Conanicut Friends Meeting
The Conanicut Friends Meeting was established by the Newport Quaker Monthly Meeting in 1684. The original meetinghouse was considerably north of the present meetinghouse, which lies 100 yards south of the windmill on Windmill Hill. The current meetinghouse is a simple rectangular building, built at the same time as the windmill in 1787 and shingled in a manner similar to the larger structure.
At the begining of the 19th century, the Quaker community in Jamestown became too small to sustain the meeting and the building fell into disuse. When the Meetinghouse was reopened in the early 1900’s for summering Philadelphia Quakers, it was afforded an “indulged” status to offer worship and Quaker services without the responsibilities of committee work (Finance, Ministry and Council, etc) that is expected in year-round Religious Society of Friends’ Meetings.
The size of our Meeting has waxed and waned over the years, but the Jamestown Quaker community hopes to keep the Meetinghouse and the spirit of Quakerism in silent worship in that simple place as a part of the life of the island, as well as in its history.
Preservation as an Historic Building
The meetinghouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, and in 1976-1977, with matching funds from the Rhode Island Preservation Society, the Conanicut Meeting repaired the building. Further restoration was completed in 1997 with a grant from the Champlin Foundations. In September that year, title to the meetinghouse was transferred to the Jamestown Historical Society, with the provision that the meetinghouse would be open to the Conanicut Meeting for worship during the summers.
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) holds Sunday worship services weekly in the summer months at 10:30 am. In 2020, services will be held as allowed by COVID-19 directives.
The public is always welcomed to attend and the building can be opened with advance request to the Jamestown Historical Society.
Feel free to walk the grounds unless a meeting for worship is in session.
Browse through time
The Monthly Meeting in Newport agrees that a new Quaker meetinghouse is needed since the old one has been destroyed during the British occupation. The Conanicut Friends promise to raise the money for material and to do the labor themselves. The building is built the following year.
Philadelphia Quakers Revive the Conanicut Meeting
Quaker membership drops sharply in the 19th century. Early in the new century, Philadelphia Quakers who come to Jamestown for the summer reopen the meetinghouse. It is open for Sunday worship every summer since.
Meetinghouse Placed on the National Register of Historic Places
JHS Takes Responsibility for the Historic Building
Title to the meetinghouse is transferred to the Jamestown Historical Society. The society agrees that the meetinghouse will be open to the Conanicut Meeting for worship.