2018-08-09 / Opinion

A Salute to Middletown


This is a very exciting time in the history of Middletown and Aquidneck Island, as the town and the Founders’ Day Committee prepare for their 275th anniversary celebration next weekend. As we honor the town’s founding families, volunteers and businesses, stories of days gone by are fresh in many minds. We welcome remembrances like the one from John W. Nelson III below. His recounting of the One- and Two-Mile markers and how they define Middletown and its borders will surely bring back fond memories of the once rural township.

In more recent history, many islanders probably remember when Middletown received its own zip code, about 30 years ago. The relocation of the Boyd’s Windmill from Portsmouth and development of Paradise Park have been a wonderful addition to Middletown. Many thanks and a salute for those two major projects go to both the late Stan Grossman and Norman Hall, members of Middletown’s 250th Jubilee Committee.

Today there is burgeoning development defining Middletown’s beach front, near the Memorial Boulevard Purgatory Road area. Gone are the days of the Ocean View Restaurant open until dawn, the Martin brothers and then Crockett’s Market, the Seven Seas Restaurant and Johnny’s Middletown Spa (Read about these old watering holes in “Another Waterfront Icon is Sold,” NTW, Feb. 19, 2015). But t/he Kyriakides family still has a strong presence with their six various hotels and two restaurants, and Komes Rozes is still running his iconic Flo’s Clam Shack.

The hotel craze in Middletown actually began nearly 80 years ago when the Toppa family decided to build an inn at the beach. They set it back 100 feet for safety. But storms wiped it out and it was later rebuilt as the Beach Hotel by Newporters Abraham and Adele Hoffman in the early 1950s. Hurricane Carol of 1954 wreaked havoc on the property and it was passed again to new owners and was known as The Greenhouse for many years.

On pages 8 and 9 you can read about several of the new hotel proposals in this key commercial zone.

As Middletown celebrates its vibrant history and moves to its next stage, a thank you and a salute to Middletown Town Council President Robert Sylvia, who is heading the Founders’ Day Committee with his wife Barbara, as well as fellow councilors Theresa Santos and Council Vice President Paul Rodrigues.

The Founders’ Day Committee was formed jointly with the Middletown Historical Society, and led by its President Gary Paquette, attorney Robert Silva and wife Carolyn, MarynClark, Mary Kelly, Kerry Seibert, Carmela Geer and Andy Bacon.

And, finally, a salute to the founding families, the “Middletown Freeman of 1743.” The following is a list from the Middletown Historical Society of the families responsible for the formation of Middletown and the building of a strong education, government, and social and religious foundation for all.

The Allens, the Barkers, The Baileys, the Browns, the Cards, the Clarks, the Clarkes, the Coggeshalls, the Cornwalls , the Derings, the Eastons, the Goulds, the Greens, the Holmeys, the the Lawtons, the Luthers, the Manchesters, the Mitchells, the Nichols, the Peabodys, the Peckhams, the Phillips, the Rogers’, the Roggers’, the Ryders, the Slocums, the Taylors, the Tews, the Turners, the Weavers, the Weedens, and the Woods.

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