Adamsville

Tour curated by: John Nicholas Brown Center

Although technically a village within the town of Little Compton, Adamsville has been a vibrant, independent community since its founding in the 1600s. Its location at the head of a river and along an overland route connecting New Bedford to Newport made it an important center for commerce and trade. Over the years, dozens of small stores have come and gone from the community, selling dry goods, clothing, even moonshine. They served not just as stores, but as post offices, men’s hangouts, and even taverns. Adamsville's large mill pond, which provided power to the local mills, is also an important part of the community's economic history.

Today, the village is redefining itself in the twenty first century, serving as a home to both year-round and summer residents as well as continuing to be the business center of the community.

Locations for Tour

Adamsville had its very own library in the early 1920s. It was housed in the north room of Hattie and Eugene Shurtleff's house at the corner of Colebrook and Stone Church Roads. The Shurtleff's daughter Venetta (Nettie) ran the library.…

The Plymouth Court established Adamsville as part of "Sakonnet" in the seventeenth century. The settlement adopted the name "Little Compton" in 1683 (check). Although Adamsville village had no official name at that time, many…

The border between Adamsville and Westport was changed in 1747 from the west bank of the Westport River (which is just to the East of Brayton's Garage) to this location in the middle of the mill pond. The new border cut though established lots…

Built in 1905, the Spite Tower’s history is clouded by legend. Dr. John Hathaway and his second wife, Claudia Church, built this unique structure for reasons that have been debated for decades. Late in the eighteenth century, the Church…

Imagine a stereotypical small farm with a few chickens pecking around the yard, the sun shining on their bright red feathers. This image is close to the reality in Little Compton today, but for a few decades the town was the center of an…

“Young man, if you don’t get out you’re going to end up with a little round hole in the middle of your forehead.” The words were polite and calm, but ominous, spoken to a youthful group of summer people during a late night visit to Briggs…

Little Compton was once full of Odd Fellows. That’s no insult. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal and philanthropic organization established in seventeenth-century England. It arrived on American shores in 1819, and in 1875,…

There was a time when, if a bride wanted to walk up the aisle at the Old Stone Baptist Church, she had to hoist herself, gown and all, through one of the church’s back windows. Most churches place the pulpit and the main entrance at opposite ends…

In the early 1800s local Baptists established the Christian Baptist Church here at the top of Adamsville Hill; after the church closed, the building was later used as a school. Today, the buried foundation is all that remains of the building that…

Ebenezer Church built the original general store in 1820 and sold it to his partner Philip Manchester in 1864. Philip’s son Abraham slept every night at the store from the time he was six years old, taking over its operation as an adult. He was…

Deborah Manchester gave Wheeler Ball Field to the town for “the children of Adamsville” in honor of her nephew, Philip Manchester Wheeler, and great-nephew, Stafford Manchester Wheeler who was killed in World War II. Miss Debbie worked for many…

Adamsville’s first mill was established by Philip Taber prior to 1700. Most early mills in the Little Compton area were wind-powered, but in order to saw wood, it was necessary to have water power. The Adamsville mill pond provided power for both a…

Designated the “Oldest Continuously Operating Store in the United States” in 2007 by Rhode Island officials, Gray’s Store was forced to close after the unexpected death of its owner Grayton Waite in 2012. The store was first established by…

This pond and its link to the West Branch of the Westport River are the primary reasons for Adamsville's existence. These natural resources created an ideal spot for both a gristmill and a sawmill. Early settlers were quick to realize the…
comments powered by Disqus