It Takes a Village

IMG_2205I love living in a small town. Familiar faces are always around the corner, in the supermarket, the restaurants, the hardware store, the pharmacy. I enjoy stopping to have a conversation with a friend I just happen to meet while doing errands. Years ago, while I was studying  at the University, I decided this was where I wanted to make my future home. After college, I bought my first home here and have been comfortably settled in South County for over forty years.

On Saturday I spent the day with friends celebrating our annual Kingston Hill Fair. Kingston Village, once known as Little Rest, is composed of  charming buildings and  red brick walks leading to the entrance of the University of Rhode Island. Although this picturesque village is quite small, it’s filled with history.

In 1820, Fayerweather House was the home of the village blacksmith, George Fayerweather. He was a descendant of  a slave who gained his freedom from the Reverend Samuel Fayerweather in 1770. He adopted his master’s surname, Fayerweather as was customary at the time. Some of the  stones used for the base of the forge  can still be found on the one-acre property.

Authentically renovated and restored, the old homestead is now maintained by the Kingston Improvement Association and is the home of the Fayerweather Craft Guild. The Guild is dedicated to preserving old crafts and promoting new ones. The original three rooms on the first floor are now used to display those crafts. Workshops and programs are sponsored by the group throughout the summer and fall.

Fayerweather House
Fayerweather House

Fayerweather House’s two stories were constructed around a massive stone chimney with a fireplace in each room. I spent most of my Saturday morning in the Keeping Room with its granite fireplace, Dutch oven, and 18-inch wide floorboards. Along with a pictorial display documenting the history of this building, there is a large Bicentennial Quilt sewn in 1976 by the founding members of the Craft Guild. Its thirty colorful panels of local landmarks hang proudly on the west wall among works by present-day  crafters which are available for purchase. As crafters, we volunteer time in the store and this morning, on one of our busiest days, found me behind the counter taking care of regular visitors and the  new faces in town for the weekend’s college graduation ceremonies.

Inside, customers browsed while out on the back patio, johnny cakes (once known as journey cakes) from the local Kenyon Grist Mill were sizzling on a grill as people sat along the stone wall relaxing and enjoying the cakes with a cup of coffee. In the side yard, the Kingston Hill Gardeners were selling plants dug from their own gardens to raise money for scholarships. All of this taking place on the park-like grounds that they lovingly maintain throughout the seasons.

Volunteers all –  happily working and socializing on a fine May Day while down the road, on the front lawn of the Kingston Free Library (once the County Seat) another set of volunteers ran the  used book sale.  And across the street, at the Kingston Congregational Church, tables were set up with baked goods and hot dogs and hamburgers for strollers to take some time for lunch or a home-baked slice of cake or pie and sit conversing  along the stone wall or under a tent in the church courtyard.

The old town jail, now the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society,  was open for tours as was Helme House where a pottery sale was attracting  people in to view the works of local artists and the  Kingston Hill Book Store was filled with browsers looking for collectible books and antiques.

One of the most famous buildings in town is the Elisha Reynolds House (1738) now home of the Tavern Hall Preservation Society (1911). ) On March 5, 1781, Colonel Thomas Potter hosted George Washington and his officers when they stopped to rest on their way to confer with General Rochambeau in Newport.

I was so busy working at Fayerweather House that I never had time to shoot some photos on Saturday. But these pictures, taken for my local mystery book Last Train to Kingston, will give you some idea of what our tiny village looks like on a typical Sunday morning, without all of the bustle a Fair Day can bring. If you are ever in Rhode Island, put aside some time to walk along the village’s brick sidewalks and note the historical plaques on each building. Stop into Fayerweather House, the library, the jail house, the bookstore, Helme House and the church. There’s  an incredible store of history packed into a very small village once called Little Rest.

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72 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

    1. Hello, Robyn. I was actually going to do a post on my very slow-to-bloom garden, but ended up writing about my Saturday. I will do a piece on my garden soon. Yours must be starting to go to sleep about now. I’ll visit with you some time today. Have a marvelous week. Clare

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  1. What a simply superb place you live, Clare! The history is fascinating. I think it’s terrific that you all volunteer your time, and in that way you’re keeping the history alive. Fantastic effort. Thank you for the interesting read! 🙂

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    1. Yvette, There a many opportunities to volunteer here. I belong to the Congregational Church, the Master Gardeners, Fayerweather House and have helped with the library sales, so there is always something to do. We do not, however, have a Toastmasters Group. I hope you are doing well with your next speech and look forward to hearing the details. Clare

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    1. Thank you , Mary. Rhode Island is the smallest state and I think South County is the nicest part of it. Although the University and surrounding area have grown quite a bit in my forty years here, Kingston has still kept its charm. Wishing you a pleasant week in the Scottish hills. Clare

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  2. Your hometown looks perfectly exquisite, Clare, and I rather regret never having travelled through your region of the U.S. That was rather remiss of me, in retrospect, as I had plenty of opportunity to venture North of New York in my trips there, though never once did.

