201119ind history

Though it may blend in with its surroundings now, this small home at 772 Fletcher Road in North Kingstown was once the well-known home of the Baptist Meeting House, serving an up-and-coming congregation for 12 years after it was built in 1830.

Driving by the little end-gabled one-story house at 772 Fletcher Road, you’d never imagine what an important part the little cottage played in the history of the area. There’s nothing particularly fancy about it. Its Greek Revival doorway with attached sidelights might seem a tad out of place, but not enough to make anyone stop and take notice. If you were to take out a map of North Kingstown and note its location, you’d see it sits dead center in the middle of what was once the farming community of Quidnessett. That’s not an accident; this little building was sited there for a very particular reason. For when it was constructed in 1830 it was not a private home; it was built to be a Baptist Meeting House. Known as the Union Baptist Church, as well as the First Baptist Church of Quidnessett Neck, it served its fledgling congregation for twelve years, until its more famous (and much larger) replacement, the Quidnessett Baptist Church on Post Road, was constructed.

The congregation that used the little meeting house had officially been split off from the Allenton Baptist Church just two years earlier in 1828. Brother Joseph Allen was put in charge of the group by the patriarch of the Baptist community in southern Rhode Island, Elder William Northup, and for its first two years they met in Elder Allen’s or James Allen’s barn. A year or so later another Allen, Deacon George, donated a centrally-located piece of land and construction of the meeting house began. It was finished early in 1830 for a total cost of $450. A closer look reveals that the style of the building is remarkably similar to its country cousins, the Stony Lane Six Principle Baptist Church on Stony Lane and the Slocumville Baptist Church on Railroad Avenue in Slocum. The congregation of the Quidnessett Neck Church would often attend communion services with their brethren back in Allenton. Elder Joseph Allen and Deacon George Allen often baptized members in the mill ponds of Davisville, Potowomut, and Sand Hill villages. As the congregation grew and its population center shifted westerly in a direction that included the community of Davisville, it became clear that a larger church centered between Quidnessett and Davisville, rather than North Quidnessett and South Quidnessett, was required. The donation of a parcel of land on Post Road to the congregation by Samuel Austin was key to the future of the little meeting house on Fletcher Rod. Outgrown by her congregation, she has spent the last 178 years as an unassuming little cottage on a quite country lane. A story just waiting to be told.

The author is the North Kingstown town historian. The views expressed here are his own.

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