RIPR in the Classroom: How They Lived 326 Years Ago

Aug 14, 2017

The Clemence-Irons house is one of the oldest homes in Rhode Island.
Credit Chuck Hinman

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Story Synopsis

Some of the oldest houses in the United States are found in New England, and were built in the 1630s. One of the oldest houses in Rhode Island was built in 1691 and is called the Clemence-Irons House. Located in the suburban town of Johnston, the house is one of the few remaining artifacts of Rhode Island’s colonial past. Like most colonial houses, the Clemence-Irons House is representative of the European architecture and building materials that colonists were accustomed to using. Listen to learn more about the historic house and what it has to teach us about colonial history. 


Inside the house, a large fireplace would have served to heat the structure and cook food.
Credit Chuck Hinman

Use with grades 6-9

Common Core State Standards CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.2: Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Listening Comprehension Questions Assign these questions to your students or answer them together in a group.

  1. How did the Clemence-Irons House get its name?
  2. What was the original purpose of the house?
  3. Describe the European architecture features and building materials of this colonial home.
  4. In what ways is the Clemence-Irons House a story of immigration?
  5. What does the Clemence-Irons House tell us about how people lived in Rhode Island in the 1700s?

Discussion Themes Use these questions to get students thinking at the beginning of class. They can use evidence from the story to support their ideas during a class discussion.

  1. Do you think it is important to preserve historic sites such as the Clemence-Irons House? Why or why not?
  2. Can you think of ways that a city or town can develop and grow without losing its artifacts and history?

More Resources

Curriculum Connections:

  • The Perils of Peace: America’s Struggle for Survival, Thomas Fleming (2007)
  • An American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783, William Fowler (2011)