Friends of The Brown House

Volunteer Renovation Project 
Glen Farm - Portsmouth, RI 

Mission Summary  Operational Scope Funding and Construction

Mission Summary:

By purchasing the Glen Farm complex in 1989, the residents of Portsmouth acquired a spectacular property, as well as an historical and cultural asset for themselves and future generations. The farm consists of over 100 acres of open space, numerous stone and wooden barns and homes previously utilized by Glen Farm employees.

The Leonard Brown House is a home which was built and utilized as a farm house for Mr. Leonard Brown in the mid 1800’s. Mr. Brown worked as a wheelwright and blacksmith until he acquired his father in-law’s farm. By 1888 Mr. Brown was known as one of the best farmers in Portsmouth. Mr. Brown’s Farm was purchased by Henry A.C. Taylor in 1902. The home was used as a support residence for Glen Farm until the early 1950’s when the Taylor family began renting it out as income property. The home remained a rental property until 1988.

The Town requested proposals from non-profit entities interested in refurbishing the Brown House in exchange for a multi-year lease. The Friends of the Brown House is a motivated non-profit group of Portsmouth residents that have come together to save the historical and cultural significance of the Brown House. Previous proposals for the use of the Brown House had met resistance because they called for privatization or exclusion of the general public. Our intention is to refurbish the Brown House and utilize it as a Cultural Community Center dedicated to the enhancement of the Glen Farm Complex.

Our proposal goes beyond saving an historic home. Our intention is to create “ The Front Porch of Portsmouth”. This home will not only symbolize our past but also our future as a community. We ask for your support to save the Brown House and to assist us in our efforts to bring our community together.

Operational Scope:

 The Brown House and its property will be utilized in the four following fashions.

     The upstairs section of the main house has three rooms that will be offered to non profit agencies or Portsmouth Sport teams as office space. There will be a monthly rental fee to offset maintenance costs of the structure. We anticipate that each office would hold no more than three employees. Hours of operation would be typical 9-5 PM Monday through Friday. 

1st Floor:
        The first floor of the main house would be used as conference and meeting areas for local groups.  There are two large rooms that could accommodate a medium group of 10- 25 people (based on fire regulations)  and one that would sit 8-15 comfortably. We have proposed working with the Portsmouth Historical Society to rotate pictures and exhibits into the 1st floor for educational purposes.  We may also name specific rooms after individuals that have a historical significance to the house, such as Mr. Manual Camera who lived in the Brown House for 60 years and was the farm foreman. 

Ell Section:
        The 1st floor of the ell section will be refurbished and opened as a concession stand. The hours of operation will be based on peak usage of the fields and other events.  The second floor of the ell section could be used for office, meeting or storage space. 

Back Yard:
        The Brown House back yard is bordered by a beautiful stone wall. We intend to utilize this back area as a setting for picnics, farmer’s market, clambakes, concerts, Easter egg hunts, art fairs/shows or other community oriented events that would blend in with the ambiance of the farm. We will develop a nominal fee structure for groups willing to rent the yard for such events. A back deck will most likely be constructed to enhance access and value to the home.

Funding and Construction:  

There have been numerous conversations and articles written concerning the repair costs of the Brown House.  As a group of resident volunteers we feel very strongly that other residents will join our group and assist us in the construction effort.  Through a volunteer effort and reduced contractor rates by licensed contractors we anticipate that the final costs for the construction would not exceed $300,000.  This money will be raised through grants such as teaching the youth of Newport County the skills of carpentry and restoration. 

We have received some grants and will be pursuing more, along with corporate sponsorships and donations. The Friends of the Leonard Brown House at Glen Farm, Inc. is a non-profit, community organization [501(c)(3)]. Donations to us are tax deductible.

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