WARWICK, R.I. — Julie M. LeBlanc has moved several times, but her homes have all been on the same street: Herbert Street.
“The number one thing about the neighborhood is it’s close-knit,” she said. “We all watch out for each other.”
That neighborhood is Chepiwanoxet, a compact area connected to the rest of the city by a single street in and out of the residential community, Chepiwanoxet Way.
It’s easy to know your neighbors in Chepiwanoxet: it stretches less than a mile from the southern tip to the northern end. Chepiwanoxet extends east of Post Road to Greenwich Bay. The neighborhood is bordered on the north by Neptune Street, and down south by Alger Street, close to the town line with East Greenwich.
Homes that once served as summer cottages overlook Greenwich Bay. Small boats and kayaks line the thin stretches of beach, and small boats are moored in the bay.
LeBlanc, a Realtor, noted that currently there are no homes for sale in the neighborhood.
When properties are put on the market, prices vary widely in an inventory that runs the gamut, from multi-families to small summer cottages and large beach houses. Waterfront homes can be priced as high as $700,000, while homes with no waterfront will come closer to $200,000, she said.
Every July 3, the neighborhood gathers for an Independence Day celebration on the beach, LeBlanc said.
“Everybody who has left comes back” for the festivities, she said. “The people who come into the neighborhood love it, and they respect it.”
Although some of the homes there could be considered mansions, LeBlanc said “There’s no loftiness” in the neighborhood, which includes retirees as well as young families.
Chepiwanoxet Point, a 10-acre city park, is on the neighborhood’s eastern shore, a popular fishing and quahogging spot. Visitors are greeted by an information panel and can take short trails to the shoreline.
The panel also informs people about the point’s history, and the Gallaudet Aircraft Corp. Edson Gallaudet and a brother, Denison, opened a seaplane factory on the point in 1915.
“Edson organized the first aircraft engineering office and became the first manufacturer of airplanes in the U.S,” according to the panel.
The company also built a battlecruiser that was used during World War I.
Neil Williams Ross, who calls himself a local historian and is a descendant of Roger Williams, traces the history of the point further back.
Native Americans fished off the point when it was still a small island in Greenwich Bay. They named the island Chepiwanoxet, which translates to “devil’s island,” he said, adding he is not sure why it was named so.
When Gallaudet decided to build the factory, the company built a causeway to connect the island with the mainland, Ross said. When the plant closed, buildings on the peninsula went into disrepair.
Ross’s family purchased land at Chepiwanoxet in 1910 and built a home there.
“We’ve had seven generations that have used the place over the summers,” he said.
Ross has seen the community change since the 1940s, when he was a child playing on the Chepiwanoxet beach.
He still remembers when a building that LeBlanc now owns and rents out was a hotel for summer vacationers. He remembers how Hurricane Carol in 1954 decimated the trees on Chepiwanoxet Point.
He also remembers when, in the 1980s, the point attracted the attention of developers who imagined condominiums with sweeping views of the bay.
But the neighborhood association along with environmental groups fought to preserve the point.
In 1994, the land was purchased by the City of Warwick for $485,000, and then-Mayor Lincoln Chafee dedicated the opening of Chepiwanoxet Point as a city park.
“We’re very pleased that the neighborhood banded together to protect the island,” Ross said.
Another attraction of Chepiwanoxet is its wildlife. Cormorants dry their wings on moorings. Eagles fly there as well, Ross said.
One of LeBlanc’s new tenants has noticed wild turkeys, and at another time, called about the barking dogs.
“Those are probably the coyotes,” LeBlanc told her tenant. The animals follow the railroad tracks that run parallel to Post Road in Chepiwanoxet.
On Twitter: @CarolKozma