2011-08-04 / Island History

Jamestown Historical Society News


The Jamestown Historical Society’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 11, in the Jamestown Philomenian Library meeting room. This year, in keeping with our yearlong “Jamestown and the Silver Screen” theme, our guest speaker is Eugene Lee. Lee is a set, costume and production designer for stage, screen and television.

Eugene Lee

In addition to being resident designer at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence since 1967, Eugene Lee is the production designer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. His film credits include Francis Ford Coppola’s “Hammett,” Danny Huston’s “Mr. North” and Louis Malle’s “Vanya on 42nd Street.”

He has designed sets for many Broadway productions and won three Tony awards: in 1974 for Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” in 1979 for “Sweeney Todd” and in 2004 for “Wicked.” Lee also teaches at Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and Carnegie Mellon University. Asked about his teaching, he said, “You end up adopting half the people you teach. It’s such a funny, hard business to get going in.”

Lee and his wife Brooke live in Providence and have a second home in Jamestown, so we can claim him as our own. He has promised to talk about his experiences designing sets, costumes, and sometimes redesigning the theater itself for the different media: stage, film and television.

The JHS annual business meeting, scheduled for 7 to 7:30 p.m., includes the president‘s report of activities since the last annual meeting and the election of officers and directors for the coming year. Our guest speaker will be introduced at 7:30.

Everyone is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.

“From the Vault”

Back in May, this column announced the first 15-minute installment in an occasional series called “From the Vault” with Sue Maden and Rosemary Enright on Newport County’s PEG Public, Educational, and Governmental Access station. The episode can now be seen on YouTube. There is a link on the JHS website and on the Jamestown Historical Society Facebook page.

A second installment – a tour of this summer’s museum exhibit – has been filmed and will soon be aired on NCTB-18 (Cox 18).

Both installments were filmed by JHS volunteer Patti Cassidy, who is also responsible for uploading the first episode to YouTube.

The Jamestown Museum

Thanks to technical help from Frank Meyer and Bob Saunders, and a $1,000 legislative grant sponsored by Deb Ruggiero, the JHS has brought videos to the museum. The videos come from three sources: historic footage of Jamestown, this year’s fifth-grade history project, and the teen center’s “Jamestown and the Silver Screen” video workshop.

Frank Meyer transferred 12 films and tapes of past Jamestown activities to digital format. The clips range from a 1927 film of a West Passage ferry beached in Sheffi eld Cove to a video of the 2011 Penguin Plunge at Mackerel Cove. One of the longer segments follows the Meyer family as they explore Fort Greble on Dutch Island in 1991. Frank has also digitized Bill Sprague’s taping of the Jamestown Theatre Inc.’s 1982 production of “Love, Sex and the IRS.”

The fifth-graders at the Lawn Avenue School completed their Jamestown history reports as videos this spring. Using a collection of photographs – some from the JHS collection and others taken by the students themselves – and voice-overs, the students tell the history of Jamestown’s churches, schools, bridges, ferries, lighthouses and the Hurricane of 1938. One of the hurricane videos includes an exclusive interview with a survivor of that disaster.

This spring the teen center offered training in how to design and film a video. Six teams of young people wrote scripts, recruited actors, filmed the action, edited the resulting footage, and produced short video stories. Their subjects range from an action film about paintball warfare to a play with a moral about the treasures of Jamestown.

The videos, with a computer interface designed by Bob Saunders, can be seen on either of two computers in the museum at 92 Narragansett Ave. The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m. until Labor Day weekend, and then for the same hours on weekends until Columbus Day.

Eating out

July 4, 1907, diners at the Bay View Hotel could select caviar on toast, little necks or anchovies for their appetizer. The soups offered were Consommé Independence and Potage à la D’Artois. The dessert list began with Pudding à la Prosperity and included pies, cakes, fruits and cheeses.

The complete menu, as well as menus and advertisements from other Jamestown restaurants for the last 100 years, are on display in the JHS display case in the lobby of the Jamestown Philomenian Library.


Does relaxing on Windmill Hill surrounded by the beauty and history of Jamestown for three hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the autumn appeal to you? We are still recruiting “windmill watchers” for September and early October. Call or email JHS volunteer coordinator Tricia Frary at 423-1395 or tfrary@cox.net or send an email with your name and phone number to volunteers@jamestownhistoricalsociety.org.

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