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.