We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.
Sponsored by:
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Sponsored by:
Get directions
Address: 57 Peirce St, East Greenwich, RI 02818-3338
Phone Number:
+1 401-884-1776
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

It was 1773 when James Mitchell Varnum purchased a large plot of land...

It was 1773 when James Mitchell Varnum purchased a large plot of land overlooking Greenwich Bay in East Greenwich, RI, for the sum of $90. Varnum, a gifted 24 year-old lawyer, did not buy the property solely for the view, but also because it sat behind the Kent County Courthouse (now East Greenwich Town Hall) where the most powerful and influential colonial leaders frequently met. As a prominent figure in the Revolutionary War and early-American politics, Varnum attracted a “who’s who” of guests to his mansion including George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Rochambeau, John Sullivan, Nathanael Greene, and many others.

This house museum contains numerous historical artifacts ranging from the late 17th century through the mid 19th century. The Varnum House Museum is open format, meaning that very few exhibits are behind glass or ropes. It is as if you’re touring the house as it appeared in the late 18th century! The Varnum House Museum’s exhibits focus on early American furniture, household items, musical instruments, children’s toys, documents, paintings, and much more. Some of the more impressive exhibits include a 1690 officer’s chair, a 1794 pianoforte made by William Frecker of London, a miniature punch bowl gifted from General Lafayette to Varnum as a housewarming present, and General Varnum’s own desk.

A very unique aspect of the house’s exhibits is the large number of historical items sourced from the Far East, including China, Japan, Persia (now Iran), and more. This includes Chinese punch bowls and dinner ware dating to the 18th century, hand-carved ivory sewing kits, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper dating to the early 19th century, and Persian reverse-glass paintings dating to the 18th century.

read more

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 6 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 3
  • 3
    Very good
  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Once upon a time....

Stepping back in time invites one to use all of one's senses, not just visual appreciation. Attending a wedding at this lovely and lovingly preserved building and grounds... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed August 11, 2016
Rangeley, Maine
Add Photo Write a Review

6 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Showing 6: English reviews
Rangeley, Maine
Level Contributor
169 reviews
50 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2016

Stepping back in time invites one to use all of one's senses, not just visual appreciation. Attending a wedding at this lovely and lovingly preserved building and grounds, elicited both sadness and joy: nostalgia for what was once grand and spacious and appreciation for preservation of what was once grand & spacious. Although the gardens and the house are not... More 

Thank DaisyDiva07
Warwick, RI
Level Contributor
69 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 11, 2015

Outstanding example of colonial architecture. General Varnum's house was built between 1773 and 1779. Many historical artifacts inside. Open most weekends for tours or other dates by appointment that can be made through website at: www.vernumcontinentals.org

Thank DTrimmer
Coventry, Rhode Island
Level Contributor
1,832 reviews
429 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 403 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 1, 2015

when you go to this location make sure you check out the history behind this home and its area. could it be that the father of this country stayed here? People in the know say,YES..If you like history or want to show your children what it was like to live a long time ago this is must go to place... More 

Thank Barry N
Warwick, Rhode Island
Level Contributor
21 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 7, 2015

Rumor has it that George Washington stayed in this house twice as he was good friends with General Varnum and would regularly visit him between his New York-Boston trips. The museum has many items that are truly well preserved, including Chinese Art (very rare at the time). The University of Rhode Island also uses the grounds to grow medicinal &... More 

Thank Jennifer W
Hamilton, New Zealand
Level Contributor
164 reviews
84 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 2, 2014 via mobile

The museum interior was a pleasant surprise. They have some great chinese pieces which I loved, some interesting art and the rooms are all very different from each other. It has a very lived in feel and the tour guide really knows a lot about the history of the pieces and the house itself. Being close to town and surrounded... More 

Thank qofdnz
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 17, 2012

An interesting local historical site. A great spot to learn some local history. Guided tour available.

1 Thank Jason B

Travelers who viewed Varnum House Museum also viewed

East Greenwich, South County
East Greenwich, South County
East Greenwich, South County

Been to Varnum House Museum? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing

Questions & Answers

Questions? Get answers from Varnum House Museum staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?