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Jamestown, Rhode Island

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Jamestown is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island in the United States The population was 5,405 at the 2010 census Jamestown is situated almost entirely on Conanicut Island, the second largest island in Narragansett Bay It also includes the uninhabited Dutch Island and Gould Island Jamestown is ranked as the 444th wealthiest place to live in the United States as of 2016, with a median home sale price of $1,229,0393


  • 1 Geography
  • 2 History
    • 21 The American Revolution
    • 22 18th and 19th centuries
    • 23 20th century to the present
  • 3 Demographics
  • 4 In popular culture
  • 5 Notable people
  • 6 National Historic Places and notable sites in Jamestown
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


The Newport Bridge connects Jamestown with Newport, a city on Aquidneck Island

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has an area of 353 square miles 91 km2, of which 97 square miles 25 km2 is land and 256 square miles 66 km2 is water The total area is 7255% water

Rhode Island Route 138 is the only state highway in Jamestown, connecting the town and island to North Kingstown to the west over the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge and Newport to the east over the Newport Bridge


In 1524, Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano and his crew visited Narragansett Bay Dutch Island was used by fur traders in 1636 or 1637, and English colonists made arrangements to use Conanicut Island for grazing sheep in 1638

The original Jamestown Bridge, which connected Jamestown with North Kingstown, Rhode Island from 1940 until its demolition in 2006

Ferries were in operation between Conanicut Island and Newport by 1675 In 1678, Conanicut Island was incorporated as the town of Jamestown, when there were about 150 residents It was named for James, Duke of York, who became King James II in 16854

By 1710, many of Conanicut Island's current roads were in place In 1728, the town of Jamestown built a windmill for grinding corn, which used the sea breeze for power since there was no source of running water to turn a waterwheel

The American Revolutionedit

Two hundred British and Hessian troops landed at East Ferry on Conanicut Island on December 10, 1775; they then marched to West Ferry where they burned the ferry house As they returned to East Ferry, they destroyed many buildings, including 14 homes, which caused more than 200 of Conanicut Island's 556 residents to flee to the mainland

In December 1776, a British fleet arrived in Narragansett Bay and occupied Newport The British took over the colonial militia batteries at Fort Dumpling now part of Fort Wetherill and the Conanicut Battery at Beavertail, just south of Fort Getty at the end of Battery Lane They left Narragansett Bay in October 1779; as they departed, they destroyed the fortifications which they had occupied and burned down the Beavertail Lighthouse

18th and 19th centuriesedit

Beavertail Light was back in operation by 1784, and Jamestown rebuilt the Jamestown Windmill and Quaker Meetinghouse in 1787 that had been destroyed during the occupation

Jamestown Windmill built in 1787

In 1800, Fort Dumpling was established on the site of previous fortifications overlooking East Passage A tall stone tower atop the highest cliff could hold eight guns

The town of Jamestown commissioned a steam-powered ferryboat in 1872 and initiated service between Jamestown and Newport in May 1873 The availability of reliable and comfortable ferry service to and from Newport had a significant impact on agricultural Conanicut Island, and Jamestown became a destination for both day trips and summer vacations

The 1880s and 1890s saw a construction boom, with hotels, private summer homes, and municipal buildings going up The island's population tripled between 1870 and 1900

20th century to the presentedit

There was a burst of military fortification activity from 1890 to the end of World War I The Spanish–American War was a catalyst, beginning in 1898, and work began on Dutch Island's Fort Grebel The War Department bought 31 acres 130,000 m2 for Fort Getty, and fortifications were quickly erected Summer homes were condemned near Fort Dumpling to establish Fort Wetherill More land was acquired at Prospect Hill near the Conanicut Battery site for an observation and fire control station, and the government established a torpedo station and test facility on Gould Island Then, at the end of the First World War, the Conanicut Island fortifications fell into disuse World War II brought establishment or reactivation of military bases around Narragansett Bay, including Forts Getty, Burnside, and Wetherill on Conanicut Island, Fort Greble on Dutch Island, a torpedo factory on Goat Island, and a torpedo station on Gould Island

The Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge, constructed in 1992, connects Jamestown with mainland Rhode Island

Jamestown was a bustling summer destination in the early 1900s, and it had nine hotels in 1903 The golden age of large resort hotels was brief, however, in Jamestown and elsewhere, and patronage rapidly declined in the 1920s The Thorndike Hotel was demolished in 1938 The Gardner House was one of the larger hotels, but it was taken down in 1941 after being idle for several years, and a USO building was built on its site After the war, the town purchased the building and it is now known as the community center It was extensively landscaped and remodeled in 2002 The Bay View Hotel closed in the 1960s, the last of the very large hotels The building was demolished in 1985, and the Bay View Condominiums opened for occupancy four years later The building exterior was designed to resemble the hotel The Bay Voyage Hotel is the only survivor of the many hotels that once lined Jamestown's eastern harbor, now operating as a time share resort

In 1938, a major hurricane caused much property damage and the loss of more than 300 lives in the Narragansett Bay region It swept away much of the sand from the Mackerel Cove beach, destroyed its popular beach pavilion, and destroyed the West Ferry docks—which actually speeded approvals for a bridge to Saunderstown The first Jamestown Bridge opened in the summer of 1940, replacing West Ferry service with a continuously available link to the west

In 1969, the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge was completed, establishing Route 138 as a continuous highway from South County to Newport With its completion, traditional ferry service was eliminated The bridge is pictured on the Rhode Island commemorative quarters In 1992, the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge replaced the narrow steel bridge erected in 1940 It was accompanied by construction of a new western-end access road and a cross-Conanicut Island highway

Demolition of the original Jamestown Bridge in 2006


Historical population
1790 507
1800 501 −12%
1810 504 06%
1820 448 −111%
1830 415 −74%
1840 365 −120%
1850 358 −19%
1860 400 117%
1870 378 −55%
1880 459 214%
1890 707 540%
1900 1,091 543%
1910 1,175 77%
1920 1,633 390%
1930 1,599 −21%
1940 1,744 91%
1950 2,068 186%
1960 2,267 96%
1970 2,911 284%
1980 4,040 388%
1990 4,999 237%
2000 5,622 125%
2010 5,405 −39%
Est 2015 5,482 14%
US Decennial Census67

As of the census1 of 2000, there are 5,622 people, 2,359 households, and 1,625 families residing in the town The population density is 5800 people per square mile 2240/km² There are 2,769 housing units at an average density of 2857 per square mile 1103/km² The racial makeup of the town is 9755% White, 078% African American, 021% Native American, 039% Asian, 000% Pacific Islander, 023% from other races, and 084% from two or more races 089% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race

There are 2,359 households out of which 283% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 585% are married couples living together, 80% have a female householder with no husband present, and 311% are non-families 259% of all households are made up of individuals and 99% have someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size is 238 and the average family size is 288

In the town, the population is spread out with 220% under the age of 18, 43% from 18 to 24, 254% from 25 to 44, 335% from 45 to 64, and 147% who are 65 years of age or older The median age is 44 years For every 100 females, there are 946 males, and for every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 916 males

The median income for a household in the town is $87,073, and the median income for a family is $117,990 Males have a median income of $50,185 versus $35,056 for females The per capita income for the town is $58,664 29% of the population and 17% of families are below the poverty line 14% of those under the age of 18 and 31% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line

Jamestown Public Schools encompasses two buildings: Melrose School for elementary students and Lawn School for middle school students For high school, public school students matriculate to either North Kingstown High School or Narragansett High School8

In popular cultureedit

Portions of the films Wind, Me, Myself and Irene, American General, Evening, Dan in Real Life, Moonrise Kingdom, and Irrational Man were filmed in Jamestown, as well as in various nearby locations

