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Coventry is a town in Kent Countymarker, Rhode Islandmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 33,668 at the 2000 census.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 62.3 sq mi. 59.5 sq mi of it is land and 2.8 sq mi of it (4.49%) is water. The town is bordered by West Warwickmarker to the east, Fostermarker, Scituatemarker, and Cranstonmarker to the north, West Greenwichmarker and East Greenwichmarker to the south, and Sterlingmarker, Connecticutmarker to the west. It is the largest town in land area in Rhode Island, being surpassed in total area only by South Kingstown, Rhode Islandmarker, with water and land area of 50.8 square miles.

History

Coventry was first settled in the early 18th century, when the town was part of Warwick. Since the area was so far away from the center of Warwick, the area that became Coventry grew very slowly. However, by 1741, enough farmers (about 100 families) had settled in the area that they petitioned the General Assembly of Rhode Island to create their own town. The petition was granted, and the new town was named Coventry, after a city in central England. For the rest of the 18th century, Coventry remained a rural town populated by farmers. Among the buildings that survive are the Waterman Tavern (1740s), the Nathanael Greene Homestead (1770), and the Paine Homestead (late 1600s/early 1700s). The oldest church in Coventry, Maple Root Baptist Church, dates from the end of the 18th century.

During the War of Independence, the people of Coventry were supporters of the patriot cause. Nathanael Greene, a resident of Coventry, rose through the ranks to become a leading general of the American army. By the end of the war, Greene was second in command in the US army after George Washington

In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution came to Coventry with the building of the first mill in Anthony. Over the next century, the eastern end of town became very industrialized, with manufacturing centers being located in Anthony, Washington, Quidnick, and Harris villages. Many of the old factories still stand in the town, and the village centers (in particular Anthony and Quidnick) remain mostly intact. The demographics of the town also changed as these new mill villages were populated by French Canadian and Irish immigrants. By the end of the 19th century, almost one fourth of the population was born outside the US, and French was the primary language for many of the people in the eastern part of Coventry. Not all immigrants, however, worked in the factories. Census records from the late 19th century show that some of them owned farms.

By comparison, the western end of the town remained very rural, with the only centers of population being located at Greene and Summit, both being established as railroad stations on the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.
In the 20th century, the town went through much change. The advent of the automobile brought an end of the railroad (which was dismantled in the 1970s, and only within the past 10 years, revitalized as the Washington Secondary Rail Trail|Greenway). Most of the old factories closed during this time. In the late 21st century, many new people moved to Coventry, most of them being from the Providence area. These new comers moved because of the large amount of land available to build on. The eastern part of the town became suburbanized. Currently, there is a movement in the town to limit new homes in order to keep the rural flavor of the western part of the town.

Possible New Town of Westconnaug

In February 2008, Rhode Island State Representative Nicholas Gorham proposed legislation tocreate a super town of rural communities, including the western part of Coventry, in an effort to consolidate local government. Other towns that would be included in this proposed town of "Westconnaug" are West Greenwichmarker, Exetermarker, Fostermarker, Glocestermarker, and Scituatemarker.

Recreation

Coventry enjoys some of the best recreation facilities in Rhode Island. The town has youth sport leagues for football (boasting the 2006 American Youth Football National title), basketball, baseball, and softball. Carbuncle Pond, off of Rt 14 (Plainfield Pike) near the Connecticut border, is a wonderful 39 acre pond that boasts some of the best freshwater fishing in the state. During fishing season, one can find many a fisherman casting lines into the pond. At the south end of the pond, is a wonderfully preserved railroad trestle, rising high up above the pond. Johnson's Pond is also a great spot for fishing and watersports. Wakeboarding Magazine rated Johnson's Pond as the best spot for wakeboarding in Rhode Island. For hikers and lovers of nature, the 860 acre George B Parker Woodland on Maple Valley road offers several trails to go hiking on. The trails make a great day trip for amateur hikers. The Woodland has an old forest, brooks, several old farm sites, an old quarry, and mysterious stone cairns. No one knows who created the cairns and it has been decided that it will remain a mystery, allowing visitors to decide for themselves who built them and why. The caretaker's home dates from the mid 18th century. The Woodland is owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
Audobon Trail in Coventry


Recently, the town has been investing in the Coventry Greenway. The Coventry Greenway is a bike/hiking path using the old New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad right of way and is part of the East Coast Greenway (Nationally) and . The path travels 15 miles from the Connecticutmarker State line to the West Warwickmarker town line. Currently 2.7 miles are paved in the center of Coventry with plans to pave more of the Greenway west to Sterling CT as well as east towards West Warwick.

Villages

Coventry has a large number of old villages dating from the 19th century, they are:

Anthony - Mill village in the eastern part of town.

Greenemarker - Old railroad village in the western end of town.

Harris - Mill village in the northeastern part of town.

Hopkins Hollow - Rural hamlet in the southwestern part of town, almost unchanged in over 150 years.

Quidnick - Mill village on the border of West Warwick.

Rice City - Rural village in the northwestern part of town, dominated by Rice Tavern (1804), which used to serve travelers on their way to Connecticut.

Summit - Railroad village near Greene.

Washington - Mill village in the center of the town.

Historic Homes

Coventry boasts many old homes, churches and cemeteries. Farmhouses from the 18th century can be found scattered around the town, and many are still private residences. On the eastern side of town, many homes from the 19th century can be found, ranging from the 2 family mill workers residence to mansions owned by the town elites. The village of Greene and the Rice City and Hopkins Hollow parts of town have remained unchanged since the 19th century. Also, many of the churches in Coventry date from the 19th century and are still functioning churches.

National Historic Places in Coventry

Demographics

Coventry was named for Coventrymarker, West Midlands, United Kingdommarker.

As of the census of 2000, there were 33,668 people, 12,596 households, and 9,295 families residing in the town. The population density was 565.5 people per square mile (218.3/km²). There were 13,059 housing units at an average density of 219.3/sq mi (84.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.60% White, 0.39% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.31% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.14% of the population.

There were 12,596 households out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.4% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the town the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $51,987, and the median income for a family was $60,315. Males had a median income of $40,174 versus $29,357 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,091. About 3.6% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.6% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.

Noted people from Coventry



References




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