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Laban Matteson
Laban Matteson
1812 - 1888

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The Paine House Museum

Located at 7 Station St. Coventry, R.I. View map

Owned and operated by The Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society. A one time Colonial home and Inn, restored and furnished in the period-style.

The Paine house originally was built by Francis Brayton Sr. After his death in 1783 the property passed to his son Francis Brayton Jr. In 1785 Francis Brayton Jr was granted a license to sell spiritous liquors and the house became a house of entertainment, an inn or a tavern. In 1797 it was sold to a Charles Holden and was known as the Holden tavern. Holden heirs sold it to Thomas Whipple April 9, 1849.

ZilphaFoster.jpg

On April 25, 1866 the Whipple family sold the property to Phebe Paine and Mary Mathewson (Matteson). Mary sold her half to Phebe Paine Johnson. Through inheritance the property came to be in the Paine family for the next 87 years. Mr. Herbert F. Paine was the last of the family to live in the house and in 1946 after his death it passed to his half-sister Mrs. Zilpha W. Foster. The keys to the house were turned over to the President of the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society on July 24, 1953 after being left by Mrs. Foster as a memorial to her mother Phebe Paine Johnson and sister Orvilla Paine.


It is very easy to pass by this wonderful house without realizing the treasures inside. I have been a resident of Coventry for many many years, passing it every day. I would see the sign reading "Paine House 1688" on the building but not paying much attention. There are many old homes in RI which have plaques on them. It was quite by accident one day last summer that my husband and I had the pleasure of meeting a woman in a cemetery who would later become a source of great information. She had been placing flowers on graves and I noticed she was at some of the Matteson's. I asked how she was related and from there things just snowballed. We were invited by Luane to visit the Paine House and take a tour. I have to be honest...I didn't really understand exactly what this place was.img painehousedress.jpg

In September we made it to take a tour. I, for one, was totally amazed at the amount of items in this place. It was so overwhelming to see books, diaries, bibles, clothing, tools, everyday household items, quilts so carefully laid out for all to see. There are rooms of every type imaginable in this huge old house.  There is a military room., a school room, a library with an astounding variety. It was incredible just picking up a book and seeing so many familiar family names! There is a children's room.  That's where I happened to spot the dress in the picture. So many family lines have donated items over the years. The Mattesons (with various spellings), the Andrews, the Tillinghast's, the Capwell's, the Greenes. Of course there are many items from the Paine, Johnson and Foster families. The pictures that hang on the walls of each room are a treasure in and of themselves. It would be impossible for me to decribe this museum and the entire contents properly. This place is well worth a visit and with each visit one always notices something they hadn't seen before.

by Marge Matteson

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Last modified on: Monday, August 11, 2014

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