Washington County, Rhode Island

Washington County, known locally as South County, is a county located in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. As of the 2010 census, the population was 126,979.[1] Rhode Island counties have no governmental functions other than as court administrative and sheriff corrections boundaries, which are part of the state government.[2]

Washington County, Rhode Island
West Kingston Courthouse
Former Washington County Courthouse in West Kingston
Map of Rhode Island highlighting Washington County

Location within the U.S. state of Rhode Island
Map of the United States highlighting Rhode Island

Rhode Island's location within the U.S.
FoundedJune 3, 1729
SeatSouth Kingstown
Largest townSouth Kingstown
 • Total563 sq mi (1,458 km2)
 • Land329 sq mi (852 km2)
 • Water234 sq mi (606 km2), 41%
Population (est.)
 • (2018)126,179
 • Density386/sq mi (149/km2)
Congressional district2nd
Time zoneEastern: UTC−5/−4


Washington County was created as Kings County in 1729 within the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It was renamed Washington County on October 29, 1781 in honor of George Washington.

At the earliest stage of colonial settlement, the area was called "The Narragansett Country", named after the Algonquin tribe and its tributary tribe the (Eastern) Niantics, both of whom lived in the area. (The Algonquin Nipmucs may have lived in the westernmost part of the town of Hopkinton.)

Early land purchases in the Narragansett Country were effected by English settlers after the establishment of Indian trading posts at Fort Neck, today's town of Charlestown, and at "Smith's Castle", Cocumcussoc, now Wickford. A series of conflicts involving the Manisseans on Block Island gave that island to the Massachusetts Bay Colony for a number of years, before being transferred to the Rhode Island Colony under Newport County, and then finally to Washington County in 1959.

The borders of the Narragansett country were disputed for nearly 100 years among the colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The Narragansetts had pledged their fealty to King Charles, and the area was known as "The King's Province" and was placed under the authority of Rhode Island "until the King's pleasure was further known". In 1664, a royal commission under Charles II stepped in to adjudicate these conflicting claims. The commission extinguished the claims of Massachusetts, and Rhode Island was granted jurisdiction until the commission finished processing Connecticut's appeals, which were not ended until 1726. Settlements of King's Province were named to reflect the English Restoration, in honor of King Charles II. Modern towns reflecting this history include the two Kingstowns and Charlestown, as well as the villages of Kingston and West Kingston.


Downtown Westerly, RI
Historic Downtown Westerly, Rhode Island

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 563 square miles (1,460 km2), of which 329 square miles (850 km2) is land and 234 square miles (610 km2) (41%) is water.[3] It is the largest county in Rhode Island by total area. The county's topography ranges from flat along the shoreline to gently rolling hills farther inland. The highest point is a large area approximately 560 feet (171 m) above sea level in the Exeter neighborhood of Black Plain;[4] the lowest point is sea level along the coast. The northern boundary west of Davisville is approximately 41.60°N. The western boundary north of Westerly is approximately −71.79°W.

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2018126,179[5]−0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2018[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 126,979 people, 49,177 households, and 32,297 families residing in the county.[10] The population density was 385.7 inhabitants per square mile (148.9/km2). There were 62,206 housing units at an average density of 188.9 per square mile (72.9/km2).[11] The racial makeup of the county was 93.8% white, 1.6% Asian, 1.2% black or African American, 0.9% American Indian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.4% of the population.[10]

The largest ancestry groups were:[12]

  • 27.8% Irish
  • 21.4% Italian
  • 19.9% English
  • 11.4% French
  • 10.8% German
  • 4.9% Portuguese
  • 4.8% Polish
  • 4.3% French Canadian
  • 3.5% Scottish
  • 2.9% Swedish
  • 2.7% American
  • 2.5% Scotch-Irish
  • 1.4% Russian

Of the 49,177 households, 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 26.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.95. The median age was 42.3 years.[10]

The median income for a household in the county was $70,285 and the median income for a family was $87,999. Males had a median income of $59,598 versus $44,851 for females. The per capita income for the county was $34,737. About 3.4% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.[13]


Map of Washington County Rhode Island With Municipal Labels
Map of Washington County, Rhode Island showing towns, census-designated places, and Narragansett tribal lands


Census-designated places

Other villages

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  2. ^ "National Associations of Counties listing for Washington County, Rhode Island". naco.org. Archived from the original on 7 May 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  3. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  4. ^ 41°35′09″N 71°39′16″W / 41.58583°N 71.65444°W
  5. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  8. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  13. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  14. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2018.

