Rhode Island, despite being the smallest state, packs a punch when it comes to tales of dereliction and desolation. The abandoned places in Rhode Island echo with the whispers of the past, adding a mysterious allure to this coastal gem.
From decaying mills that were once a testament to the state’s industrial prosperity to desolate mansions silently recounting their glorious past, Rhode Island offers a fascinating glimpse into historical epochs long gone but not forgotten. The Ocean State holds a multitude of secrets in its forgotten nooks, beckoning urban explorers to come and unravel them.
Note: Many of these locations are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on locations, such as coordinates or maps, are not given. This is done so purposefully as a barrier to entry to those who may mean harm to these spots. I want to ensure that these abandoned places in Rhode Island are known about, but stay as vandalism and destruction free as possible. Remember: Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Breakdown: The Top 12 and More
If you have a specific location from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that abandoned places in Rhode Island location.
- Ladd School (Exeter)
- Fort Wetherill (Jamestown)
- Pawtuxet Village (Warwick)
- Narragansett Pier Life Saving Station (Narragansett)
- Enchanted Forest (Hopkinton)
- Cranston Street Armory (Providence)
- Pettaquamscutt Cove Site (Narragansett)
- Majestic Theatre (East Greenwich)
- Providence River Crane (Providence)
- Windswept Ruins (Narragansett)
- Belcourt Castle (Newport)
- Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island (Pawtucket)
Broaden Your Horizons Beyond Rhode Island
Are you interested in venturing outside the state of Rhode Island? Maybe you live close to the state line, or maybe you’re just looking for adventures outside your home state. Whatever the case may be, here are some guides to bordering states that may be helpful in effective urban exploration:
Don’t Forget About Trespassing Laws
It is important when considering abandoned places in Rhode Island to know the basics of Rhode Island trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Rhode Island, please click here.
Without any further ado, let’s hop into the list of abandoned places!
The Best Abandoned Places in Rhode Island
Ladd School (Exeter)
Hidden among the tranquil greenery of Exeter, Rhode Island, lies the haunting remnants of the Ladd School, an institution that carries a complex and often disturbing history. Founded in the early 20th century by Dr. Joseph Ladd, the facility originally intended to provide a safe haven and education for individuals with developmental disabilities.
However, as time passed, the institution’s ideals began to erode, and it became more of a custodial asylum, plagued by allegations of mistreatment and neglect.
Constructed with a grand design echoing the architectural style of the time, the Ladd School was an expansive complex composed of multiple buildings, each serving a different purpose. Among them were residential halls, an administrative building, a school, a hospital ward, and various other ancillary structures.
However, as public awareness grew concerning the rights and humane treatment of individuals with disabilities, the institution came under scrutiny. Stories began to surface of subpar living conditions and questionable practices, which eventually led to the Ladd School’s closure in the 1990s.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Ladd School stands as a chilling reminder of a less enlightened era in the treatment of mental health. Many of the buildings have been demolished, but some structures still remain, gradually succumbing to the elements and the passage of time. Their weathered facades, broken windows, and overgrown surroundings present an eerie tableau that contrasts sharply with the serene Rhode Island countryside.
Located off Ten Rod Road, the abandoned site provides a somber exploration experience. As you navigate the remnants of the complex, walking through its empty corridors and vacant rooms, you can’t help but feel the weight of its troubled past.
Despite its melancholy atmosphere, the Ladd School offers a critical reminder of societal progress in recognizing and addressing the needs and rights of all individuals, regardless of their abilities or conditions. It stands as a significant landmark in Rhode Island’s history and an important monument in the narrative of mental health advocacy.
Fort Wetherill (Jamestown)
Perched on the southern cliffs of Conanicut Island in Jamestown, Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill is a testament to the state’s military history and a symbol of its enduring allure despite abandonment.
The fort, named in honor of Major General Alexander Wetherill, was a crucial defense post during the two World Wars, strategically overlooking the entrance to Narragansett Bay.
Fort Wetherill was constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of the country’s coastal defense system. Its solid, granite and concrete structures, camouflaged by natural vegetation, once housed powerful artillery designed to thwart potential naval threats. Its main features included vast casemates for the guns, munition storage areas, plotting rooms, and numerous other military facilities, all tucked into the rugged terrain.
