Something for everyone at Pawtucket’s Slater Park

Something for everyone at Pawtucket’s Slater Park

The Friendship Garden at Slater Park, dedicated in 1934, is a free-growing garden located across the street from the bandstand at the far end of the pond and features several of these wooden bridges. (Breeze photos by Melanie Thibeault)

The Breeze will be highlighting a number of local destinations this summer to encourage readers to explore the Blackstone Valley. This week is the second installment, featuring Slater Park. We hope you enjoy it.

PAWTUCKET – From sports and leisure activities to taking a spin on the historic carousel or visiting some barnyard animals, there’s no lack of ways to fill your day with a visit to Slater Memorial Park in Pawtucket.

The 197-acre park, purchased by the city of Pawtucket in 1894, “is a beautiful piece of nature in the middle of our city,” Sheryl Rennick, recreation programming assistant, told The Breeze. “This becomes people’s backyard … where they get to play.”

The park, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, offers many different amenities. “There’s so much to choose from,” Rennick said. “It’s an all around family-friendly park.” People can play disc golf, fish, or just sit in the sun on a lounge chair, she said.

What makes it unique, she said, is that so many generations of families have come to enjoy the park, which makes it a special place for many.

Open from dawn until dusk, there are two entrances to the park on Newport Avenue and Armistice Boulevard. While there’s plenty to do at the park, here are some highlights.

Looff Carousel

The historic Looff Carousel is open seven days a week from 2 to 5 p.m. through Halloween, and rides cost 50 cents apiece. Charles I.D. Looff of Brooklyn, N.Y., carved the carousel in 1895, and it was first placed in Lee Funland Park in Troy, N.Y., before being moved to Pawtucket 110 years ago in the summer of 1910. It features a functioning band organ as well as 44 horses, six menagerie animals (one camel, three dogs, one giraffe, one lion), and two chariots.

Anyone wishing to ride the carousel must wear a mask, Rennick said. Popcorn and drinks are also for sale.

Rhode Island Watercolor Society

Located near the pond, the Rhode Island Watercolor Society is housed in the former J.C. Potter Casino, built in 1917 to serve canoeists and ice skaters. The R.I. Watercolor Society, founded in 1896, is one of the oldest watercolor organizations in America and today has more than 300 members. Members of the public are welcome to walk into the gallery and browse the current exhibition’s artworks, many of which are for sale. Gallery hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. The Watercolor Society hosts about 10 shows per year.

“I think it’s a really good experience for the community to see local artists,” Kathleen O’Hara, gallery director, told The Breeze. Spending time in the gallery is especially nice on a rainy day, she said.

Daggett House Museum

The Daggett House, built in 1685, is the oldest standing house in the city and now serves as a museum of 17th- through 19th-century antiques, Revolutionary War and Civil War artifacts.

Operated by the Pawtucket Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the nine-room house is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Rennick, George Washington allegedly once stayed at the Daggett House when he was passing through New England.

While the house is not open to the public on a regular basis, call 401-722-6931 or 401-724-5748 for tour information.

Sports and leisure activities

The park offers a nine-hole disc golf course, located near the Newport Avenue entrance, that’s open whenever the park is open. The course offers two tee-pads and two baskets on each hole. There’s a beginner layout that measures approximately 2,500 feet while a pro-friendly layout is more than 5,000 feet. People can bring their own discs or borrow some from the park office. The office also has scorecards available.

Ten tennis courts, located across from the Parks and Recreation office near the Armistice Boulevard entrance, are available for free to use as long as summer campers or leagues aren’t playing.

A basketball court is also located near the city’s Animal Shelter and is open for public use.

While boat rides are not allowed on the 3-acre pond, it is equipped for fishing. Rennick said paddle boat rides used to be offered but the private company went under due to the pandemic, and city officials are in the process of looking for a new company to offer rides.

The Ten Mile River Greenway consists of a 6.1-mile (roundtrip) path great for walking and cycling that spans from the Daggett athletic fields in Pawtucket to the Kimberly Ann Rock Memorial Athletic Complex in Rumford, passing through Slater Park. The scenic ride goes by the Ten Mile River and the banks of the James Turner Reservoir.

Len’s Haven A mainstay at the park, Lens’ Seafood, Hot Dogs, and Ice Cream Haven has been serving up quality food and treats for two decades, according to owner Len Rounds. Popular items include homemade chowder as well as clamcakes, whole belly clams, and fish and chips on the seafood side. Rounds serves ice cream from Bliss Dairy in Attleboro, Mass. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 12 to 7 p.m., and ice cream only Mondays from 12 to 8 p.m.

Daggett Farm

Located near Len’s Haven, the farm includes donkeys, goats, ducks, and a miniature horse, but Rennick noted people can only look, not feed or pet the animals. The farm is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. There is also a greenhouse and plants for sale.

Other amenities

Open spaces within the park are great for picnics, flying kites, playing kickball, or just lounging, Rennick noted. The park features 13 picnic sites that are available to rent through October. People can rent through the city’s website.

The Pawtucket Dog Park, founded in 2011, is located behind the carousel building and is open during park hours. There are two sides, one for small dogs and another for larger dogs.

Located near Len’s Haven is the Adventure Playground, a popular spot for children to play on slides, swings, and more.

People can also spy various art sculptures located through the park as well as a stone bandstand located at the far side of the pond, built in 1917 for entertainers and bands to play.

The Friendship Gardens nature preserve, dedicated in 1934, is located across the street from the bandstand at the far end of the pond. It’s a free-growing garden as opposed to a manicured one because there is an endangered plant species and insect species, preventing the site from being developed, Rennick said. “It’s very natural, but it’s beautiful,” she said.

Resident Tom Rogers has completed several projects to beautify the park, including carving out tree stumps and planting flowers; creating a red hobbit door; and crafting a chess/checker board out of a tree stump. The board is located near Len’s and people can either bring their own pieces to play or borrow pieces from the park office, Rennick said.

When visiting Slater Park, 401 Newport Ave., basic common sense rules apply, Rennick said. No alcohol is allowed and people should pick up their trash. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed if they’re not at the dog park.

Compost toilets are located next to the tennis courts, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every season except winter. Public restrooms are available at Daggett Farm when Len’s is open, Rennick said. When the picnic areas are available for renting, there are also port-a-potties.

A Daggett Farm Summer Concert Series continues now through Aug. 19 on Thursday evenings and free children’s performances take place on Tuesday nights through Aug. 17. Visit the Pawtucket Parks and Recreation Facebook page for more information.

Sheryl Rennick, recreation programming assistant, outside the Pawtucket Parks and Recreation office at Slater Park, shared the many activities people can do while at the park.
Slater Park offers a nine-hole disc golf course. Players can bring their own discs or borrow some from the Parks and Recreation office at the park.
Pawtucket resident Tom Rogers created this chess/checkerboard from a tree stump, located near Len’s Haven in Slater Park.