About Us

125th Celebration

The society participated in the town’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

Founded in 1978, the Narragansett Historical Society is the town’s only organization committed to preserving the rich history of Narragansett, Rhode Island. Led by a small army of volunteers, the organization documents the history of important structures, organizes tours of historic structures and serves as an expert resource for researchers.

Mission

Our mission is to promote the preservation of and education about Narragansett’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

History

The Narragansett Historical Society (NHS) was originally established in 1978 and conducted many wonderful programs and produced books to share the rich history of Narragansett with the public. In 1992 NHS experienced a hiatus as an organization, and although individuals conducted their own efforts toward preserving and sharing Narragansett history, the NHS ceased to exist as a recognized organization.

In 2011, in response to numerous inquiries, Town Manager Grady Miller sent a letter to people he knew had an interest in the town’s history. About 40 people attended an initial meeting, a Steering Committee was formed and began undertaking organizational tasks, including establishing a Board of Directors. Over time NHS has added key members to the Board and began identifying and working with a core group of Consulting Historians. We incorporated as a new historical society in May, 2012. We received our charitable organization status from the Internal Revenue Service (501c3) in March of 2014, retroactive to our incorporation date. Memberships and donations to the NHS are therefore fully tax-deductible.

Some of the more recent events the NHS has conducted include a House Tour and road race (through Gray Matter Marketing) in October 2013, hosted several historical talks, and attended numerous events to generate enthusiasm. In the spring of 2014 NHS undertook a strategic planning process.

NHS relies completely on the hard work of volunteers, the generous support of members and event attendees, and grants to operate. We hope you will consider becoming a member or sponsor of NHS and consider attending and/or volunteering at some of our upcoming events.

Board

SUE BUSH:  Secretary, Board of Directors. Sue Bush fell in love with Narragansett while in graduate school at URI, and was fortunate to eventually settle in Narragansett, where she and her family have resided for 19 years. Sue has an interest in preserving the history and charm of Narragansett. She works as an environmental consultant and enjoys running and cycling.  Sue is also currently serving on the Board of The Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust.

KAREN DASILVA: Member, Board of Directors.  A native Rhode Islander, Karen finally made it “south of the Tower” and moved to Wakefield in 2011.  Karen commutes daily to a Cambridge-based biotech company and works as a global Human Resources business partner supporting their Medical team.  She balances her professional work with continuing to preserve her 1898 home.  Karen has had a lifelong appreciation and passion in preserving assets and key features that have long contributed to the beauty and rich history particularly in South Kingstown and Narragansett. Karen has volunteered for several organizations in Rhode Island.

SHIRLEY EASTHAM:  President, Board of Directors. Shirley had a 25-year career with IBM in Boston, most of which were in administrative management. She served as Past President of the IBM Quarter Century Club. After taking an early retirement from IBM, she spent four years fund raising as a Loaned Executive to United Way. She relocated to Narragansett in 1986. Locally, she ran two small businesses, including Eastham & Associates, a consulting group. She served as Event Coordinator at Kinney Bungalow from 2004 through 2009. She served as a Board Member of the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust from 2010 through 2014. Her primary interests are land conservation, historic preservation, town history, and town beautification. She loves living in Narragansett and particularly enjoys reading, writing, gardening, tennis, traveling, and socializing.

RUDI HEMPE:  Grants, Board of Directors. Rudi has been a resident of Narragansett for 53 years. Rudi has had an extensive writing career, having been a newspaper reporter and editor, and a science writer for URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Rudi has also volunteered extensively for many organizations. He is the former president of the RI Press Associations, former Vice Chair of the Southern RI Conservation District, former President of the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, and former President of the URI Master Gardeners. He spends much time as an Operations Planning Coordinator for the URI Master Gardener Program.

KATHIE KELLEHER:  Vice President, Board of Directors. Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with a minor in Archaeology. Born and raised in Rhode Island. After living in Connecticut and Europe, moved back and settled in Narragansett in 2000. Studied the history and culture of Narragansett before becoming the secretary of the Friends of Canonchet Farm in 2007.

VILMA MOCLAIR:  Member, Board of Directors. A native Rhode Islander who returned in 1982 after many years bringing up her large family in New York and Connecticut. She has long had a love of this area’s history and beauty, and her 27 years as a professional full-time realtor has given her an intimate knowledge of the area’s structures. This, along with her interest in historic preservation and education, makes her a very welcome addition to the Board.

DR. ROBERT O’NEILL: Vice President, Board of Directors. After retiring from his obstetrics/gynecological practice at South County Hospital, Dr. O’Neill devotes his energies to many facets of our history.  He served as the chair of the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust for five years. He and his wife Linda lived at and restored the historic Ocean Road home, Dunmere Gatehouse, and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. After many years in Narragansett, they recently moved to Saunderstown, where he serves on the North Kingstown Zoning Board. He is a frequent speaker on the history of the Hazard family in the local area.

DONNA B. RODGERS:  Treasurer, Board of Directors. Donna is a native Rhode Islander, married to a native Rhode Islander  and her three adult children also live in work here in Rhode Island. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rhode Island College and retired after nearly thirty years. Her nursing career was mainly in management and research. A lifelong armchair historian, she looks forward to contributing to the NHS and helping to preserve our history for generations to come.

RICHARD VANGERMEERSCH:  Member, Board of Directors. Emeritus Professor of Accounting from URI, he has lived in Narragansett since 1971. His expertise was in the history of accounting. In addition, he has been very involved with numerous organization’s histories as they celebrated milestones and anniversaries. Since his 2004 retirement, he has reoriented his research to Narragansett.