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Cranston Historical Society Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
Protect, preserve, promote.

Those are the words Sandra Moyer, president of the Cranston Historical Society, uses to succinctly explain the Society’s mission. She explains that the nonprofit group, founded in 1949, protects the two historic buildings it owns, the Governor Sprague Mansion and Joy Homestead; preserves the written history and artifacts of Cranston; and promotes Cranston’s history through research, publication, and online material.

Sprague Mansion, which serves as the Society’s headquarters, is located on Cranston Street in what once was known as Spragueville. It was here that in 1808 the Sprague family founded Sprague Print Works, the forerunner of today’s Cranston Print Works. The original part of the house was built in the late 18th century, with a significant addition constructed in 1864. Many generations of the family lived in the house, and it is where both Governors William Sprague were born. The Society purchased the building in 1966.

Joy Homestead was built circa 1774 by the Joy family, who were farmers and shoemakers. In 1781, the family witnessed French soldiers, led by General Rochambeau, passing by on their way to join George Washington’s army in New York. The homestead, on Cranston’s Scituate Avenue, is designated as a historic site on the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) and has been owned by the Society since 1959.

Sandra notes the financial challenges of preserving the historic buildings, and long advocated for the Society to establish an endowment fund. The initially small fund grew considerably about five years ago when Bob Carosi, a former Society board member, left the organization its first bequest. A second bequest followed in 2012 from a woman, unknown to the Society, who had a partial share in a neighboring home. Other funds have come from memorial gifts given in the name of deceased members.

Sandra credits Steve Frias, the Society’s finance chair, and resident managers Gregg and Mary Mierka with helping to persuade the Board to transfer the funds to the Foundation. “At the Foundation, we know the endowment will last, will be professionally managed, and will give us a steady source of income,” she states.
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