2007-05-10 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright

The renovation of the interior of the museum has begun! I know some of you have noticed, because I've received a couple of telephone calls asking why the windows were boarded up. If you could see the inside, you'd be even more startled. The front room is empty and the walls are bare, revealing the old plaster and wainscoting.

Bill Burgin of Burgin Lambert, Inc., Newport, the designer of the new town hall and past president of JHS, designed the renovation. We've hired Coastal Restorations, Inc., of Newport to do the work and to help us preserve as much of the historical fabric of the building as possible. The renovation will proceed in two phases:

Phase I, to be completed this spring, will include the installation of insulation and an environmental control system. The windows are out being restored right now. When they're reinstalled, outer storm windows will be placed over them to protect them from further deterioration.

A heat exchange system will provide cooling in the summer and heat in the winter. An emergency exit door has already been roughed in to replace the northernmost window on the east side of the building. Most of the bookshelves - relics of the time when the museum was the town library - will be preserved in the back room, which will be our workroom. The plaster is being patched. The woodwork is being repaired. And finally the downstairs rooms will be painted.

Phase II is planned for the fall and will address the building's exterior. A handicap access ramp will be built along the east side of the museum; the ramp will lead to a new stone terrace across the right front of building. New steps from the street will have a gentler rise than the current stoop stairs. The exterior of the building will be scraped, repaired as necessary, and repainted. New signage and landscaping are also planned.

In preparation for the renovation, the entire collection in the museum has been removed to interim sites. As we move it back to the museum and to the new vault in the town hall, the volunteers on the collections committee, with help from two summer interns from the College of the Holy Cross, will be carefully checking the data in the computerized catalog to make sure that everything is properly described and appropriately photographed.

The Jamestown Museum is boarded up in preparation for a spring makeover. Photo courtesy the Jamestown Historical Society The Jamestown Museum is boarded up in preparation for a spring makeover. Photo courtesy the Jamestown Historical Society The two-phase approach was decided on in order to have the museum open this summer. Our exhibit this year, The Jamestown Bridge 1940-2007, Concept to Demolition, is sponsored by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and mounted in cooperation with the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. The opening of the exhibit on June 30 will be a party to celebrate both the exhibit and our first chance to show off the newly renovated interior of our museum. The festivities will start at 1 p.m. Make a note on your calendar now.

Battery Day Saturday, March 12, is Battery Day. The Friends of the Conanicut Battery, with support from the JHS, are celebrating early this year to coincide with the spring Jamestown Cub Scout Pack 1, Fort Getty Camporee. Formal activities begin at 11 a.m., with a serenade of martial tunes by the Jamestown Community


There'll be lots to see and hear. The Cub Scouts, joined by some of the Boy Scouts from Jamestown Troop 1, will march from Fort Getty to join in the celebration. The Newport Artillery will fire cannon salutes across the West Passage. Representatives of France and Great Britain, whose troops occupied the Battery during the Revolution, will raise the flags of their countries. We'll sing The Star-Spangled Banner while Jamestown's American Legion and VFW units raise the American flag.

Plan to stay on after the flag raising to visit with Captain Tew and his Company of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, Continental Line, at their Revolutionary War encampment. They'll show you what it was like to live out of a tent during the long fight for independence.

Horsehead in July

Planning for the big capital campaign fundraiser on July 28 at Horsehead is well underway. A horse and carriage ride up the original sweeping entryway to the house is planned as the beginning of a wonderful, fun experience. I'll have more details in later columns, but in the meantime, don't forget to reserve the day.

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