2008-05-08 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright

We made it! Let the celebration begin! With the help of many people both on and off of Jamestown, the Jamestown Historical Society raised more than the $500,000 we needed to build the vault in the basement of the new Town Hall, renovate the Jamestown Museum at 92 Narragansett Ave., and establish an endowment. The endowment will produce some of the income necessary to keep the buildings and collections in good shape and to develop programs to put them to good use.

On Sunday, May 11, the museum and the vault will be open so that everybody can see what the results of the campaign have achieved so far. Capital Campaign Committee chairmen, Anne Livingston and John A. Murphy, will be your hosts. Refreshments will be served at the museum, and guides will show you through the basement of the Town Hall to the historical society vault.

Festivities start at 5 p.m. Flags will be raised on the new flagpole in front of the museum about 6 p.m. "Message to the Future" cards will be available for anyone who wants to support our efforts and add a message to the time capsule that will be placed under the floor of the museum.

Thank You

There are so many people and organizations to thank. Over 225 individuals, families, and foundations contributed directly to the campaign. Many of them, plus about 300 others, attended fundraising events. The 14 members of the Campaign Committee - and especially Anne Livingston and John Murphy - worked hard all year. We couldn't have done it without the generous help of our architect Bill Burgin and his colleagues at Burgin Lambert Associates and landscape designer Betty Hubbard.

Because both the vault and the museum are on town property, the support of the town has been very important to us. The town replaced the sewer line and removed the stumps to the east of the museum, which allowed us to put in a beautiful access ramp. The Tree Committee planted two trees that fit in perfectly with Betty Hubbard's landscape design. The positive appraisals of progress from the Town Clerk Arlene Petit and Town Manager Bruce Keiser, whose offices overlook the museum, have been very encouraging.

Thank you all - and many, many more.

Spring Visitors to Windmill Hill

The windmill and Quaker Meetinghouse are attracting visitors even before the official season begins. Walter Akers, the engineer in charge of building a replica of an 18th century windmill in Yorktown, Va., visited in early April to look at and photograph the windmill mechanism. In their promotional literature, the Yorktown Foundation cites the Jamestown mill as the closest in age and general scale to the proposed Yorktown mill and as a model for the structural characteristics of the new mill.

The Jamestown Rotary brought five Rotarians from India to visit both the meetinghouse and the mill on April 30.

May 3 was Tour Rhode Island day. The day, sponsored by the Rhode Island Tourism Division, is aimed at introducing Rhode Islanders to the marvels of their home state. "The Best of Jamestown" was the first of the 24 Tour Rhode Island tours to sell out. The Jamestown windmill and the Friends meetinghouse were two of the historic sites on the tour. Fifty people from all over Rhode Island learned about the Quaker heritage and agricultural history of the island.

Spring Exhibit at Island 10

Cinema

This May and June, the display case in the lobby at the theater at Island 10 Cinema off West Main Road in Middletown features an exhibit by the Jamestown Historical Society of the steam ferries between Jamestown and Newport. When you go to the movies, stop and take a look at the ship's wheel from the J.A.Saunder and models of five of the 15 ferries that carried passengers and vehicles to and from Jamestown between 1873 and 1969.

The Jamestown- Newport ferry service began in the 1670s by Caleb Carr, one of the original purchasers of Conanicut Island, and continued for almost 300 years - the oldest continuous ferry service in the country. The ferries were discontinued in 1969 when the Newport Bridge opened, giving travelers a more convenient - if less relaxing - way to cross Narragansett Bay.

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