Our local history is important. The legacy of this land - our home - defines who we are. Without doubt, the history of Conanicut Island is as varied and colorful as any in New England.
The island has changed dramatically over the centuries. There were the first inhabitants of this chunk of rock, those who we refer to today as the Native Americans. Then came the white settlers, the colonists. There was a revolution. A new nation was established. Peace resumed and the island remained mostly agrarian through the early 1800s.
By the turn of the century, Jamestown had become a haven for tourists seeking to summer next to the ocean. Some 1,000 hotel rooms could be found here and the wealthiest had built themselves impressive summer cottages.
Then came the world wars. What remains of those military fortifications are now island landmarks.
Most recently, we've seen the island change yet again as bridges replaced the ferries, and then a new bridge replaced an old bridge.
Now, the island is again popular with the summer crowd.
The Jamestown Historical Society is the keeper of all this local history. It safeguards the artifacts and preserves the lore that make Jamestown unique. Besides the local museum, the society maintains the windmill, the Quaker meetinghouse, and Conanicut Battery.
The society is asking that islanders contribute to its capital campaign now underway. The money will be used for several purposes. The society will restore the museum on Narragansett Avenue. A secure vault will be constructed to house artifacts in the basement of the new town hall. And a special room will be created at the school where local history caught be shared with our youngsters.
Finally, the society will create an endowment fund to maintain its assets.
The historical society is planning a number of events this spring and summer. Take the opportunity to learn about our island. Please do your share to help finance this worthwhile cause. You can help preserve history for the future.
- Jeff McDonough