North Gate is Lincoln’s 20th Christmas ornament

North Gate is Lincoln’s 20th Christmas ornament

From left are Richard DiMase, Jason Dionne and Dave Sale, all of Lincoln, as they sit on the stage at the North Gate building off Old Louisquisset Pike. (Breeze photo by Brittany Ballantyne)

LINCOLN – It’s December 1805, and the Louisquisset Pike, a dirt road, is chartered to connect Providence to Lime Rock. Methods of transportation include goat, horse, wagon, or cart.

The toll charge? For a goat, the cost was half a penny, and for a cart, 40 cents was the fare established by the Rhode Island General Assembly. With buildings on the rise in Providence, limestone from the area in Lincoln was transported to the city via the pike, which served as the halfway point between Rhode Island’s capital city and Worcester, Mass.

This new route would save about 90 minutes per round trip and nearly 1.5 miles, says Lincoln’s Richard DiMase, who sifted through historical documents to piece together the history of the North Gate in Lincoln, which adorns the town’s 3-D 2016 Christmas ornament.

DiMase said the North Gate was selected for the town’s 20th annual ornament because of the relevance of the tolls on the pike, and the parallels with today’s truck tolls passed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives in February of this year.

Nowadays, the Blackstone Valley Historical Society is housed in the building seen off Route 146 south. The building was a hotel sometime before 1851, according to DiMase’s research into state documents and a manuscript compiled by W. Harlow Kahler in 1981.

Come 1904 or 1905, North Gate was sold and re-purposed as a farmer’s grange, hence its well known title as “the grange” in town. Dave Sale remembered the grange as the central port of Lime Rock, the village he grew up in. The now-Saylesville resident spoke of turkey trots with live birds, dances, musicals and meals that were hosted there.

Combing through the Blackstone Valley Historical Society’s archives, Jason Dionne, president of the organization, pulls out black-and-white photographs of people spinning and swaying to music, farmers with their cattle and people working in the kitchen at the North Gate when it was the farmer’s grange. Dionne helps organize events at the North Gate today, where various concerts and events are held, and the building is available for rent by calling 401-725-2847.

The 2016 ornament shows the dirt road, which ran beside a porch that was once connected to the building after it was added in 1907. After deterioration, the porch was removed in 1942.

The Blackstone Valley Historical Society purchased the building in 1971 and has been operating in North Gate, at 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike, ever since.

DiMase and Sale said they start planning for the following year’s Christmas ornament directly after sales of the ornaments end each year. A total of 625 pieces were ordered from ChemArt Co., located at 15 New England Way in Lincoln, and Sale explained the first 125 ornaments, which are numbered, are available only at Lincoln Town Hall in the town administrator’s office.

In addition to the North Gate ornaments, 150 of the town’s first-ever Christmas ornament, the Hearthside House, will be on sale at Town Hall for $20. Sale explained that he and DiMase have received many requests over the years for the first ornament to be re-created and sold, and said they wanted to give residents the opportunity to complete their set.

DiMase explained that the sale of Christmas ornaments over the years has provided $23,000 to the town for the re-location of the historic Hot Potato School House, which was transported from the corner of Angell and Whipple Road to Chase Farm last November.

DiMase noted that the town authorized another $15,000 to begin the restoration inside the circa-1850 building.

The ornament can be purchased for $17 at the following locations:

• Town Hall, 100 Old River Road

• Lincoln Public Library, 145 Old River Road

• Lincoln Senior Center, 150 Jenckes Hill Road

• RYCO Inc., 25 Carrington St.

• Larry’s Lincoln Auto Repair, 420 Great Road

• Lincoln Gardens, 1688 Old Louisquisset Pike

• Donna Dressler Jewelry, Gifts & More, 1528 Old Louisquisset Pike

• Ted’s Paint and Decorating, 194 Front St.

• Hearthside House, 677 Great Road

• Butterfly Farm, 681 Great Road

• Blackstone Valley Historical Society, 1873 Old Louisquisset Pike

• Blackstone River Credit Union in Town Hall at 100 Old River Road in Lincoln as well as 10 Monument Square in Woonsocket

• Dave’s Marketplace, 2077 Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland

• Dyane’s Sweet Tooth, 186 Mendon Road in Cumberland