2015-04-09 / Senior Savvy

Legacy Lives in Henderson Home

By Florence Archambault


The Henderson Home for Aged Men has been serving the city's elderly for more than a century. Pictured with benefactor William H. Henderson are manager Darlene Roderick and Dave Roderick , of the city commission that owns the property. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The Henderson Home for Aged Men has been serving the city's elderly for more than a century. Pictured with benefactor William H. Henderson are manager Darlene Roderick and Dave Roderick , of the city commission that owns the property. (Photo by Jack Kelly) There are several ways to obtain immortality. One is to be memorialized in history books and another is in family lore. As generations pass, family lore can be lost, but a great way to be remembered is to get your name placed on something; that is what Newporter William H. Henderson did more than 100 years ago.

The Henderson Home for Aged Men was established at 14 Clarke St. under his will on April 2, 1909. Utilizing his bequest, the city bought the Ezra Stiles house and it opened for residents on Sept. 1, 1910. Today, the Henderson remains a haven for seven elderly men.

The Ezra Stiles house was built in 1776 for the pastor of the Second Congregational Church across the street, now converted condos. The purchase of the land and buildings and the cost to repair and adapt the property for use as a multi-unit home, with furnishings, ran around $15,000. The house is on the National Historic Register.


Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 84 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Henderson was born in Newport on Nov. 1, 1810. He was educated in the private school of Judge Joseph Joslin in Newport and spent some time at Brown University. He later went on to serve as confidential clerk and bookkeeper for Samuel Fowler Gardner, who was agent and treasurer of the three largest cotton manufacturers in Newport: the Coddington, Perry, and Newport mills. Henderson went to Providence in 1848 and served as bookkeeper, secretary and treasurer for what would become the American Screw Co.

He was a clerk of the Newport Artillery Co., also on Clarke Street, and participated in an encampment at the Chepachet Meeting House during the Dorr Rebellion.

The Henderson Home is operated by five commissioners appointed by the mayor and the City Council. Operating expenses are provided by rental income, trusts, and investments, with some support from the city.

In a 1914 report to the city, the commissioners petitioned for permission to build an addition to the home, asserting “that the accumulated income will bring the cost of the entire plant when completed within the limit established for that purpose by Mr. Henderson’s will. The addition will give much needed laundry facilities and additional bathroom accommodations for inmates and servants.”

The Henderson Home now boasts seven rooms and some shared bathrooms. It is nonsmoking and residents must be at least 55 years old and able to live independently. They are responsible for the maintenance of their own rooms and laundry. There are income restrictions, and there are no provisions for daily medical care or the dispensing of medications.

Darlene Roderick, the live-in manager (who answers to the Board of Commissioners) says the Henderson Home is like a boarding house and that she feels she functions as the landlady. The home is comfortable, well-kept, and furnished nicely. Residents can come and go as they please.

Meals include a continental breakfast, dinner at noon, and soup and sandwiches for the evening meals. A portrait of Mr. Henderson hangs in the formal dining room, surveying the results of his legacy.

Tucked away in the lovely green house, with its portico and pillars, flush on the sidewalk at 14 Clarke St., William H. Henderson lives on.

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