2011-01-20 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News

By Rosemary Enright

Happy New Year! The JHS is starting off 2011 with a collaborative effort with the Jamestown Philomenian Library, the Teen Center, the Jamestown Arts Center, and the Jamestown Community Theatre to focus on Jamestown and the movies. We hope to get more local organizations involved as we go along.

Jamestown and the Silver Screen

We’re calling our year-long effort “Jamestown and the Silver Screen,” although what we’re planning goes beyond the movies. Our logo for the series is based on a concept put forward by Debbie Tungett of the Teen Center.

We’ll use the logo for the first time at a JHS exhibit at the Lawn Avenue School of posters and photographs of movies made in – or with major scenes in – Jamestown. The most recent major movie made here is “Dan in Real Life,” released in 2007, although at least one other film is “in the can.” “Dan in Real Life” is tentatively scheduled for screening at the Jamestown Arts Center in the spring. The opening program of the series will be Feb. 4. As part of Black History Month, the film “Traces of the Trade” will be shown at 7 p.m., at the library. The film tells the story of the DeWolf family, the most important slave-trading family in Rhode Island history, as 10 DeWolf descendants trace the history of their ancestors. Jamestowner Elizabeth Delude-Dix was executive producer of this film and will lead a discussion after the screening. The Friends of the Jamestown Library and the Jamestown Historical Society are co-sponsoring the film and the discussion. From March to May, the Teen Center will sponsor workshops to help teens make videos. The videos produced, each of which must relate in some way to Jamestown, will be shown in May. Teens will be invited to a special screening of “Dan in Real Life” and Jamestowners involved in the film will be there to answer questions. For those who enter videos, JHS has arranged a private house tour of Riven Rock, the house where the movie was filmed.

On March 31, Steven Feinberg, executive director of the Rhode Island Film and Television Office, will be at the library to talk about how his office attracts directors and producers to make their films and television programs in Rhode Island. He’ll also talk about location selection. The program, sponsored by the JHS, begins at 7 p.m.

The Jamestown Book Discussion Group is reading biographies of Emily Dickinson for their meetings on April 18 at 7 p.m., and April 19 at 1 p.m. On April 29 at 1 p.m., the group will show “Loaded Gun: Life, Death and Dickinson,” a documentary by former Jamestowner Jim Wolpaw. A discussion will follow the screening of the 60-minute film.

The summer exhibit in the Jamestown Museum will expand the focus of the series to include the history of Jamestown stage shows and the Palace Theater, now the Bomes Theater Mall on Narragansett Avenue. We’re beginning to collect memories of the theater; so if you remember going to movies, stage shows or other events there, please call Sue Maden at 423-2167 or e-mail sdmaden@aol.com.

We don’t have dates yet – or in some cases sponsors – for other potential programs. We’re working on a showing of the film “Rose- Marie,” which stars Nelson Eddy, whose family lived on High Street; a 1940’s dance with snippets from “Crash Dive¬ł” a movie released in 1943 whose stars, Tyrone Power and Dana Andrews, hung out on Jamestown; and a screening of “Wind,” which used many extras and some scenes from Jamestown.


In the mid 1880s, Henry Audley Clarke built a home at 305 Beavertail Road on the Clarke’s Prospect Hill Farm. Clarke was a descendent of Jeremiah Clarke, one of the original purchasers of Conanicut Island.

His son, Audley Clarke, developed the property in the 1920s as the Beavertail Golf and Country Club, using “Wyndsweepe,” as most of the records call the house, as the clubhouse. The club failed during World War II, and the house was destroyed.

Before the house was torn down, the large wooden plaque – 30 inches wide by 70 inches high – that was attached to the chimney was removed. A shield with the initials HAC is in the center of the plaque surrounded by the word “Winswepe” and the date “A.D. 1885.” The artifact remained in the family until last month when Audley Clarke’s granddaughter, Sallie Richard of San Diego, presented it to the JHS.

We are designing an exhibit of large signs from Jamestown’s era as a summer resort for display in the back stairwell of the Town Hall starting this spring or early summer. The new “Winswepe” plaque will be displayed along with signs from and photographs of the resort hotels.

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