However, with the advent of modern warfare technology, the fort’s traditional defense mechanisms became obsolete. It was deactivated in the mid-20th century and later transferred to the state of Rhode Island.
How Things Look Today
Today, Fort Wetherill stands as an intriguing site of abandonment. Its grey, weathered structures, punctuated by the encroaching greenery, form a stark contrast against the backdrop of the sparkling Atlantic waters. While many of the structures are off-limits due to safety concerns, the exterior of the fort and the surrounding parklands offer a unique exploration experience.
The site, now part of Fort Wetherill State Park, is located off Fort Wetherill Road. While the fort’s echoing tunnels and vacant buildings evoke an eerie calmness, the area’s natural beauty provides an unexpected charm. The fort’s cliff-top location affords spectacular views of the bay, making it a popular spot for picnicking, hiking, and scuba diving.
As you traverse the fort’s expansive grounds, the remnants of its military past seem to blend seamlessly with the natural environment, lending the place an air of tranquil resilience. In its quiet abandonment, Fort Wetherill continues to fascinate visitors with its blend of historical significance, architectural intrigue, and natural beauty.
Pawtuxet Village (Warwick)
While not entirely abandoned, Pawtuxet Village in Warwick, Rhode Island, contains sections that feel like they’ve been frozen in time, echoing the whispers of the past. This historic village, one of the oldest in New England, dates back to the mid-17th century, founded by settlers who sought freedom from the rigid Puritan laws in Massachusetts.
Pawtuxet Village, with its deep roots in American history, was a bustling center of trade and commerce. It was also notably a central stage in King Philip’s War, a pivotal conflict between English colonists and Native Americans in the 17th century. The village thrived with water-powered mills lining the banks of the Pawtuxet River, establishing the region’s prominence in the textile industry during the Industrial Revolution.
However, with the decline of the textile industry in the 20th century and the impact of two devastating hurricanes in the 1930s and 1950s, certain areas of the village fell into decline. Some of the once-prosperous mills and factories were deserted, leaving behind a faded echo of the village’s industrial vibrancy.
How Things Look Today
Today, these abandoned structures, situated along the Pawtuxet River, stand as silent reminders of the village’s bustling past. The crumbling stone and brick facades, mottled with time, hold a haunting beauty. They present a sharp contrast to the restored areas of Pawtuxet Village, which continues to thrive with its charming array of historic homes, quaint shops, and scenic views of the river.
You can access Pawtuxet Village via Broad Street in Warwick. As you stroll through the village, the abandoned structures invite curiosity and reflection on the passage of time. Despite the sense of neglect, they enhance the village’s rich tapestry of history, providing an intriguing exploration site for those interested in urban exploration and history.
Although largely tranquil and forgotten, these remnants of Pawtuxet Village’s past continue to add to its charm and narrative, standing as silent witnesses to the cycle of prosperity, decline, and resilience that shapes communities over centuries.
Narragansett Pier Life Saving Station (Narragansett)
The Narragansett Pier Life Saving Station in Narragansett, Rhode Island, stands as a silent sentinel to the bravery and selflessness of those who once operated it. The Station, constructed in the late 19th century, was a part of the United States Life-Saving Service, a precursor to the modern-day U.S. Coast Guard.
It was strategically located at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay, a historically treacherous area for maritime travel, to provide aid to those in peril on the sea.
The Station was built in the iconic Shingle-style architecture, typical of the Life Saving Service structures of the time. It featured a boat room, a watch room, and living quarters for the surfmen, who were stationed there around the clock to respond to emergencies. The men who served at the Narragansett Pier Station were renowned for their daring rescues in some of the worst New England weather, saving countless lives at great risk to their own.
However, with the merging of the Life Saving Service with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915, and the advancement in rescue technology over the following decades, the Station became less critical. It was eventually decommissioned and left abandoned in the mid-20th century.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Station stands in quiet solitude along the windswept shores of Narragansett Bay. The grandeur of its original design is still evident, despite the ravages of time and weather, and its once vibrant red roof and shingle-covered exterior are now faded and weather-worn. The abandoned Station, located near Ocean Road, evokes a sense of melancholic beauty as it overlooks the bay, its emptiness belying the intense activity and heroism it once housed.
