Jamestown Historical Society News
Saturday, May 18, is Battery Day at Jamestown’s Conanicut Battery Historic Park, as well as Armed Forces Day across the nation. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. when the Jamestown Community Band starts playing, and Cub Scout Pack 1, the American Legion Arnold Zweir Post 22, the Memorial Post 9447 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and re-enactors from around the state march into the battery field to the rousing music. The ceremonies celebrate the 1776 earthworks in the town park – one of the few Revolutionary War relics of this kind preserved around the state. “Major Blogett” – the traditional host for Battery Day, played by Paul Brunelle – will be in command of the activities.
The Cub Scouts and Capt. Tew’s 1st Company of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment will bivouac in the park overnight on May 17. They will be joined in the morning by the Artillery Company of Newport, whose cannon salute across the West Passage will mark the beginning of the ceremonies. Reenactors from His Majesty’s 54th Regiment of Foot, a British regiment that fought the Colonials during the American Revolution, and Captain Tew’s company will conduct a skirmish around the earthworks to demonstrate how battles were fought at the time.
Norman Desmarais, professor emeritus at Providence College, will give a short talk about the battery and the other Revolutionary War fortifications in Jamestown. Demarais is the author of “Battlegrounds of Freedom,” a fascinating travelogue through the battlefields and battles of the American Revolution. British, French and American flags – honoring the three nations that manned the fort at different times between 1776 and 1783 – will be raised, while the band plays each country’s national anthem.
The ceremonies will conclude with the singing of “America the Beautiful.”
Everyone is welcome. Come and enjoy the military pageantry and learn about the history of your island.
Jim Buttrick is curator of the upcoming summer exhibit at the Jamestown Museum. The display is called “Architectural Styles of Jamestown.” In the exhibit, he identifies and discusses the different architectural styles that dominated Jamestown homes in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. He uses both historic and current photographs to point out what makes each style unique. Pure historic styles are becoming less common on the island as a result of renovations to improve livability and lower maintenance costs, as well as ongoing demolition. The exhibit includes examples of architectural elements that help define a style, such as decorative posts, brackets and windows from recent renovations. Architectural records displayed include plans, bills and correspondence from the society’s collection.
A free booklet that captures and expands on the information in the exhibit will be available to visitors.
Buttrick has long been interested in architecture and travels extensively to see buildings of all eras and designs. In 2002, the historical society published his definitive monograph on Charles Lovatt Bevins, the Jamestown architect responsible for Horsehead and many other shingle style homes in Jamestown. The monograph was the basis for a photographic essay in Newport History in 2008. He is also the author of “Images of American: Jamestown,” a book of photographs – many of them from the Jamestown Historical Society collection – that celebrates the history of Jamestown.
The back room of the museum building remains the ferry room. Above the entry to the room is the pennant that was flown on the Governor Carr during its maiden voyage in 1927. Inside are models of ferries, photographs that date as far back as the 1880s, records from the Jamestown & Newport Ferry Company, and artifacts from the ferries themselves.
The museum will open on June 23. Buttrick will conduct a preview for docents on June 22. The first day to tour the windmill will be June 22. As usual, both sites will be open to the public free of charge from 1 to 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays through Columbus Day. The museum will also be open Wednesday through Friday for the same hours through Labor Day.
The windmill, meetinghouse and the museum can only be open if a volunteer from the society is there.
If you have served as a docent in the past, expect to receive a call sometime this month asking you to sign up again. If you have never been a volunteer, please call 423- 2674 or email volunteers@james townhistoricalsociety.org so we can add you to our list. Thank you.
Last month in my column I said that the society was looking for laptops to use in the vault. Within the week, Bill Leonard and Sheila Reilly each brought us a late model Toshiba laptop. In addition, Bill, who is a general computer consultant in town, fixed the keyboard on one of the laptops we already had. We are very grateful for their donations and for his help.