives the public access to the property. The financial feasibility is currently unclear in view of the effects of the pandemic on the hotel industry.

The other options are to build a long-term residential rental property with PRI as the landlord or to sell it to a private owner.

The latter would be subject to permanent conservation measures to protect the historical and architectural features of the historic building. The relief includes a language that from time to time allows public access.

The decision on reuse will be made later in 2021.

After last year’s meeting of the Regulations Committee, three notices related to the transfer of ownership will be further examined in the coming months.

The city council re-sent the notices (an agreement on property transportation, the final project summary from PRI and a draft conservation measure) to the regulation committee last week.

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