Exploring the Narragansett Pier Life Saving Station, even from the outside, offers a unique window into the past, invoking an appreciation for the bygone era of maritime rescue. It stands as a testament to the brave individuals who, day and night, watched over the sea, ready to answer the call of duty. The Station, though quiet now, echoes with the tales of courage and dedication that are an integral part of Narragansett’s maritime history.
Enchanted Forest (Hopkinton)
Tucked away in the quiet town of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, lies the enchantingly eerie remains of the Enchanted Forest. Once a popular family destination, this abandoned theme park is a surreal, poignant reminder of childhood wonder and magic that now stands silent and forgotten.
The Enchanted Forest was opened in the early 1970s, its whimsical attractions and charming fairytale-themed displays drawing families from across the region. Modeled after the storybook parks of the era, it featured a host of colorful structures and playhouses, each representing a different fairytale or nursery rhyme. Children would delight in exploring Cinderella’s Castle, Mother Goose’s House, and the Three Little Pigs’ homes, while the more adventurous ones would dare to venture into the Witch’s Cave.
However, as the popularity of larger, high-thrill amusement parks grew, the Enchanted Forest began to lose its appeal. After changing hands several times in an attempt to revive its fortunes, the park eventually closed its doors in the early 2000s and was left to be reclaimed by nature.
How Things Look Today
Today, the park’s site off Route 3 in Hopkinton is a haunting tableau of faded memories and lost innocence. Overgrown foliage has enveloped the fairytale cottages, their once-bright paint peeling and weather-beaten. The rusted remnants of playground equipment stand in stark contrast to the lush greenery that has overtaken them.
Yet, in this desolation, there is an eerie beauty and a sense of nostalgia that draws urban explorers and photographers to the site.
Exploring the Enchanted Forest offers a poignant journey into a forgotten past, the crumbling structures and decaying playhouses evoking a sense of melancholy and reflection. Though its heyday is long gone, the park’s lingering spirit and the echoes of children’s laughter remind us of the simple joys of childhood and the transient nature of time.
It serves as a reminder that enchantment can be found even in abandonment, and memories can live on even when the physical structures do not.
Cranston Street Armory (Providence)
The Cranston Street Armory in Providence, Rhode Island, is a commanding presence, its immense red brick edifice and distinctive twin towers looming over the city’s west end. Yet, despite its imposing facade, this architectural gem has been largely abandoned for decades, standing as a silent sentinel to a time long past.
The armory was built in the early 20th century, a grand example of military Gothic Revival architecture designed by the renowned architectural firm William R. Walker & Son. It served as the primary base for the Rhode Island National Guard, its cavernous drill hall and myriad ancillary spaces bustling with military activity. However, by the late 20th century, the National Guard had largely relocated, leaving the armory largely vacant.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Cranston Street Armory, also known as the “Castle for the People,” stands mostly deserted, though its grandeur remains undiminished. The intricate detailing of its brickwork, the towering turrets, and the cavernous drill hall, large enough to fit an entire city block, offer a testament to the architectural prowess of its creators.
The building is located in the Armory District, off Cranston Street, its distinctive silhouette making it a prominent landmark. While the armory is not generally open to the public, its imposing exterior and its historical significance make it a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
The Cranston Street Armory is a grand reminder of Rhode Island’s military past, its deserted halls echoing with the footfall of soldiers long gone. As the state explores ways to repurpose this majestic structure, the armory stands as a testament to Providence’s rich architectural heritage, a beacon of potential amidst the cityscape. It serves as a poignant reminder that even in abandonment, there is grandeur and historical significance worth preserving.
Pettaquamscutt Cove Site (Narragansett)
In the peaceful town of Narragansett, Rhode Island, sits the largely forgotten Pettaquamscutt Cove Site. Once a hub of activity, it is now an overlooked slice of local history that has, over time, fallen into disuse and abandonment.
The Pettaquamscutt Cove Site, established in the late 17th century, was primarily a shipbuilding and maritime trade area due to its strategic location along the Narragansett Bay. Ships crafted from sturdy New England timber would set sail from the cove, contributing to the region’s vibrant maritime economy. However, as the industry shifted and modern infrastructure developed, the cove’s prominence dwindled and it was eventually abandoned.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Pettaquamscutt Cove Site is a quiet testament to Narragansett’s shipbuilding past. While the hustle and bustle of shipbuilding and maritime trade no longer resonate through the area, the site retains an aura of its former significance.
