Mary Mowry House

Helping to create health and wellness through farm-therapy programming for the community

Mary Mowry House Curatorship

Background

In 2011 Revive the Roots, a non-profit formed by recent highschool graduates, received permission and a lease from the Town of Smithfield and the Smithfield Land Trust to begin using a property donated by Mary Mowry as a hub for community, permaculture and ecological regeneration. The group organized clean-up days, planted fruit and nut trees, and developed a community garden. In 2013 they asked to embark on a project to revive the boarded up and rapidly deteriorating historic Mary Mowry House on the adjacent town-owned property. Developing a plan in collaboration with Preserve RI and the Smithfield Land Trust, Revive the Roots brought the house back into use and developed Rhode Island’s first live-in curatorship  program. This curatorship program has transformed the historic Mowry House from an endangered, unlivable structure to a base of operations for the non-profit and landmark for the town. 

Opportunity

Revive the Roots is working to have permanence at the Mary Mowry House and is currently discussing options with the Town of Smithfeild and the Smithfield Land Trust. One option is for Revive the Roots to take over ownership of the property ensuring that the community gardens, walking trails and outdoor facilities will continue to be maintained by on-site members of the organization and volunteers, and that the house will remain a site for education and land stewardship.

Revive the Roots’ flagship project Mowry Commons (21 acres that includes the Mary Mowry House)  will celebrate its 10th anniversary April 2021. At a moment in time saturated with anxieties about the future of our planet and our political landscape, and the loss of opportunities for youth there is an acute need for public spaces that offer more. Lasting lessons from COVID-19 and 2020 teach us that outdoor spaces need to be functional, multi-purpose and equitable. Within the mission statement of Revive the Roots is a direct commitment to this need: “to create ecologically regenerative and dynamic social spaces…”  is half of Revive the Roots’ two part mission. The second “… through the education and practice of permaculture” is the road map used to bring people together and steward the land. Individuals and groups have worked with Revive the Roots to create outdoor art galleries, grow their own food, run educational and creative programs for kids and families, and build spontaneous outdoor nature art throughout the wooded trails. Revive the Roots and Mowry Commons is an example of the good that can be achieved through multi-generational collaboration, youth led initiatives, and volunteer efforts.

Goals

In addition to keeping the house as a part of publicly accessible Smithfield history, Revive the Roots will continue to use the house and their mission as an inspiration for the achievements of volunteer efforts and responsible stewardship of farmland and nature. The Mowry House tells the story of Smithfeild’s early families and of dedicated young people valuing historical structures and learning from past generations to bring a vulnerable historic house into its next phase of life. Revive the Roots will continue to manage the curatorship program, using the house as base of operations and an affordable residence for people dedicated to sustainable practices and volunteerism. In addition the newly revived house will be regularly opened to the community for tours, seed swaps, lectures on beekeeping, and Porch Days to be held on the newly rebuilt historic porch. This next chapter opens up the natural world and lessons from the past to be experienced by the public. It keeps the knowledge grown over generations of farming within the historic farming community of Smithfeild; it inspires a future of collectively learning and working with nature.

Gratitude

This project has depended on the help and support of many people and organizations. We would like to particularly acknowledge: The Smithfield Land Trust, The Smithfield Town Council, Smithfield Historic Preservation Commission and Preserve Rhode Island. 

For all question and  inquiries please email, hannah@revivetheroots.org with the subject line “Mary Mowry House”

Who was Mary Mowry?

Mary Mowry was born in Providence, but she fell in love with Smithfield. After retiring from a career in education, she dedicated her life to preserving Smithfield’s history and protecting its land. She donated more than 100 acres to the town through the Smithfield Land Trust. Part of her donation was the land that we call Mowry Commons, and her home, which serves as Revive the Roots’ headquarters. During her lifetime she was known for her beautiful and extensive flower gardens. In the twilight of her life and after her death these gardens were overtaken by weeds and her efforts were temporarily forgotten. As Revive the Roots has cleared brush, cut saplings and pulled weeds we have uncovered Mary’s treasures, Daffodils, tulips, iris, hyacinth, crocus and lilacs to name a few. It is our wish as the current stewards of Mary’s land to replant and expand these gardens. Revive the Roots is preserving Mary’s legacy so future generations can fall in love with Smithfield too.

Links and Articles
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May 30th 3pm to 4pm
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June 27th 3pm to 4pm
July 25th 3pm to 4pm
August 29th 3pm to 4pm
September 26th 3pm to 4pm

Tyler Desmarais

Temple Builder (grounds development)

tdesmarais7@gmail.com

    Annie Bayer

    Veggies and Volunteers Liaison

    annie@revivetheroots.org

      Hannah Martin

      Community Building

      hannah@revivetheroots.org

        Bradford Adelard

        Arts and Innovation

        bradford@revivetheroots.org

          © Revive the Roots, 2018