2010-06-10 / Island History

Summer is the time to take in some island history

Jamestown Historical Society News
By Rosemary Enright

June is an important month for the Jamestown Historical Society. All of our sites open in June. We’re getting them ready now.


The re-built sails went back up at the windmill on June 3. For almost five hours, our millwright, Andy Shrake, worked with the Conanicut Marine lift operator to hoist the sails and guide the stocks through the windshaft.

Conanicut Marine’s Bill Munger volunteered the use of his boat-lifting equipment to help with the installation. The Mungers are very busy at this time of year, and we are especially grateful for Bill’s help. Sav Rebbechi videoed the whole thing for the Jamestown Record; you can see clips at jamestownrecord. com.

Andy Shrake and his crew will be back around June 10 to paint the exposed part of the windshaft and do some touch-up work. Then, the mill will be ready to open for the season.

Millwright Andy Shrake and his crew worked almost five hours to restore the stocks to the Jamestown Windmill recently, just in time for the windmill’s June 19 opening. Photos courtesy of the Jamestown Historical Society Millwright Andy Shrake and his crew worked almost five hours to restore the stocks to the Jamestown Windmill recently, just in time for the windmill’s June 19 opening. Photos courtesy of the Jamestown Historical Society Visitors will be welcome at the 1787 windmill every Saturday and Sunday between 1 and 4 p.m. from June 19 through Columbus Day. Greg Zeek of Zeek’s Creek Bait and Tackle has once again volunteered to help us with the logistics for opening and closing the mill each weekend. Of course, we’ll always open up by appointment. Just call the museum at 423-0784 – if no one is there, our message will direct you to a different number – or email jhs@jamestownri.com.

And don’t forget Windmill Day on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Open house at

Quaker Meetinghouse

The summer season has already begun at the meetinghouse. The Conanicut Friends meet there every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. On June 19 – the same day as the opening of the windmill – members of the group will host the Quaker meetinghouse annual open house from 1 to 4 p.m.

Jamestown is rich in Quaker history. Many of the earliest settlers practiced that faith. A Quaker meetinghouse was the only house of worship on the island from 1704, when Quakers built their first meetinghouse, until 1833, when the town built a 200- seat hall in the artillery green/ cemetery at the Four Corners for all denominations to use.

The current meetinghouse was built in 1786 to replace an earlier building destroyed by the British during the American Revolution.

During the open house, Friends will tell you about the history of the Society of Friends and explain the unprogrammed worship practices of the faith.

Jamestown Museum

On Memorial Day, the museum was decked out in buntings and flags, with a poster for the museum exhibit, “Farm Life in Jamestown: A Look at Our Farms, Past and Present” on the steps.

The exhibit is still a work in progress. The 19th-century barn loom that some of you will remember from 20 years ago is up and will be functioning as part of the exhibit. We are hoping to arrange some weaving demonstrations on the loom during July and August. If you’re a weaver and would like to participate, call 423-2674.

The museum won’t officially open until June 20, but students at the Lawn Avenue and Melrose Avenue schools will have a sneak preview the week before. After opening day, the museum will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m., until Labor Day weekend and then for the same hours on weekends until mid-October.

New library exhibit

“Greetings From Jamestown: Wish You Were Here.” Since at least the 1880s, residents and visitors to Jamestown have collected souvenirs of their visits and the events they attended. Postcards are probably the most common mementos, but keepsakes take many forms – from Christmas tree ornaments to T-shirts to ashtrays. The exhibit in the JHS display case at the Jamestown Philomenian Library greets the summer season with a display of souvenirs and postcards from our collection.

The case is on the south wall of the lobby under the pass-through to the children’s room. Stop and take a look the next time you’re in the library.


Whenever the windmill or museum is open, a volunteer is there to greet the public and answer questions. Being a volunteer at the JHS sites is not onerous. It’s only a three-hour commitment on one day between June 20 and Oct. 10, and both sites offer interesting things to do during your stay. Email jhs@jamestownri.com or call 423-0784 to volunteer.


Our pleas for computers have been answered! In the last two weeks, we have received three computers – two from Victor Bell at EPI and one from Diane Del Bonis.

Victor was encouraged to make his donation by Don Haskell, who does EPI’s computer maintenance. Don was wiping all the data off the computers in preparation for sending them to a recycling center and realized that they were in good enough condition to satisfy the needs of the historical society. When he brought that to Victor’s attention, Victor was more than happy to “repurpose” rather than recycle.

Diane read our plea in this column and, since she was upgrading, called to say she would give us the machine but that she didn’t know how to delete all the data. Could we do that? Joe Logan, a Collections Committee member, could and did clean the disk before delivering the computer to the museum for use there.

We thank everyone involved.

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