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    1. Another great thing about where I live is that it’s only an hour and a half from Boston and a little over two hours from New York. The train station is but a few minutes from my house. We can venture out for a bit of culture and then come back to Kingston and burrow in. Of course if you ever do get another opportunity, you are welcome to visit us. We could have some marvelous conversations1 (And no…! I promise!)

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      1. That sounds perfect, Clare, and I had a similar arrangement myself, in that for much of my life I lived just an hour or so to the West of London, so had the best of both worlds. I finally gave up on London once I retired from my businesses, firstly withdrawing further Westwards to Oxford (still plenty of culture), and then down to Cornwall (zero culture). Your offer is exceptionally kind, though my trips across the pond, which are these days few and far between, tend to be to Vancouver/BC where I have relations. But of course, were I to come visit you, then those very real conversations would be littered with ellipses, and quite delightful ones too; I’ve no doubt. 🙂

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      2. After I read Cider With Rosie I wanted nothing more than to live in the Cotswolds. I traveled there to go in search of Sheepscombe. It took hours of driving in circles to find a 1-way dirt road into the center of town. We came upon a herd of sheep and had to wait while they pressed around the car to get by. We found the town (Town being the pub, the church and the post office.) but it appeared no one was anywhere to be found. I intend to return one day soon. I’m sure Oxford and Bath are much changed from my time there in the early 70’s.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous little town. You painted such a beautiful picture, that I just want to move there. Won’t happen but a girl can dream….

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  4. Its a real view into life where you are. Thank you. What I love is that in some way ( and forgive me for saying this) but it is so British! In fact many places have now become more English than England. New England of course is one, along with New Zealand. So I thought your town looked gentle and tranquil and reminded me of how England used to be…..sadly we are now the transit hub for the world

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    1. I’ve spent some time in England and loved every minute of it. I look forward to visiting again soon. The Cotswolds always draw me back and I want to spend time on the Cornish Coast. New England does have some lovely little towns. Kingston is composed of actually only two sides of a street. It’s midway between New York and Boston which are hubs unto themselves and although I do visit the big cities, my temperament is more suited to a slower style of life. i fit in here very well.

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  5. What gorgeous historic homes, and buildings! My favorite is the Painted Lady! (That’s what we call ’em, anyway.)
    Small hometowns are the best! I love going grocery shopping in Plant City, and seeing at least 2 cousins, and an odd aunt or two!
    You are so blessed to live in this beautiful, serene village!!
    Hugs to Roxie, please! And special Lucy hugs to you!

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    1. I decided in my younger years that I wanted to find a quiet place to live my life. Although the area has grown in leaps and bounds since I was at the University, it is still quieter than most places I’ve been. I think I’ll do more posts about some of the interesting places here in southern RI. I know I love it when other bloggers write about where they live.

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  6. Oh, Clare, I love Kingston! New England’s villages have such charm, and I really enjoyed the tour of your lovely town. Makes me want to do a tour of Edenton for my blog. It also has that historic old feel, wonderful restored houses, delightful bed and breakfasts, a river lighthouse, an Arts Guild, and loads of historic markers denoting all our history. You really should post some more of Kingston so we all feel like we know it when we read your mystery and can travel in it more easily. Can’t wait! Jo

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    1. I think I’ll do the Kinney Azalea Gardens next. I would really love to know more about Edenton. I enjoy it when bloggers post photos and do pieces about where they’re living. It’s what gave me the idea to do some local travel posts.There are some other towns in Connecticut I would really like to feature. I tend not to get very heavy on the history -just a link or two – and try to capture the place with a photo collage.Thanks, Jo.

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    1. Andy, It’s really quiet once the students have left for the summer – and always on weekends. I have to get over to your blog to see what’s going on with you. I thought you’d be on the road? I’ll be right over. Clare

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    1. I don’t live right in the little town but more outside in the woods across from a wild-life sanctuary. I worked in city schools most of my life, so going home to the woods was a respite each day, even though it entailed an hour’s drive.There is a comfort now-a-days to know your neighbors. It’s not really something we see in the cities any more here in the US.

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  7. Your village looks like a wonderful place to live, Clare – my kind of place completely. It’s so full of interesting history, and proudly cared for by the residents. Your photos are lovely and show many different aspects of the village. Great post!

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    1. All of the posts by bloggers like you, who take me to their own wonderful villages and towns, inspired me to write this. I loved the information on the Cornish people in your last post. If I never get there, at least I’ve experienced it through your eyes. Thanks, Millie.

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  8. This a village I am jealous of
    Given a Chance I would prefer to stay
    How beautifully you have kept things
    Now I am jealous of You too
    Should I say that
    Before you say something
    I run from here
    As I am scared
    OMG!
    Fond Regards, Maam!
    Shiva

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      1. I shall never for the, Love
        I am receiving from your, End
        Let it be very clear, Clare!
        Enjoying conversations is, Rare
        Once upon a time, Comes
        To be Glad, Why
        I should run, Anyway
        Your village brought me, Here
        Is this not Global village, True
        I am Happy so are, You
        Clare!!!
        Shiva

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      2. Yes, we are a global village and isn’t that wonderful! So much to learn and enjoy among the inhabitants of our own global village. An education and a celebration rolled in together – so many styles, so many personalities, so many different voices. It is quite exhilarating!

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