Located off Boston Neck Road, the cove is nestled amidst natural beauty. While the infrastructure related to its shipbuilding past is mostly gone, the cove itself, with its serene waters and surrounding landscape, is a calming site for explorers. Wildlife enthusiasts may spot various waterfowl and other creatures native to the region.
The Pettaquamscutt Cove Site may be largely forgotten, but it remains an integral piece of Rhode Island’s maritime history. As you stand by the water’s edge, you can almost hear the echo of hammering, sawing, and the excited chatter of shipbuilders, a spectral reminder of a bygone era. Despite its quietude, the cove holds a historic charm that continues to enchant those who venture to this secluded spot.
Majestic Theatre (East Greenwich)
The Majestic Theatre in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, is a once-thriving cultural icon now standing as a solemn vestige of the town’s vibrant arts scene. Built in the early 20th century, the theatre hosted a plethora of performances ranging from vaudeville acts to silent movies, eventually transitioning to talkies as technology advanced.
In its heyday, the Majestic Theatre was a buzzing hub of community activity. Patrons would flock to its opulent interiors, enticed by the flicker of the silver screen or the promise of a live performance.
However, as the century wore on and cinema complexes began to rise in popularity, smaller venues like the Majestic began to struggle. Despite valiant efforts to stay relevant, the theatre was eventually abandoned and closed its doors, a silent victim of changing times.
Located on Main Street in the heart of East Greenwich, the Majestic Theatre, though worn by time and neglect, still bears traces of its former grandeur. The marquee, now dimmed, once illuminated the street below with the names of plays and films. The building’s exterior, though faded, hints at the architectural design that once was considered state-of-the-art. The boarded-up box office that once sold countless tickets now stands as a poignant symbol of the theatre’s more prosperous days.
How Things Look Today
Today, the Majestic Theatre offers a nostalgic journey into the past. While its stage remains dark and its seats empty, the ghostly echoes of applause and cinematic magic linger in the air, a haunting tribute to East Greenwich’s rich cultural heritage.
Despite its current state of abandonment, the Majestic Theatre remains a compelling monument to the bygone era of vaudeville and early cinema, its silent structure narrating a tale of glamour, entertainment, and the inexorable passage of time.
Providence River Crane (Providence)
A haunting reminder of Providence’s once flourishing industrial past, the Providence River Crane stands a solitary and silent sentinel on the banks of the Providence River. The crane, an artifact from the early 20th century, was once integral to the city’s thriving maritime commerce, aiding in the transport and loading of goods onto waiting ships.
This hulking crane, with its sturdy steel arm reaching skyward and now-rusted gears frozen in time, was designed for the heavy-duty work of unloading cargo from the bustling harbor traffic. However, as shipping routes and methods evolved, the role of the crane was slowly diminished and ultimately deemed redundant. The crane was eventually abandoned, left to endure the elements and the passage of time.
How Things Look Today
Located on the riverside, not far from the heart of Providence, the crane offers a stark contrast to the city’s revitalized waterfront. While the surrounding area pulses with the vibrancy of restaurants, parks, and recreational spaces, the crane remains an unmoving testament to an era when Providence’s prosperity was directly tied to its waterfront.
Although it no longer serves its original function, the Providence River Crane has become a prominent fixture in the city’s landscape. Its towering presence and antiquated form lend a distinct character to the otherwise modern skyline. For urban explorers and history enthusiasts, the crane offers a captivating glimpse into the city’s industrial past.
Today, the crane stands as a symbol of Providence’s evolution, from a bustling maritime hub to a modern urban cityscape. Despite its current state of abandonment, the crane’s history is intertwined with the city’s own, its silent silhouette telling a story of industry, commerce, and the inexorable march of progress.
Windswept Ruins (Narragansett)
Nestled amidst the rugged, coastal beauty of Narragansett, Rhode Island, lie the Windswept Ruins – a poignant testament to a bygone era. These ruins are all that remain of the once magnificent Narragansett Pier Casino, a beloved social hub and architectural marvel that represented the gilded age of the late 19th century.
Built in 1883, the casino was the heart and soul of Narragansett, providing entertainment and social interactions for the wealthy summer crowd. A multifunctional venue, it included a theatre, a restaurant, a ballroom, and various sports facilities. However, a devastating fire in 1900 destroyed most of the casino, leaving only a portion of the structure standing, including the iconic stone towers.
