A visionary and independent thinker, Roger Williams
was warned by the Puritan authorities in Massachusetts
Bay Colony to refrain from spreading his “new and
dangerous opinions.” Banished and alone, Williams
wandered in the wilderness eventually settling in the
land he named “Providence” in the spring of 1636.
Befriended by the Narragansett tribe, he founded a
community where any persons could think, worship and
act in accordance with their own conscience without
fear of persecution by the government. This spiritual and
intellectual paradise to some was considered a hotbed
of heresy to others. In 1965, Congress authorized the
creation of the memorial and the 4.5-acre park opened
to the public in the 1980s.
Roger Williams National Memorial, a unit of the National Park Service, is a 4.5 acre greenspace in downtown Providence established to commemorate the founder of Rhode Island and champion of freedom of religion and individual liberty. The Memorial includes landscaped grounds, walking paths, free parking, seasonal programming, and a visitor center, open 7 days a week year round. The visitor center, staffed by Park Rangers and volunteers, offers interpretive exhibits, informational materials, and a five minute orientation film.