12 Meshanticut Drive Cranston, Rhode Island 02920Official Website
Meshanticut Park was given to the Metropolitan Park Commission in 1910 by John M. Dean. He was the president and treasurer of the John M. Dean Company of Providence, founded in 1892. It was an offshoot of the Cady and Dean Company, started in 1876. Dean’s business activities centered on a successful Providence furniture company and real estate development. He was also very active in Masonic affairs and Cranston politics. His gift occurred the same year Cranston became a city.
Dean’s Cranston home was called Tupelo Farm. It was comprised of the former Cranston Poor Farm and the old King farm property, dating back to colonial times. Its location was just north of the state institutions at Howard and Sockanosset, immediately west of Garden City, along Reservoir Avenue. His farm eventually became Dean estates and was developed by his grandson, beginning in the 1930s. It also included Dean Parkway, new at the time, which was donated along with the Meshanticut Lake to the Metropolitan Park Commission to be part of its system of boulevards and scenic drives which radiated out of Providence and led to a necklace of parks surrounding the city.
The park portion of his gift in 1910 was a twenty-acre parcel of lake and parkland on the western slope of the Dean farmlands stretching down to Cranston Street. The lake is reached by Dean Parkway and Dean Street. Meshanticut Drive forms the eastern border of the lake. Housing crowds the western drive. These homes, planned by Dean were originally summer residences. Nearby is the Cranston educational complex of Cranston Vocational Tech, Cranston West High School, and Western Hills Junior High School.
Today, the Washington Secondary Bike path follows the former rail line of the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad, but as the path passes Meshanticut Park it does so through a cut and the unfavorable terrain does not permit a nexus.
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