External links

Coordinates: 41°23′N 71°37′W / 41.39°N 71.62°W

Ashaway, Rhode Island

Ashaway is an unincorporated village and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Hopkinton in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. It is a principal village of Hopkinton, along with Hope Valley, although it is the smaller of the two. The population was 1,485 at the 2010 census. The name Ashaway is derived from the American Indian name for the river that runs through the village, the Ashawague or Ashawaug, which means "land in the middle" or "land between" in the Niantic and Mohegan languages. The name "Ashawague River" appears as late as 1832 on the Findley map of Rhode Island published in Philadelphia, PA.

Bradford, Rhode Island

Bradford is a census-designated place (CDP) and historic district in the towns of Westerly and Hopkinton in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 1,497 at the 2000 census. The Bradford Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as a 224-acre (91 ha) area including 149 contributing buildings, one other contributing site, and one other contributing structure. The CDP as defined by the United States Census Bureau is located only in Westerly.

Bradford was named for Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.

Charlestown, Rhode Island

Charlestown is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 7,827 at the 2010 census.

Ell Pond (Rhode Island)

Ell Pond is a kettle hole in Hopkinton, Washington County, Rhode Island. It is surrounded by a swamp of red maple and Atlantic white cypress, and by steep granitic monadnocks. The small area contains communities of both hydrophytic and xeric plants, which makes it ideal for ecological research and education. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in May 1974. In 1972, the Nature Conservancy purchased 50 acres (20 ha) including the pond to extend 218 acres (88 ha) of protected land owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the 1,002 acres (405 ha) of Rockville Wildlife Management Area owned by the state. The preserve is jointly managed by all three entities. There are hiking trails in the preserve, but Ell pond is specifically not reachable due to its fragile environment.

Exeter, Rhode Island

Exeter is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. Exeter extends east from the Connecticut border to the town of North Kingstown. It is bordered to the north by West Greenwich and East Greenwich, and to the south by Hopkinton, Richmond, and South Kingstown. Exeter's postal code is 02822, although small parts of the town have the mailing address West Kingston (02892) or Saunderstown (02874). The population was 6,425 at the 2010 census.

Exeter was named for the Earl of Exeter.

Hera Gallery

Hera Gallery is a small, non-profit artist cooperative in Wakefield, Rhode Island USA. Created within the context of the feminist art movement, Hera Gallery was a pioneer in the genesis of artist-run spaces. Its founding objective in 1974 was to provide a venue for women artists, under-represented at the time in commercial galleries. As the cultural climate changed in the 1980s, the gallery broadened its scope to include visual artists of both genders. Concurrently, Hera curated more topical exhibitions with a broadened spectrum of social awareness and activism. To this day, the gallery provides contemporary artists with the opportunity to address cultural, social, and political issues and to maintain creative control.

Hope Valley, Rhode Island

Hope Valley is a village and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Hopkinton in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population of the CDP was 1,649 at the 2000 census. Hope Valley is the largest village in Hopkinton and the town's principal commercial center. While the village of Hope Valley is located in Hopkinton, its zip code, 02832, extends into the neighboring town of Richmond.The central portion of the village was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 as the Hope Valley Historic District. The 183-acre (74 ha) historic district includes 134 contributing buildings and three other contributing structures.

Kingston, Rhode Island

Kingston is a village and a census-designated place in the town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, United States, and the site of the main campus of the University of Rhode Island. Much of the village center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Kingston Village Historic District. It was originally known as Little Rest.

Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island

Narragansett Pier is an unincorporated village and a census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Narragansett in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 3,671 at the 2000 census.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Washington County, Rhode Island

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Washington County, Rhode Island.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for many National Register properties and districts; these locations may be seen together in a map.There are 132 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county, including 4 National Historic Landmarks.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 14, 2019.

New England Airlines

New England Airlines is a regional airline based in Westerly, Rhode Island, USA. With a main base at Westerly State Airport, it provides scheduled service to Block Island and operates charters to other destinations.

Pawcatuck River

The Pawcatuck River is a river in the US states of Rhode Island and Connecticut flowing approximately 34 miles (55 km). There are eight dams along the river's length. USS Pawcatuck was named after the river.

Point Judith, Rhode Island

Point Judith is a village and a small cape, on the coast of Narragansett, Rhode Island, on the western side of Narragansett Bay where it opens out onto Rhode Island Sound.

It is the location for the year-round ferry service that connects Block Island to the mainland and contains the fishing hamlet of Galilee, Rhode Island.

Saunderstown, Rhode Island

Saunderstown is a small village and historic district in the towns of Narragansett and North Kingstown in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States.

