The historic Arnolds Mills Community House is an integral part of the community life of the Arnold Mills section of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Constructed in 1809 as a Quaker Meeting House, the original structure was used for worship service by the Friends of Providence for over 117 years.
In June 1926, the property was purchased by Charles S. Hilton for use as a summer residence. In 1940, Ms. Margaret Stearns, the great-granddaughter of Joseph Metcalf, one of the brothers selling the land in 1809, purchased the historic structure. Margaret noted the need for a community center in the suburban Arnold Mills community. The building immediately became a meeting center for the Girl Scouts, local clubs, and in 1941, the second story became the very beginnings of the Cumberland Library.
In 1942, Ms. Stearns established a Trust to assure the availability and continuity of the property for community purposes and to provide for its continued and proper maintenance. The stated purpose of the Trust was, and continues to be, to promote the moral, spiritual, and educational life of the community. By 1960, the very active library service had outgrown its second-story space, and Ms. Streans financed and directed the design and construction of the library wing, which is now the large meeting room.
The continued use by numerous clubs and organizations, as well as the significant number of adults and children who participate in the arts, fine crafts, and educational programs at Arnolds Mills Community House, attests to its significance within the community.
Margaret Stearns was a woman of remarkable philanthropic spirit and commitment to the enlightenment of the community. Arnold Mills – Cumberland will be forever grateful for her foresight and gracious generosity.