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.
Just as golf was becoming popular in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century, Jamestown’s first golf course, a 9-hole Conanicut Golf Club was officially formed in 1895. Six holes were located south of Hamilton Avenue, mostly on the pastures of the Cottrell Farm north...
In 1827 the Philadelphia Horticultural Society hosted the first American flower show with the aim “to inspire taste for one of the most rational and pleasing amusements of man”. Flower shows have played important roles for most gardeners and Jamestown proved no...
This carriage vase belonged to Harry E. Shatzer, who after arriving in Jamestown in 1912, established a livery stable on Narragansett Avenue. Shatzer would attach the flower vase to his carriages for weddings and funerals. Harry Shatzer was born in 1879 in...