2010-09-02 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright
If you’re a member of the JHS, you have a special treat coming up this month. On Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m., the Society will hold its annual members-only house tour preview party. The site of this year’s party is the Red House at 5 Alden Rd. on Shoreby Hill.

The Red House, named for its unusual red-stained shingles, was constructed in 1898 and was one of the first houses built in the Shoreby Hill “suburb” – as its St. Louis-based developers called their carefully planned summer community.

The house, designed by Newport architect Creighton Withers for Mrs. Henry S. Potter of St. Louis, is a singularly compact rectangular mass. The porches are recessed into the house proper rather than built out from it, and the supporting beams are covered in the same red shingles as the rest of the house. Five succeeding generations enjoyed the house, which descended – mostly on the distaff side – to the Kerns, the Dodges, the Wilkinsons and the Whartons.

Paul and Suzi Andrews purchased the house in 2006, and completely renovated it. In addition to restoring and repairing much of the original woodwork and fixtures, they added a large family room/kitchen to the rear of the house.

Reservations are required. Send an email to jhs@jamestownri. com or leave a message at 423-0784, giving us your name, telephone number and the number in your party. If you’re not currently a member, you can pay your dues at the door. The $40 ticket for the preview party also includes a ticket to the next day’s house tour.

The house is not on Saturday’s house tour, so this is your only chance to visit and tour the newly renovated home. Don’t miss it.

Annual house tour

Saturday, Sept. 18, is the Society’s annual house tour. In keeping with this year’s theme of agriculture in Jamestown, the house tour features the Cottrell farmhouse. The farmhouse, reached by a quarter-mile-long drive from Hamilton Avenue, was built soon after the American Revolution, in approximately 1786.

It was once the heart of a large farm that included most of the land in the Dumplings and stretched across the island to include the area near Ft. Getty and West Ferry. In the late 19th century, Frederick Cottrell joined other Jamestowners to develop the area, selling much of the rocky promontory south of his farmhouse to the Ocean Highlands Company.

The family kept the 32 acres surrounding the farmhouse, and these are still farmed. Access to the farm – with its alpacas, goats and chickens – is included on the tour.

The houses will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets, available on site, are $20. Join us and enjoy a look at how Jamestown farmers lived over the centuries.

Smithsonian Magazine museum day

Sept. 25 is the sixth annual Smithsonian Magazine museum day. On this day, participating museums across the country open their doors for free to anyone presenting a museum day ticket. Twenty-six museums across Rhode Island – including the JHS museum, meetinghouse, windmill and Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, as well as several museums in Newport and North Kingstown – are participating.

All sites will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The JHS sites will stay open until 4 p.m., our usual closing time. To find out about other nearby museums or get a ticket, go to http://microsite. smithsonianmag.com/museumday. Tickets are needed to get into museums that would normally charge admission, which the JHS sites do not.

New mini exhibits

The Society mounted new exhibits this month at the library and at the Lawn Avenue School.

The exhibit at the library features headwear from across two centuries, ranging from a reproduction of a Revolutionary War tricorne, which is used in our Battery Day celebrations, to a Jamestown Bridge Construction Crew baseball cap from the 1980s.

A peaked hat with the insignia of Jamestown Ferry Division was part of the uniform worn by James E. Pemantell (1915-1990) when he worked for the Jamestown & Newport Ferry Company.

A variety of signs from the early and mid-20th century are on display at the school. Signs from the ferries, the old Jamestown Bridge and the Newport Bridge (before it changed its name to the Claiborne Pell Bridge) show the changing modes of transportation to and from the island. Prisoner of war, Ft. Wetherill and Battery Mitchell signs, as well as a photograph of the large Roll of Honor that contained the names of the more than 300 Jamestowners who served in World War II, underline the island’s military history.

New officers

Society members who attended the JHS annual meeting on Aug. 12 elected officers for the coming year. Linnea Petersen, for many years the treasurer of the Society and most recently, the board member responsible for the windmill, was elected president. Dianne Rugh, currently a member of the collections committee and an experienced archivist, is the new vice president.

Rosemary Enright, who has been president for the past five years, succeeded John Horton as secretary, and Tricia Evangelista was re-elected treasurer.

Larry McDonald, an active member of the Friends of the Conanicut Battery, and current directors Dick Allphin, John Horton and Sally Schott were elected to the Board for terms ending in 2013, and Mary Heath, after a year’s hiatus, was re-elected for a two-year term.

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