Tomaquag Rock Shelters

The Tomaquag Rock Shelters (RI-HP-1) are a rockshelter site off Maxson Hill Road (formerly Burdickville Road) in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. The shelters are located under two east-facing granite outcrops in the valley drained by Tomaquag Brook. First discovered in the late 1950s by Nathan Kaye, materials recovered from test excavations resulted in the dating the occupation of one shelter to 800 BCE and the other to 800 CE. Materials recovered include projectile points, stone knives, and evidence of stone tool construction. Both sites included evidence pointing to the presence of a fire pit.The shelters were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.The shelters were gifted from Nathan Kaye to the State of Rhode Island in 1982. In 1996 the State Properties Committee entered into a "Park Use Agreement" with the Town of Hopkinton to preserve the shelter site. The Hopkinton Planning Board entered a requirement that the cultural aspects of the shelter be protected in a Master Plan agreement with the developers of a proposed solar farm across the road from the site on January 4, 2019.

University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island, commonly referred to as URI, is the flagship public research as well as the land grant and sea grant university for the state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in the village of Kingston in southern Rhode Island. Additionally, smaller campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.

The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in 80 undergraduate and 49 graduate areas of study through eight academic colleges. These colleges include Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Professional Studies, Engineering, Health Sciences, Environment and Life Sciences, Nursing, and Pharmacy. Another college, University College for Academic Success, serves primarily as an advising college for all incoming undergraduates and follows them through their first two years of enrollment at URI.

As of 2019, the University of Rhode Island enrolls 14,653 undergraduate students, 1,982 graduate students, and 1,339 non-degree students. The average SAT score of students at the University is 1185, while the ACT scores average a 25, and the average GPA is 3.54. The in-state tuition for undergrad URI students in 2018-2019 is $14,138, while Regional students paid $22,324 for tuition, and out of state students paid $30,862. 75% of students received some type of financial aid.U.S. News & World Report classifies URI as a tier 1 national university, ranking it tied for 157th in the U.S.

Wakefield, Rhode Island

Wakefield is a village in the town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, and the commercial center of the town. Together with the village of Peace Dale, it is treated by the U.S. Census as a component of the census-designated place identified as Wakefield-Peacedale, Rhode Island. West Kingston, another South Kingstown village, was the traditional county seat of Washington County. Since 1991, the Washington County Courthouse has been in Wakefield. The Sheriff's Office which handles corrections is also in Wakefield.

The Wakefield village center along Main Street (old Boston Post Road) between Belmont Avenue and Columbia Street was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as Wakefield Historic District. The district is significant for being an early commercial and industrial center. The district includes 53 properties over an area of 400 acres (1.6 km2), which is separately listed on the National Register.

The Narragansett Times, a twice-weekly paper serving Narragansett and South Kingstown, is published in Wakefield.

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Watch Hill is an affluent coastal village and census-designated place in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island. It sits at the most-southwestern point in all of Rhode Island. It came to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century as an exclusive summer resort, with wealthy families building sprawling Victorian-style "cottages" along the peninsula. Watch Hill is characterized by The New York Times as a community "with a strong sense of privacy and of discreetly used wealth," in contrast with "the overpowering castles of the very rich" in nearby Newport.

Westerly, Rhode Island

Westerly is a town on the southwestern shoreline of Washington County, Rhode Island, first settled by English colonists in 1661 and incorporated as a municipality in 1669. It is a beachfront community on the south shore of the state with a population of 22,787 as of the 2010 census.

The Pawcatuck River flows on the western border of Westerly and was once renowned for its own species of Westerly salmon, three of which are on the town's official seal. The river flows from 15 mi (24 km) inland, emptying into Little Narragansett Bay. It also serves as the boundary between Westerly and Pawcatuck, Connecticut. Three large salt ponds lie along the coast of Westerly which serve as shallow, reef-like pools whose outer walls form the long, white beaches for which the town is renowned. From west to east, these ponds are Maschaug Pond, Winnapaug Pond, and Quonochontaug Pond.

The Westerly area was known for its granite and stone-cutting industry, which quarried a unique stone known as Westerly granite. This pinkish granite is ideal for statuary and has been used in numerous government buildings of several states on the eastern seaboard.Westerly becomes a popular tourist destination during the summer months, during which the population nearly doubles. Its well-known beaches include Weekapaug Beach, Westerly Town Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, East Beach, and Watch Hill Beach.

Places adjacent to Washington County, Rhode Island
Municipalities and communities of Washington County, Rhode Island, United States

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