Little Compton Historical Society House Tour Returns

The popular event is back with access to nine unique properties

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Architecture lovers in the East Bay know the Historic House Tour organized by the Little Compton Historical Society is a can’t-miss event this fall. Featuring nine historic properties, the tour explores the town’s rich architectural heritage, building on decades of research by dedicated staff and volunteers.

The nine properties covered by the tour include the Kempton Clark House in Warren’s Point; Manton Property Archeological Dig on Mullin Hill Road; Samuel Church Mansion in Adamsville; Sea Bourne Mary House just south of Commons Road; and the Friends Meeting House, Mill House, Brownell Farm, Wunnegin, and Wilbor House Museum, all on West Main Road. A separate ticket allows visitors to attend a lavish brunch at Dancing Oaks in Pequahonk, a historic Little Compton horse farm featuring buildings dating back to the 1600s. Several of these properties are rarely open to the public, so the tour is a chance to see inside these pieces of Rhode Island history.

One notable property to visit during the tour is painter Sydney Burleigh’s studio Peggoty, built on top of an abandoned catboat ferry salvaged by the artist – its keel sunk into dry land on the Burleigh family property. (If Burleigh’s name rings a bell, you might know him as one of the designers of the eye-catching half-timbered Fleur de Lys Studio on Thomas Street in Providence.) The unusual boat-bottomed studio with its thatched roof has been a part of the Little Compton Historical Society’s collection since 1962 and can be found on the grounds of the Wilbor
House Museum.

Historical Society executive director Marjory O’Toole hopes guests will appreciate the details that make these properties so special: a panoramic view of Warren’s Point from the cupola at Kempton House, an old windmill framing structure visible inside the Mill House, and the cryptic marks scratched into wood surrounding the fireplace at Sea Bourne Mary, intended to prevent a witch from entering via the chimney. Visitors can also enjoy the Historical Society’s two long-term exhibitions, “Everyone Was a Farmer,” which explores agricultural history in the area, and “Terra Nova, Vita Nova,” covering the Portuguese community in Little Compton.

Augmenting the tour is the release of a new book by the Historical Society, The Stories Houses Tell: A Second Collection of Little Compton House Histories. The book is the result of intensive research undertaken by volunteers and staff into the Historical Society’s properties, yielding previously overlooked stories and intriguing historical tidbits about the inhabitants and worshipers. Visitors seeking more information about these extraordinary properties should consider attending the lecture “How to ‘Read’ a Historic Building,” given by Clark Schoettle, historic preservationist and executive director of the Providence Revolving Fund. The talk will be held at the Little Compton Community Center on September 1, and will also be live-streamed via Zoom.

See LittleCompton.org/events for more information.

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