One Square Mile: Johnston

Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Beginning Monday January 30th, RIPR brings you "One Square Mile: Johnston," a week of stories about the northern Rhode Island town that flipped the most dramatically from blue to red in the presidential election.

We'll explore the town's politics, learn how to make a true Italian-American meatball and visit some little-known spots that reveal Johnston’s history.

We’ll also report on the state’s largest trash and recycling facility, and Johnston farmers, as they work to keep the town’s agricultural traditions alive. Those stories and much more as we continue Rhode Island Public Radio’s commitment to in-depth local reporting through our recurring series "One Square Mile."

Listen to all the OSM stories via podcast at ripr.org/rss

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The town of Johnston has been a Democratic stronghold for years, but in 2016 Johnston voters gave Republican Donald Trump a decisive 14 point victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. That was the sharpest swing in partisan support since 2012 for any Rhode Island community.

Associated Press

As part of our One Square Mile: Johnston series, RIPR is hosting a public forum: “When A Blue Town Turns Red: Johnston and The Trump Presidency”

When: February 28, 2017 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Where: Johnston Municipal Courthouse, 1600 Atwood Ave, Johnston, RI
Details: Free and open to the public

Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Ochee Spring Quarry in Johnston preserves a record of soapstone bowl-making dating back at least 3,000 years.

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

Opened in 1959, Town Hall Lanes is a staple of Johnston. Birthday parties are commonplace, and local bowling teams are there every weekend. In today’s One Square Mile: Johnston, a postcard from a town favorite.


John Bender / RIPR

King’s Tabernacle Church took the town of Johnston to court last year after town officials appeared to be trying to block the congregation from moving into a long-abandoned building in town. The church, whose congregation is small and largely African American, cited racial bias. But today the community is thriving in the heart of one of the most Italian, Catholic areas of the state.

Ambar Espinoza

In recent years, Rhode Islanders have spotted wild visitors not typically found in the Ocean State: Arctic beluga whales in Narragansett Bay and even snowy owls. It turns out the Central Landfill in Johnston is another draw for wildlife.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment, The Bottom Line.

This week Dave and Mark discuss business development in suburban Johnston, the town that lured Citizens Bank to build a new campus. Governor Gina Raimondo toured the construction site on Thursday. 

Mark and Dave are joined by Realtor Pete Hayes of Cushman & Wakefield/Hayes & Sherry. Haynes ​was involved in the siting of the new FM Global office in Johnston and the new Citizens Bank complex.

Chuck Hinman

Johnston is home to one of the oldest houses in Rhode Island: the Clemence-Irons House, built in 1691. It's right on George Waterman Road, but if you don't slow down, you'll miss it. 

Ximena Conde / RIPR

This week our series "One Square Mile" is getting to know the town of Johnston. And if you’ve ever taken a drive on Greenville Avenue in Johnston, you’ll notice residential homes across the street from working farms. Johnston used to be home to many dairy farms and orchards that over time have dwindled to roughly a dozen working farms.

Elisabeth Harrison

All this week we’re hearing stories from Johnston, the Rhode Island town that flipped the most dramatically from blue to red in the presidential election. 

John Bender / RIPR


Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Right across from the Johnston Town Hall is the home of the Autism Project, a nonprofit that helps kids with autism spectrum disorder learn to cope with their condition. 

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state of Rhode Island in November, but then-candidate Donald Trump beat her by 14 points in Johnston.

One Square Mile Johnston: 100,000 Meatballs

Jan 31, 2017
Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

This week our series "One Square Mile" is shining a light on the town of Johnston. You can’t talk about Johnston without talking about Italians, and some would say you can’t talk about Italians without talking about Italian food. We talk to one expert: a 92-year-old woman who, by her granddaughter's estimate, has made 100,000 meatballs in her lifetime.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Monday we renew a tradition at Rhode Island Public Radio: our recurring series  "One Square Mile." It’s designed to take you deep inside one  Rhode Island community and bring you insights about the people and places of the Ocean State. 

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