Summer Lecture Series – The second Sunday of each month, June – Sept., at 4:00 pm.

We are hosting a series of lectures  to be held the second Sunday of each month, beginning in June. Please join us for these events at the “Clarke Lodge” on Clarke Road (next to the Windmill Building – our future home — follow directions to 170 Clarke Road, Narragansett)

We do incur a cost to hold these events, so a $5 per person donation is suggested (VOLUNTARY), at the event. 

We appreciate your support!

Also, the venue has limited seating. Please sign up for events at the links below to help us ensure adequate seating.


August 14 — Dr. Joanne Pope Melish, Slavery in South County

Dr. Joanne Pope Melish will present information about slavery in South County. 

Joanne Pope Melish is Associate Professor of History Emerita at the University of Kentucky, where she also directed the American Studies Program and co-directed the Africana Studies Initiative for several years. Dr. Melish received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University. She is the author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860 (Cornell University Press, 1998) and many essays on race and slavery in the early republic and on slavery in public history and pedagogy. Joanne has directed or co-directed several NEH-funded residential summer teacher institutes and workshops on race and slavery in early New England and has served as a consultant to a number of historic sites. Currently she is a Visiting Scholar in the American Studies Department at Brown University. We look forward to hearing her talk! 

Please register for this event at this link.

September 11 — Dr. Richard Vangermeersh, Research and Writing Workshop

Dr. Richard Vangermeersch will hold a research and writing workshop, providing tips and inspiration, and using “Women of Narragansett” to highlight his approach. Check back for updates and more information.


July 10 — Bella Noka, The story of Tarzan Brown

On Sunday July 10th, we had the unique opportunity to learn about well-known local legend, “Tarzan” Ellison Myers Brown’s, and his accomplishments from several members of his family. The discussion was led by Tarzan’s niece, Bella Noka. Tarzan was born in Westerly, RI and was a member of the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island. While he would become a stone mason, Tarzan is most known for being a two-time winner in the Boston Marathon, 1936 (2:33:40) and 1939 (2:27:30), as well as holding speed records at all seven checkpoints and setting a course record in 1939. In 1936 at age 22, he became the youngest winner of the Boston Marathon. He also ran the marathon in the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin.

In the 1936 Boston Marathon, Tarzan sped out of the starting gate and had an early lead. But as the Newton hills approached, Johnny Kelley, the defending champion, caught up to Tarzan. Kelley patted Tarzan, and then passed Tarzan. From that point on, Tarzan would pass Kelley, Kelley would pass Tarzan, with Tarzan ultimately winning the race. “A newspaper reporter the next day called the final hill where Tarzan had broken Kelley’s spirit ‘Heartbreak Hill.’  The legend of Heartbreak Hill was born!” (The Legend of Tarzan Brown, Westerly Life, March 13, 2019.)

We enjoyed hearing stories from Tarzan Brown’s relatives, and hearing Native American drumming and singing. Thank you to all who participated and attended. 


June 12 — Brian Wallin, Down to the Sea by Rail

By the 1870’s, Narragansett Pier was firmly established as a summer resort. At first, it was a vacation spot for people of means, but by the turn of the century, it became a popular daytime destination for residents of Providence and other communities, thanks largely to the scenic and affordable Seaview Trolley Company that ran from East Greenwich down to the Pier. The line also carried freight and the products of local farmers. There were grandiose plans to run the line into Wakefield, but the line ran smack into the competing Narragansett Pier Railroad right in the middle of the town’s Main Street. The omnivorous New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which had been assembling a transportation monopoly in New England also threw a curve ball at the Seaview, with a surprise alternative service. Sadly, tracked trolleys in Rhode Island fell victim to the arrival of the automobile age after World War One. By 1920, the Seaview would be bankrupt, its tracks torn up and sold for scrap. Today, its only visible remains are the power lines along the right of way, now under control of National Grid. This well-illustrated tale takes a ride on the Seaview, with some detours to share stories of the people and places that made the line so popular in its heyday.

About Brian Wallin:

Brian L. Wallin is a graduate of Stonehill College and earned his master’s degree from American International College. He spent the first 20 years of his career as a radio and television news reporter, anchor and producer in New England also contributing to the NBC, CBS and ABC networks. He broadcast the America’s Cup yacht races between 1967 and 1983 for national and international news organizations. He has served as an adjunct professor at Providence College and Salve Regina University and is currently on the faculty of the URI Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).  He had a career in health care management, and is a past president of the New England Society for Healthcare Communications and of the North Kingstown (RI) Rotary He is a trustee of the Varnum Continentals historic militia in East Greenwich (RI), a docent at the Naval War College Museum nd a member of the US Naval Institute. Brian continues to do voice-overs and documentary narrations. 

Brian is a frequent lecturer to audiences across the state on Rhode Island history. He writes for specialty publications and is a contributing author to the on line journal of Rhode Island history, Brian is the co-author of “World War Two Rhode Island,” a book about the war’s impact on the Ocean State, published by the History Press.