HISTORY OF
NORTH KINGSTOWN


Kings Towne was incorporated in 1674, and included the vast area of Narragansett County. While it encompassed the present towns of North Kingstown and South Kingstown at that time,as well as today's Exeter and Narragansett,  it was not until 1722-23 that they were established as separate towns with North Kingstown being designated as the older town. Best known as Rhode Island’s sea town, North Kingstown’s contributions are as historically significant as they are unique.

Among its historic sites still standing are Smith’s Castle at Cocumscussoc, built in 1676, on the site of Richard Smith's 1640 trading post and used as a rendezvous point for troops who fought the Great Swamp Fight.  North Kingstown is also the birthplace of America’s foremost portrait artist; best known for his paintings of George Washington- Gilbert Stuart. The house and snuff mill where he was born is a wonderful place to visit. The ancient Rolling Rock and the timelessness of the Queen's Fort indicate the strong presence and tradition of the Narragansett Indians in our area and speak back to a day when what is now North Kingstown was the center of their world. Casey Farm is a 300 acre working farm overlooking Narragansett Bay which dates back to the mid 18th century when it served as a gentleman's farm for Newport based gentry. It operates today as one of the oldest working farms in New England. Its’ stone walls and beautiful view of the bay are one of the most photographed sites in our community.

Adding another dimension to our history is the Old Narragansett Church, built in 1707, the oldest Episcopal Church building in the northeastern United States. Legends allude to it being rolled to its present location in Wickford from a site several miles south in what was once called Shermantown, but the evidence points to its careful dismantling and reconstruction in the bustling village of Wickford in 1800. 

Wickford Village which contains an impressive collection of houses dating back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries is most likely the largest concentration of Colonial and Federal era houses in such a small area in the nation and was a regional center for sailing ship construction in the 18th and 19th centuries. John D. Rockefeller Jr. strolled its streets to get inspiration for Colonial Williamsburg and Henry Ford stopped by too and tried to purchase some of its signature structures, including the Old Narragansett Church, for relocation to his Michigan-based Colonial reproduction village. It truly is one of our gems!

Beautiful old mill buildings in the Lafayette village and at Shady Lea reflect another era in the rich history of our town. As mechanized cotton textile manufacturing took hold in the Pawtucket/Providence area, North Kingstown became one of the centers of woolen textile manufacturing. The beauty of these structures has been preserved for both commercial and residential use.

North Kingstown’s much loved villages, farms and shoreline changed significantly with the onset of World War II. In 1938 a point of land north of Wickford was identified as a favorable site for the construction of a base to resupply England during the lend/lease era of the late 1930's. The development of the Quonset Naval Air Station and the Davisville Construction Battalion Center in North Kingstown, authorized with the swoop of FDR's pen, changed the character of our town from an historic seaside village to a key naval station during World War II. “Quonset huts” were designed and built in town prior to shipment around the world. And North Kingstown will forever remain the home of the “Seabee” which was designed by a native Rhode Islander and now featured at the Seabee  museum at Quonset. Both facilities have subsequently been closed and given to the State of Rhode Island and North Kingstown where today you will find The Quonset Business Park which is one of the premiere business parks in New England. Managed by the Quonset Development Corporation, it is home to over 175 companies, employing more than 10,000 people in full-and part-time jobs across a variety of industries. The Port of Davisville at Quonset is one of the top ten auto importers in North America.

Most recently a 6 ton, 7 foot long rune stone which was found off Pojac Point in Narragansett Bay will be a tourist attraction in North Kingstown. It is has been linked to the Knights Templar, a medieval military order, as well as perhaps early Viking or Icelandic explorers to the New World. 


CALL: 401-295-5566

8045 Post Rd, North Kingstown, RI 02852

email: info@northkingstown.com


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All content (c) North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce 2014


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