“Old Yellow”

George Thomas House      


The big house at 6 Bay Street, fondly known for centuries as “Old Yellow” in honor of the milk-based paint with which it was once painted, has seen more than its share of local history.  The building was constructed in 1735 by George Thomas, the first member of that family to settle in the village, and may have originally had some association to the colonial-era shipyard that was adjacent to it. Over the centuries it has been owned by members of nearly every family that has figured prominently in the history of the community, including Thomas Cranston and Thomas Brenton, the grandsons of two different Colonial Governors of Rhode Island. In spite of all this history, by far the most interesting period of the house’s existence was from around 1885 to 1966 when it was owned by freed slaves, Jim and Christina Chase and their descendants. Jim Chase was a Civil Veteran and respected member of the local G.A.R. chapter, who came to Wickford after the War and worked as a laborer and a teamster. While in the employ of coal dealer, T. S. Baker, Chase purchased “Old Yellow” from his boss and moved in with his family.  Eventually, Jim Chase came up with the novel idea of growing, drying, and packaging yeast in the basement of the big house for resale to area bakers and brewers. In this fashion Jim Chase became a respected local businessman as well. Jim and Christina’s daughter Mary was born and raised here in this house and eventually lived out a long life in Wickford, passing on in 1985 her 109th year.

This wonderful home was included in the Wickford Decks the Halls!  Holiday Kitchen Tour on December 6, 2009.  Kathleen van Rijn did a fantastic job decorating her kitchen for this event.

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