How Things Look Today
Now known as the Windswept Ruins, this site has an ethereal beauty to it. The sturdy, stone towers rise against the Atlantic backdrop, worn by wind and waves yet standing resilient. The ruins, buffeted by the coastal winds, give a sense of the grandeur that once graced this spot.
Situated in the heart of the town, near the Narragansett Town Beach, the ruins are a beloved local landmark and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Walking around the site, you can almost hear the echoes of music, laughter, and the clinking of glasses from lavish parties of a bygone era.
For those with an interest in history and architecture, or a penchant for the romantic allure of ruins, the Windswept Ruins are a must-visit. As you explore this historical site, you can’t help but marvel at the passage of time and the resilience of these stone remnants that continue to weather the windswept coastal landscape of Narragansett.
Belcourt Castle (Newport)
Belcourt Castle, situated in the posh seaside city of Newport, Rhode Island, stands as a monument to the city’s Gilded Age, when America’s wealthiest families built grand mansions here as symbols of their status and wealth. It was originally constructed in the late 19th century for Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a wealthy socialite and politician.
This sprawling 60-room mansion was designed by the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt in a combination of French Renaissance and Gothic styles. However, unlike the other Newport mansions that were used mainly for summer gatherings, Belmont made Belcourt his year-round residence, reflecting his unique style and eclectic tastes.
Following Belmont’s death, the mansion passed through several hands and fell into disrepair over time. For many years, it was abandoned and left to the mercy of the elements. The once grand halls and chambers were vacant, filled only with echoes of its past opulence. Its intricate architectural details and lavish decorations gradually succumbed to the effects of neglect.
How Things Look Today
Today, Belcourt Castle stands partially restored, thanks to a dedicated effort by its current owners. While sections of it remain closed to the public due to ongoing restoration work, the parts that are accessible offer a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
Visitors can take a guided tour through the castle’s ornate rooms, each telling a story about its past residents and their lifestyle. Highlights include the grand hall with its stained glass windows, the library with its intricate woodwork, and the opulent ballroom that once hosted extravagant parties.
As you wander through the castle, you’ll experience a mix of eeriness and grandeur, as the signs of decay and years of abandonment intersect with the glimpses of past luxury. Even in its semi-abandoned state, Belcourt Castle continues to captivate visitors with its architecture, its rich history, and the enduring mystery of its neglected years.
Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island (Pawtucket)
The Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, located in the city of Pawtucket, stands as a haunting relic of a bygone era of healthcare. Opening its doors in 1884, the hospital provided generations of Rhode Islanders with medical care, featuring several specialized departments and housing a nursing school. For over a century, the hospital’s halls echoed with the rush of doctors and nurses, the hurried conversations, and the gratitude of healed patients.
However, as the 21st century unfolded, the hospital began facing financial challenges that eventually led to its closure in 2017. Since then, the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island has remained abandoned, its once-bustling halls and wards now filled only with silence.
How Things Look Today
Today, the exterior of the hospital presents a sobering sight, with its largely intact facade offering a stark contrast to the emptiness within. The hospital’s expansive complex, encompassing the main building and several other structures, stand like a deserted island in the urban surroundings.
As for the interior, while largely off-limits due to safety concerns, it speaks to the urgency and compassion that once filled the hospital. The vacant patient rooms, the deserted nurses’ station, and the empty operating theaters – all silent, yet echoing with the memories of their former use. The hospital, in its abandonment, stands as a potent symbol of a community healthcare institution that once was.
The future of the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island remains uncertain. Several redevelopment plans have been proposed, but none have been put into action yet. For now, the hospital remains a silent fixture of Pawtucket – a building once integral to the city’s life, now waiting for a new chapter to begin.
Our Final Thoughts on Abandoned Places in Rhode Island
Those who are into urban exploration in the Rhode Island area should get comfortable with Rhode Island trespassing laws. Luckily, we have developed a massive guide to trespassing laws in all 50 states. For laws that specifically relate to Rhode Island, please click here.
For more about obtaining permission to explore abandoned places, check out our guide Explore Abandoned Buildings: How To Get Permission. Finally, if you are wanting to find more abandoned places in Rhode Island, check out my resource How To Find Abandoned Places With Google Maps.
- John Bourscheid, Killer Urbex