As the Town of North Kingstown waits for a final outcome of a lawsuit that is stalling the use of the former Wickford Elementary School building, I can’t help but be attentive to the process and what will come of it. This building, more than a century old, is special to my clan.
I could not help but notice, as I drive down Ten Rod Road each day, that the lovely old Advent Street Church has recently received a new paint job, courtesy of its present owners, the McKay family. The McKay’s purchased the building; no let me rephrase that, they saved the building, more than two decades ago, when they purchased it and began to use it as warehouse space.
The sudden passing of my friend EJ Ryan last week has really got me thinking about Ryan’s Market and its place in the story of our community. EJ, who was named after his grandfather who ran the market in its heyday, was the last member of his family to run this fine establishment. He was a “bigger than life” sort of person and he missed by all who knew him.
The recent passing of retired firefighter N. Peter Magnant has got me to thinking about his father Napoleon Magnant and the time-honored volunteer position he held until his death in 1956. You see, Napoleon Magnant was North Kingstown’s last real pound keeper.
When I think of the words crypt keeper and gravedigger, all sorts of things naturally come to my mind. First and foremost of course is Halloween, trick-or- treating, and things that go bump in the night.
The home located at 401 Tower Hill Road in North Kingstown was constructed in 1892 by the Sherman Brothers of Wickford for Dr. Curtis Maryott and his wife Maria (Hawkins) on a portion of the Sam Phillips farm they had purchased in 1887. Sadly, a year after moving into the house Maria died of cancer.
Boy, I’ve got to say, the South County Museum situated at Canonchet Farm in nearby Narragansett, sure is something special. It’s location is just as special and most folks might think it’s been there forever. The truth though, is quite a bit different.
Assigning a construction date to the interesting little cape style home located at 264 West Main Street is difficult due to the condition of North Kingstown’s early real estate records, the property’s late 18th and early 19th century history as a small portion of a much larger Spink owned parcel, and the fact that it was extensively remodeled by 20th century owners.
This fine little home on Loop Drive has seen good news and sad news in recent weeks. The good news was that it, along with all of the rest of the houses on Loop Drive were just recognized by the RI Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission and designated as a brand-new historic district. The sad news was the recent passing of its owner Jackie Alarie. So this bittersweet moment got me to thinking about my friend Jackie and the house and Loop Drive in general, so lets take a look at the history of Jackie’s home.
After a six-year absence from public view, the North Kingstown Town Hall, which had served the community for 127 years prior to it being vacated, is open for business once again. It has tastefully been brought into the 21st century, with a well thought out restoration and an appropriate addition that just adds to the elegance of the building. My visit to the “Old Grande Dame” last week got me to thinking about how the building all began and what she looked like originally. So, let’s take a look at the story behind this building that we are all now going to be able to get reacquainted with.
John and Jane (Gerrish) Warburton were daring souls. Daring enough to take their clan of nine children and leave their home in Trowbridge, England, climb aboard a ship and sail to America and take a chance in this, the land of opportunity. The year was 1875 and we can only imagine what was going through the collective minds of the big family.
Back in the 1700s and 1800s, cider making was serious business. You see, apple cider, just like cheese, dried and smoked meats, dried beans and hard corn, preserves, sturdy root crops and the like, were, in an age long before refrigeration, the staples, the “vital vittles” that allowed families to make it through those long New England winters.
You probably never expect that the “village smithy’s” house is one of the best places in Wickford to pause and contemplate the vagaries of life expectancies in the late 17th and early 18th century world, but indeed it is.
You see, the story of Abraham Borden Rathbun and his four wives nicely illustrates how ones place in life’s journey had a major impact upon how long a person might expect to live.
No one who was alive in 1913 would dispute the fact that old Horace Hammond, who died in March of that year, had left an indelible mark upon the community. For certain, they’d all admit, numerous Hammond’s could lay claim to that statement; why, Hammonds have had an influence upon North Kingstown since the very beginning. But none of them had done it quite like Horace.
The sleepy hamlet of Perryville, one of the many villages that make up South Kingstown, is a place that time has seemingly forgotten. That’s a shame really, because the stories of the two most prominent members of the clan for whom this place is named, US Naval heroes, brave explorers, and brothers, Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew Calbraith Perry, ought to rank in the history books of our nation alongside folks like John Paul Jones, Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere.
Over the years that I have been studying on the history of our fair town, I’ve been blessed to have encountered quite a collection of artifacts that have silently spoken volumes about those that came before us. Old photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, and the like that have been conduits that carry me to times long past. I’ve seen numerous grand old homes, and they, along with all the things that were once in them, have taken me back to days only dimly remembered.
Wandering poorly prepared into a discussion about video games is ill-advised. Yet, people who don’t play video games commonly argue that long hours spent focused on digital playthings, especially by children, rot their brains. It is an uninformed point of view.
An old Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” But research suggests it would be wiser to think of good sleep as an ingredient of wellbeing — a starting point for health, not a fixer-upper.
Beware the “silent thief of sight”. Glaucoma sneaks up on people causing irreparable vision loss before diagnosis. Over three million North Americans have glaucoma — about half don’t know it. For society, the economic and social consequences of stolen sight is large. For sufferers, when glaucoma progresses to blindness, it is life-changing. But is a cure in sight?