Journey through Providence history with Lincoln author

Journey through Providence history with Lincoln author

LINCOLN – Anyone who’s traveled to Providence has likely visited, or at least heard of, the city’s famous College Hill or Federal Hill. But a third, less famous hill in Rhode Island’s capital shares an equally rich history, “no less significant to the evolution of the city,” in the words of Charles Cox III.

The Lincoln-based writer brings Providence’s Fox Hill neighborhood to life in his latest book, “Immigrant Pathways In and Near Fox Hill – Fox Point: A Journey Through History.”

Cox’s source of inspiration for the book was gathered over 36 years of business ownership in Fox Point, operating Guido’s Restaurant and Big Alice’s Ice Cream on Hope Street with his partner Robert from 1979 to 2015.

“Anybody who was anybody passed through there,” Cox said. Sitting on a bench in front of the ice cream parlor, the historian would “sit and listen to people, stories, gossip, truth and lies.” Strung together, “it becomes a wonderful story,” he said.

“Having been for so many years in Fox Point, I knew the hill was one of many including College and Constitution, all named for something significant. My interest grew out of the fact that no one was focusing on this area, and it has so many stories.”

By including a map of Fox Hill (later called Fox Point) in the book, Cox encourages his readers to gain a deeper appreciation for the neighborhood’s historical roots by stepping out on a walking tour. The first stop is a private residence on Williams Street containing the “Gaspee Room,” where the burning of the HMS Gaspee was plotted.

Throughout the book, Cox uses architectural landmarks to paint a picture of the neighborhood through history. One such example is the Otsby Mansion on Cooke Street. Cox tells the story of Englehart Cornelius Ostby, who lost his life on the Titanic and is buried in Swan Point Cemetery. His daughter, Helen, survived the sinking.

There are many more stories in the book revealing the significant histories of the buildings of Providence, also highlighting each immigrant group that settled in the neighborhood from Ireland, Cape Verde, Portugal and elsewhere.

“I wanted people to be able to stop at places in the book,” Cox said. “These buildings connect the history of so much of the state. The remnants are there if you look and listen. So many of these people who are gone, whose names are now gone, have stories to tell.”

Immigrant Pathways is Cox’s second book. His first, titled “My Trip Abroad, 1902-1903: Vol. I From Pawtucket to Berlin,” published in 2015.

Both books are available for purchase on Amazon.