Town of ExeterUpdated Demographic and Economic Characteristics
* Annual information for 2000-2010 is available by downloading this Excel file
675 Ten Rod Rd.
Exeter, RI 02822
Hours: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
- Established: 1641
- Incorporated: 1742
- Form of government: Five-member town council
- Council meetings: First Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
- Fiscal year begins: July 1
A summary profile of Census 2000 characteristics is available from the RI Office of Statewide Planning at: http://www.planning.ri.gov/census/citytown.htm
Hyperlinks provided by the Office of Municipal Affairs, Rhode Island Department of Administration.
- Exeter municipal departments and officials
- Find Exeter's state senator and representative
- Town of Exeter homepage
- Ladd school redevelopment
- Area points of interest and attractions: please visit the state tourism website
In the early 1600s the colonial settlements of North Kingstown and East Greenwich referred to the area west of the Connecticut boundary as the “Vacant Lands” because there were no colonial settlements in the area. This large area of land consisted of the communities of West Greenwich, northern parts of South Kingstown, Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton and Exeter. However, this tract of land was by no means “vacant,” it was a stronghold of the Narragansett Indians. The decline of the Narragansetts probably began with the famous Pettaquamscutt Land Purchase in 1657. Sixty-four thousand acres of land was purchased from the Narragansetts by land speculators for the small sum of goods worth approximately $175, although hostility still remained in the area. After many intense battles between the colonists and the Indians, the Great Swamp fight broke the stronghold of the Indian Empire in the "Vacant Lands." Indian survivors of the Great Swamp Fight were later massacred in the Town of Natick, on the Pawtucket River. This massacre brought an end to Indian supremacy in this area.
From 1680 to 1725, the first permanent settlers of Exeter began to carve homesteads and farms out of the wilderness. The town expanded rapidly and by 1740, approximately 1,000 people were living in Exeter. By 1820, the population had tripled, and villages grew in the lowlands where streams were located, providing a source of power for the mills and small factories. Grist mills, saw mills, stores, blacksmith shops, warp factories, flannel mills and cotton mills sprang up throughout the villages.
With the advent of the 1900s, many of the villages began to decline. The factories were closing, the population decreased and many stores and shops were abandoned or converted for other uses. By 1930, this way of life was practically nonexistent. Today, Exeter is primarily a rural community. A distinctly elegant and charming countryside, the wooded hills, clear streams and lakes, plus a multitude of wild life make this a most desirable spot for a country home site. Several old homes and farms are still in existence in Exeter giving the town a quaintness all its own.