ANNUAL MEETING — Wednesday, August 14 — 7 PM — United Congregational Church — Free & Open to the Public

The Little Compton Historical Society will hold their annual meeting on Wednesday, August 14 at 7 pm at the United Congregational Church on the Commons. The event is free and open to the public.

After a 15-minute business meeting and the election of officers and board members, Professor Christopher Pastore, Associate Professor of History at the University at Albany, State University of New York, will discuss his new book, “Between Land and Sea” and the many ways European settlement has transformed Narragansett Bay since the 1600s. As one of the largest estuaries on the North Atlantic coast, Narragansett Bay served as a gateway for colonial expansion in the seventeenth century and the birthplace of American industrialization in the late eighteenth. Professor Pastore will present an environmental history of this watery corner of the Atlantic world, beginning with the first European settlement in 1636 and ending with the dissolution of the Blackstone Canal Company in 1849. Between Land and Sea traces how the Bay’s complex ecology shaped the contours of European habitation, trade, and resource use, and how settlers in turn reconfigured the physical and cultural boundaries between humans and nature.

Narragansett Bay emerges in Pastore’s account as much more than a geological formation. Rather, he reimagines the meeting of land and sea as a brackish borderland shaped by the tension between what English settlers saw as improvable land and the perpetual forces of the North Atlantic Ocean. By draining swamps, damming rivers, and digging canals, settlers transformed a marshy coastal margin into a clearly defined edge. The resultant “coastline” proved less resilient, less able to absorb the blows of human initiative and natural variation than the soggy fractal of water and earth it replaced.

Today, as sea levels rise and superstorms batter coasts with increasing ferocity, Professor Pastore’s Between Land and Sea calls on the environmentally-minded to make a space in their notions of progress for impermanence and uncertainty in the natural world.

A social hour following the talk will offer refreshments and the opportunity to purchase signed copies of “Between Land and Sea” as well as copies of the Historical Society’s new book “Little Compton a Changing Landscape.”

Rhode Island native, Christopher L. Pastore teaches courses in environmental history, early America, and the Atlantic world. He holds a Ph.D. in American History and M.S. in college teaching from the University of New Hampshire, a B.A. in Biology from Bowdoin College, and M.F.A. in nonfiction Creative Writing from New School University, where he has taught writing composition since 2003. He is also currently a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute at Trinity College Dublin, where he is combing through the archive for sources about salty environments.

            Pastore grew up sailing, fishing and exploring Narragansett Bay. His journalistic work has appeared in the New York Times, Boat International, Cruising World, Newport Life, Offshore, Restoration Quarterly, Real Simple, and Sailing World, where he worked as Associate Editor. He also served as Editor of American Sailor and Junior Sailor, the official publications of U.S. Sailing, the sport’s national governing body. In 2005, he published a biography of Rhode Island yacht designer Nathanael G. Herreshoff (1848-1938) titled Temple to the Wind: The Story of America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Masterpiece, Reliance (Lyons Press), early selections from which earned him the 2003 National Arts Club Annual Award for Nonfiction.

For more information please call the Historical Society at 401-635-4035. 

Little Compton Antiques Festival and Classic Car Show

The Little Compton Historical Society is proud to partner with Preserve Rhode Island and Brian Ferguson Antiques to present the Little Compton Antiques Festival on the grounds of the Wilbor House Museum and to host a Classic Car Show featuring approximately 50 vehicles. Proceeds from the festival will benefit both the Little Compton Historical Society and Preserve Rhode Island.

Friday, August 2

Antiques Festival Preview Party 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Tickets $50

Saturday, August 3

Antiques Festival 10:00 – 4:00 PM
Classic Car Show 11:00-3:00
Admission $12 includes Antiques Festival & Special Exhibit

Talk with the Animals!

The owl tells stories of Little Compton, too.

Explore the Collections Barn with some animals that lived in Little Compton. 

The artifacts in the Collections Barn offer insight into the agricultural history of Little Compton. There’s an ox cart, carriages, plows, fishing equipment, even a cow vomit rope. Who better to give tours of these things than the animals who knew them well. Use your cell phone to call (401) 214-6926 and choose tours from a cow, a dog, a horse, a fish, and an owl. And the mouse who curates it all. Get the animal-eye view of Little Compton history. 

Best done at the barn, so you can see the things the animals remember. But you can call from home. Or take a look at the tour brochures

With thanks to the students in the Brown University public humanities program that created these. 

Sakonnet Point Then and Now – Landscape Walk – July 26

Landscape Walk – Sakonnet Point Then & Now 
Friday, July 26
8:30 AM
Meet at the DEM Board Ramp
Park on Bluff Head Avenue or the Town Dock
John Berg of The Nature Conservancy will lead a one-hour landscape walk of Sakonnet Point with Marjory O’Toole of the Little Compton Historical Society.
Free and Open to the Public
Limited to 25 participants
Registration required at 401-635-4035

Gravestone Cleaning Workshop – July 24

Wednesday, July 24 ( AM to Noon) 
The Old Burying Ground on the Commons

Learn to clean historic gravestones safely using materials and methods approved by the Association for Gravestone Studies. Help remove harmful lichens from the gravestones on the Commons and preserve these important historic objects for the next generation to learn from and enjoy.

Once you have attended a workshop you are welcome to join us on any other cleaning day or to borrow a cleaning kit to work at your own pace.

Additional cleaning days:

Aug. 15 5 to 7 pm
Aug. 22 9 am to Noon
Sept. 11 9 am to Noon

Slavery & the Making of Early American Libraries – July 23


Sean Moore, Ph.D.

Slavery and the Making of the American Library

Tuesday, July 23 7 PM

Little Compton Community Center

The Commons

Free & Open to the Public

Hear Professor Sean Moore speak about his extensive research into the many connections between slavery, philanthropy, and the founding of American libraries in his talk entitled “Slavery and the Making of the American LibraryEarly American Libraries: Bristish Literature, Political Thought, and the Transatlantic Book Trade, 1731 – 1814.”

Slavery and the Making of Early American Libraries explores how libraries in colonial America stood at the nexus of two transatlantic trades: the book trade and the slave trade. Books were hand-made by craftsmen in this period and were therefore very expensive, meaning that those Americans made wealthy by slavery and related enterprises like sugar, rum, and shipbuilding were some of the few who could afford books imported from England. They pooled their money in founding pre-public “proprietary subscription libraries” where one would have to buy a share in a library in order to borrow a book, and those shares were so expensive that clergy and other good people could not afford them and could only be made “honorary members.” Much of Dr. Moore’s research focuses on the Redwood Library and Athenaeum of Newport.

Following the talk Dr. Moore will be signing copies of his new book by the same title. Sean Moore is an Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire and an award-winning author. He has family ties to Little Compton and is a frequent visitor here. This event is co-sponsored by the Little Compton Historical Society and the Brownell Library. It is free and open to the public. No reservations required. Doors open at 6:30. There will be a free-will donation jar at the door.