The oldest remaining home in Providence, Rhode Island is the Stephen Hopkins House, named for its most prominent colonial resident. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Stephen Hopkins served in many distinguished roles in early Rhode Island history: he was the first Chancellor of Brown University, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Governor of the colony (ten times!), and Delegate to the Colonial and Continental Congresses.
Hopkins was an important figure in the development of Providence, helping to grow its economic power and infrastructure. He purchased and enlarged what is now the Stephen Hopkins House in 1743 and lived there until his death in 1785. By the time of the Continental Congress, he was nearly 70 and afflicted with what was probably Parkinson’s Disease. It is said that when he signed the Declaration of Independence, he declared: “My hand trembles, my heart does not.”
Hopkins was not present when George Washington spent the night at his home on April 5th, 1776. He was at the Continental Congress, so his daughter-in-law was left the task of entertaining General Washington. The story goes that her relatives wanted to lend her nicer china to serve Washington. She is said to have pushed back with the claim that what was good enough for her father was good enough for the General.
Visitors to the house today can see the bedroom where General Washington slept and learn about the long life of Stephen Hopkins and his dedication to his state and new country.