The current Rhode Island State House was built on the site of Snowtown.
Following the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1784, newly emancipated,
indentured and freeborn Black Rhode Islanders needed places to live, work,
play and build community. In a pattern typical to the U.S., a statewide social,
legal and economic system of white supremacy replaced the social, legal and
economic system of slavery. Alongside white and Indigenous poor and workingclass people, Black residents settled in marginalized Providence neighborhoods
such as Hardscrabble, Snowtown, Olney Street and Stamper’s. Archival and
archeological records present examples of persistence, entrepreneurship and
care work in these majority Black communities, which were also targets of racially
motivated oppression and violence.