Mackerel Cove Beach Pavilion
In 1927, construction of a beach pavilion, a town facility, began. The pavilion was designed by Ralph G. P. Hull (1885-1941), a local Jamestown building contractor. The 272-foot-long pavilion opened in July 1928. It was originally situated on the Sheffield Cove or...
A view looking southIn the halcyon days when Jamestown was a summer resort, visitors stayed in hotels and cottages for weeks at a time. One of the premier hotels was the Thorndike (sometimes spelled Thorndyke). It was located where BankNewport is now. In 1879, Mrs....
The Art of Old Fort Dumpling
For over 100 years Fort Dumpling stood at the southeast tip of the main part of Conanicut Island looming over 85’ granite outcroppings that dropped to the sea. Erected in 1798, Fort Dumpling was a massive elliptical stone tower measuring 180’ by 81’ and was built on a...
Historical Collection & Archives
Ferry Boats & Bridges
Getting to Conanicut Island is important to Jamestown. Ferryboats were in service for over 300 years. The first bridge to connect Jamestown was built across the West Passage in 1940. The Newport-Pell bridge across the East Passage in 1969. A large part of the collection is the history of the ferryboats and
effects of the bridges.
Jamestown Summer Resorts
The Resort Era began with the introduction of the steam ferries in 1873. Hundreds of visitors came each summer escaping the congested cities looking for accommodations in hotels, rental cottages, summer camps and boarding houses. Items in our collection include signs, menus, hotel account books, over 1000 photographs of the summer “cottages” and hotels.
Our collection of Jamestown postcards roughly span the years 1900 to present day. The importance of postcards cannot be under estimated as it gives us a wealth of knowledge about how our neighborhoods and town looked and may be in some cases, our only record.
Colonial records include the original signed pre-purchase agreement among the men who acquired the islands from the Narragansett, a bill for the building of the second Beavertail Lighthouse in 1755, several Quaker marriage contracts, and documents about the town’s preparations for the American Revolution.
Until the late 20th century, the military – sensitive to its strategic location in Narragansett Bay – maintained forts and other installations on the island. Flags, signs, and records of the use of local forts for detention of prisoners of war, as well as photographs of the military at the various installations, record the federal government’s influence.
Papers and periodicals in the local history collection at the Jamestown Philomenian Library are included in the catalog. Programs from events, records of student awards, and articles about real estate transaction and artistic endeavors give insight into the public life of the town.