Nestled in a quiet residential area of Coventry is a gem from Rhode Island’s Revolutionary past. It is the home of General Nathanael Greene, one of Washington’s most trusted generals. It is a two and a half story colonial house with four rooms on each floor divided by a large hallway. Greene built this house in 1770 with the help of family. It was the same year that Nathanael was selected to be the resident manager of the Coventry Iron Works which was on the same property. Greene worked at the forge making large ship anchors and chains until his military enlistment. It remained in the Greene family (through his brother Jacob’s line) for many years and some of the furnishings and items you see would have been used in the homestead when Nathanael lived there.

The Greene Homestead has ties to many moments in the history of the War for Independence. On the night of April 19, 1775, Greene received news of the fighting at Lexington. Greene at once mounted his horse and rode to join his militia. Although he was raised a Quaker, Greene had joined the Kentish Guards in East Greenwich. He entered military service as a private, but three weeks later he received a commission from the Rhode Island State Legislature as a Brigadier General in the Army of Observation.

In the first year of the war the homestead served as a convalescent home for officers who had been vaccinated against small pox. George Washington had mandated that American soldiers be vaccinated, but the procedure was new and there were often severe reactions to the vaccine.

Lafayette is said to have visited the house on occasion. On July 24, 1778, Washington sent Greene to help in the effort to dislodge the British from Aquidneck Island. He left camp in New Jersey and rode 170 miles in three days, arrive at the homestead on July 30. For the first time in their lives, Greene, his wife Catherine and the Green children were together at the same place.

Greene left his family about a week later for Providence and on to Tiverton. The American Commanding Officer, John Sullivan, assigned Greene to the right wing and Lafayette to the left wing. This was to be the first joint effort of the Americans and French, but things did not go as planned and the French decided to leave for Boston when their ships were damaged in a storm. Greene and his friend Lafayette were given the diplomatic duty of smoothing relations between Admiral d’Estaing of the French and Sullivan who vocally expressed his anger.

When the French did indeed sail off, Greene commanded forces in the Battle of Rhode Island. Afterwards Greene returned to the homestead once again. He left for military supply business in Boston, but received word that his third child had been born. He hurried home to Coventry. From dates of letters to Washington from the homestead, Greene stayed in Coventry until at least early October of 1778 when he returned to service. He was back at Washington’s side managing the military supplies as quartermaster.

When the French army stayed in Newport in 1780, Mrs. Greene entertained the Commissary of the French Army, a Captain of the Royal Deux Ponts and a French hospital chaplain at the Homestead.

In 1783 Greene moved his family to property he had been given in Newport and he sold the Homestead to his brother Jacob. Nathanael would ultimately move his family to a plantation in Georgia where he met his death at a young age. Generations of Jacob’s descendants would live in the house until 1899. When the property came up for sale in 1919, the Kent County Sons of the American Revolution sought to buy the house in honor of Greene. A number of state and local organizations helped to buy and restore a home some consider “The Mount Vernon of Rhode Island.”

To Visit the Homestead.

50 Taft Street, Coventry, RI 02816

Open April through October – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10AM to 5PM


Golway, Terry. Washington’s General. New York, Holt, 2006.

Booklet from the Homestead: General Nathanael Greene and His Homestead.

Application to the National Registry of Historic Places.a