2008-07-03 / News

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright

SCHOOL DAYS !! How Jamestown Taught Its Children, the 2008 summer exhibit at the Jamestown Historical Society museum opened June 29 to a very enthusiastic response. A steady stream of visitors came in and out, pausing on the new deck- since food and drink aren't allowed in the museum- to be served lemonade and cookies by Isabella Zainyeh, Brooke Warner, and Heidi Sakovits from Jamestown Troop 612.

The exhibit, curated by Harry Wright, traces the history of school education in Jamestown from the colonial period- when home teaching by parents or itinerant schoolmasters was the only option- to the late 20th century. The age of one-room schoolhouses receives special attention because the museum building itself began as a one-room schoolhouse for the primary grades. It housed schoolchildren for only a dozen years, but the flooring where the walls of the cloakroom were removed and the screw holes in the floor where the desks and chairs were fastened are enduring evidence of the building's original purpose.

Class photos over the years- one showing the kindergarten class in 1913- present vivid pictures of the styles of the last century. The high school students took the ferry to Newport until 1969, and ferryboat models and memorabilia recall their adventures.

Isabella Zainyeh, Brooke Warner, and Heidi Sakovits of Jamestown Troop 612 served lemonade and cookies to visitors at the Jamestown Historical Society Museum opening day celebration. Isabella Zainyeh, Brooke Warner, and Heidi Sakovits of Jamestown Troop 612 served lemonade and cookies to visitors at the Jamestown Historical Society Museum opening day celebration. Some of the pictures in the exhibit come from the Historical Society collection; others were borrowed and scanned for the exhibit from the collections of Jane Bentley, Archie Clarke, Dolores Christman, Judith Garlick, and Patty Vandel. A desk from the Carr School and busts that decorated the Clarke School are on loan from Linda Warner and from the Town of Jamestown respectively. Thank you.

The museum is open every Wednesday through Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m. through August. The girls of Jamestown Troop 612 have volunteered to be greeters along with the adult docents on Sundays throughout the summer. They were a big help at the opening and we are looking forward to their continuing participation.


The windmill opened as scheduled on June 16. On the first day, several Jamestowners stopped by saying, "I've been by here so many times but this is the first time it's been open." The windmill is open every Saturday and Sunday during the summer- this year, June 16 to September 16- from 1 to 4 p.m. Please stop by. We have some booklets at the mill that explain how it works, and the signs on the equipment tell you what each piece was used for. Visitors can go all the way up to the bonnet (that's the rounded part on top) and look at the gears.

If you can't make it during those hours- or have a guest or group who won't be here at our usual times- we'll give a special tour. Just give us sufficient notice so we can arrange for a guide. Send an email to jhs@jamestownri.com or call the museum at 423-0784. We especially like to host school groups, so keep us in mind in the fall.

Membership Campaign

Our summer membership campaign has begun. The campaign kicked off in the Jamestown Press with ads featuring glimpses into the past by longtime island residents Debbie Swistak and Linda Warner. During the campaign, several other well-known islanders will be featured. The JHS hopes to share stories of people, places, and preservation in a way that will be of interest to islanders of all ages.

New membership categories are: Student ($15), Individual ($25), Family ($40), Patron ($500), and The 1657 Society ($1000). The first 100 new members will receive a sterling silver windmill charm, regardless of participation level. In addition, new Patrons will receive an individual lifetime membership and the DVD entitled, Narragansett Avenue: Then and Now, produced and donated to the society by Nick Schaus and Barry Cook. The 1657 Society, referring to the date of the purchase of Conanicut Island, is an entirely new giving level. Participants at this level will receive all of the above, plus a hand-made, customized, house plaque, individually produced by a local craftsman.

Membership forms are published at the bottom of each advertisement in the Jamestown Press, or pick one up when you visit the museum or the windmill.

Visit Us

There're lots of things to enjoy this month. Learn about our schools at SCHOOL DAYS!! Come to the windmill, climb to the top, and look at the huge gears that turn with the wind. Tour the Conanicut Battery Historic Park and see how Jamestown helped protect the bay from 1776 to 1946. Hope we'll see you.

Return to top