History of the Charlestown Historical Society

For a complete overview of our first forty years, open the 40-Year History document below.

Here are a few of our more memorable years:

October 24, 1968

Charlestown Historical Society was formed. The vandalism and subsequent destruction of the Old Indian Schoolhouse was the driving force that prompted concerned citizens to form the Society.


Ernestine Swanson donated the District #2 Schoolhouse in Quonochontaug to the Society.


The 1838 Schoolhouse was moved to its current location with a low-cost lease of 10,000 sq. ft. of land by Cross’ Mills Library Board of Trustees.


CHS joins with the Charlestown Bicentennial Committee in its efforts and prints Reflections of Charlestown 1876-1976 – A Memorial to the Bicentennial Celebration of the United States of America.


CHS receives $5,000 from the Charlestown Bicentennial Committee for the purpose building a permanent museum to store and display the town’s historical items and archives. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this vision of a museum for Charlestown never became a reality. However, this original $5,000 has grown and is now “seed money” for the new museum.


CHS publishes The Historical Story of Charlestown, Rhode Island by Frances Wharton Mandeville.


Thirty-four years after the initial vision of a archive building for Charlestown, the Society was granted a generous 99-year lease on land adjacent to the schoolhouse. Planning and fundraising began in earnest.


One year later, almost half of the total goal of $140,000 has been raised. At its recent meeting the CHS Board unanimously voted to begin construction with the goal of completing all exterior work this summer. Interior finishing will begin as soon as the additional funds are raised.


Construction of the CHS Archive Building is complete and open for visitors.

Interested in more history? We’ve also got a page on the history of the individual Charlestown Villages here.