The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum is situated on 23 acres in the woods of Saunderstown, Rhode Island on a beautiful millpond and stream, surrounded by gardens, woodland hiking trails, fresh water fishing and more!
Birthplace & Snuff Mill
Take a step back in time when you visit the 1750 home and snuff mill of the Stuart family and learn about the life of one of America ‘s best-known portraitists. This authentically restored eighteenth century, gambrel-roofed workingman’s home is furnished with period antiques. It is a showplace for reproductions of Stuart’s works. Beneath the window of Gilbert’s tiny room, water diverted from the millpond turns the huge wooden undershot waterwheel. Watch the wooden gears turn to power the snuff mill which was used to grind locally grown tobacco in colonial times. Stuart’s Birthplace is unique because it was both a family dwelling and a place of industry. This is the site of the first snuff mill in the American colonies.
The Stuart family lived here and operated the snuff mill for eleven years until 1761 when they moved to Newport. Many families lived in the Birthplace over the next 170 years. By the late 1920’s, the Birthplace had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition. Local art-lovers formed a group to save the Birthplace from destruction. They raised money and purchased the buildings and grounds in 1930. The Birthplace was restored under the direction of architect Norman Isham, a renowned specialist in colonial restoration. A new waterwheel was built, exactly like the old one. An authentic 1700’s snuff mill was installed in the exact spot of the original in the basement of the family home.