Roger Williams National Memorial
The Roger Williams National Memorial celebrates Roger Williams and his contributions to the creation to the First Amendment. Operated by the National Park Service, the Visitor Center features an exhibit and a short film, and there are also several exhibit panels throughout the 4.5 acre Memorial grounds.
Backstory and Context
Roger Williams National Memorial was established by Congress in 1965 to commemorate Williams’s “outstanding contributions to the development of the principles of freedom in this country.” As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966, and the site was developed in the late 1970s after land acquisition was completed.
The memorial is a 4.5 acre urban greenspace located in downtown Providence. It includes a freshwater spring which was the center of the settlement of Providence Plantations founded by Williams in 1636. Roger Williams was the co-founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. Williams was banished from Massachusetts for his beliefs and founded the colony of Rhode Island as a refuge where all could come to worship as their conscience dictated without interference from the state.
As of 2006, it is the only unit of the National Park System in Rhode Island.