slides: James Clayton Sattel’s RI Summer: Aquidneck’s Windmills
Saturday, August 18, 2012
This week, Jim turns his lens to the always-surprising silhouettes of windmills on Aquidneck Island.
To see more of or purchase Sattel's distinctive views, go here.
Windmill Hill II
The 30-foot-high windmill was built to grind corn after the British occupational forces destroyed the previous mill around the time of the Battle of Rhode Island. The windmill operated until 1895. Several renovations were done in the 20th century and the mill is presently maintained by the Jamestown Historical Society. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Windmill Hill III
Just South of the Windmill is the Conanicut Friends Meeting House. This historic Quaker meeting house was built in 1786 to replace the original meeting house destroyed by the British prior to the Battle of Rhode Island. The building was added to the National Historic Register in 1973 and is still used during the summer. Jamestown is also home to the Old Friends Archeological Site nearby.
Early settlers on Aquidneck found the soil fertile for growing grains and corn, but when they found that in its whole form it wasn't good for the digestion, they replicated windmills from their homelands to get the grinding done. These windmills became an essential part of the community.
One of these early structures was Boyd's Windmill. According to Benjamin F. G. Boyd, in a paper written in 1942 and is published on the Middletown Historical Society’s website, it was built by Sea Captain John Peterson in 1810. The wood used to build it came from Wickford Village.
This beloved structure can be found on all of Middletown’s emblems and seals.
Boyd's Windmill II
To view Boyd's, you'll need to walk. Several hiking trails wind their way through Paradise Park and around Boyd's Windmill. The park is open daily to the public free of charge year-round from sunrise to sunset.
See the inside of Boyd's Windmill during special community events and certain weekends during the summer. Don't miss the grinding stones, which are the multi-ton hearts of these working windmills.
Middletown's Prescott Farm was in danger of demolition before Doris Duke, through the Newport Restoration Foundation, bought it in 1973 and began restoration of the historical site.
Notable features of it include an operational windmill (c. 1811), British General Prescott's Guard House, a county store (c. 1715), and a University of Rhode Island Master Gardener project with the purpose of simulating a historical vegetable garden through careful research on what crops where grown during that time period.
Prescott Farm II
URI master gardeners Jim Garman and Susan Estabrook work in the Period Garden next to the historic Sherman Mill at Prescott Farm, establishing vegetable and herb gardens there that are accurate to those that flourished in the late 1700s.
The Prescott Farm guard house is situated above the herb garden. Next to the guard house is a windmill, known as Sherman Mill, built in 1812, and originally part of a distillery in Warren, RI. The windmill was moved to Prescott Farm in 1969.
Prescott Farm III
One of the most colorful Rhode Island Revolutionary War stories takes place right here. Richard Prescott was a British officer and was third in command of the expedition against Rhode Island, where he remained in command of the British forces prior to the Battle of Rhode Island.
Here on Prescott Farm, he was abducted in his bedclothes from his quarters at night on 10 July 1777, by Lieutenant-Colonel William Barton and a force of about 20 men including Jack Sisson. The Americans took him to Providence, where he was exchanged with an American prisoner of war.
The Newport Tower is commonly considered to have been a windmill built in the mid-17th century. However, the tower still is considered by some to be much older, and evidence of Viking invasion of these lands.
In a document of 1741 the tower is described as "the old stone mill." De Barres' plan of Newport, published in 1776, marks it as "Stone Wind Mill." During the American Revolution, the tower was used by the Americans as a lookout, and by the British to store munitions.
Former Windmill II?
At a height of 28 feet and an exterior width of 24 feet, the tower was once covered with a smooth coating of white plaster, the remains of which can still be seen clinging to the outer walls.
A representation of the tower is featured prominently on the Seal and unit patch of the former US Navy vessel, USS Newport.
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