Notable peopleedit

  • Governor Benedict Arnold purchased land in Jamestown 1657, great-grandfather of the notorious turncoat Benedict Arnold
  • Brenda Bennett, musician and former member of Vanity 6, currently resides in Jamestown9
  • Architect Charles L Bevins 1844–1925 lived in Jamestown
  • John Biddle yachting cinematographer spent his childhood summers here and later moved back to the island, living there until his death10
  • Bacteriologist Eleanor Albert Bliss was born in Jamestown
  • Caleb Carr governor lived in Jamestown and was buried on the island
  • Dwight Dickinson, former United States Ambassador to Togo, lived here
  • Joseph C Harsch, journalist for Christian Science Monitor and ABC News, died in Jamestown
  • Paul Housberg lives here, a glass artist recognized for his use of fused and kiln formed glass as an architectural medium
  • Luke McNamee, four-star admiral and Governor of Guam, lived in Jamestown11
  • John Mecray, marine painter and co-founder of the Museum of Yachting, lived in Jamestown 12
  • Jonathan M Nelson, founder of Providence Equity Partners, built a home in Jamestown in 2009
  • Peter F Neronha, former United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, was born, raised, and currently resides in Jamestown
  • Frank Newman, president of the University of Rhode Island 1974-83, died in Jamestown
  • Landscape artist William Trost Richards lived and worked on the island from 1881 till death in 1905
  • Marla Romash, political consultant and pastry chef, currently resides in Jamestown13
  • Bruce Sundlun, 71st Governor of Rhode Island, died in Jamestown
  • James Alexander Williamson, Civil War brigadier general, died in Jamestown

National Historic Places and notable sites in Jamestownedit

Dutch Island Light
  • Artillery Park
  • Beavertail Light
  • Thomas Carr Farmstead Site Keeler Site RI-707
  • Conanicut Battery
  • Conanicut Island Lighthouse
  • Dutch Island Lighthouse
  • Fort Dumpling Site
  • Friends Meetinghouse Jamestown, Rhode Island
  • Hazard Farmstead Joyner Site RI-706
  • Horsehead-Marbella
  • Jamestown Archeological District
  • Jamestown Windmill
  • Old Friends Archeological Site
  • Watson Farm
  • Windmill Hill Historic District


  • Rhode Island portal
  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder" United States Census Bureau Retrieved 2008-01-31 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names" United States Geological Survey 2007-10-25 Retrieved 2008-01-31 
  3. ^ https://wwwforbescom/sites/samanthasharf/2016/12/08/full-list-americas-most-expensive-zip-codes-2016/18/#4df2b5d667e7  Missing or empty |title= help
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry 1905 The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States Govt Print Off p 168 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" Archived from the original on June 2, 2016 Retrieved July 2, 2016 
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing" Censusgov Archived from the original on May 12, 2015 Retrieved June 4, 2016 
  7. ^ Snow, Edwin M 1867 Report upon the Census of Rhode Island 1865 Providence, RI: Providence Press Company 
  8. ^ Gibbs, Ryan "Back to school: 491 children settle in class | wwwjamestownpresscom | Jamestown Press" The Jamestown Press Retrieved 4 September 2016 
  9. ^ Shane, Ken "Former Vanity 6 singer inducted into RI Music Hall of Fame" The Jamestown Press Retrieved 23 April 2016 
  10. ^ "John Scott Biddle, 83 | wwwjamestownpresscom | Jamestown Press" The Jamestown Press Retrieved 15 July 2017 
  11. ^ "M'Namee Retired; In Navy 40 Years" The New York Times New York City The New York Times Company 10 May 1934 p 10  |access-date= requires |url= help
  12. ^ Jamestown, Press 2007-10-25, Mecray honored for yacht preservation efforts, retrieved 2009-06-02 
  13. ^ Gibbs, Ryan "Romash moves from politics to pastry | wwwjamestownpresscom | Jamestown Press" The Jamestown Press Retrieved 29 June 2017 

External linksedit

  • Jamestown Municipal Site
  • Town of Jamestown Official GIS Maps and Property Information
  • Connanicut Island Community Website
  • Jamestown Visitor Information
  • Jamestown Schools
  • Jamestown Philomenian Library
  • Jamestown RI 02835
  • Jamestown Geological History

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Jamestown, Rhode Island

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