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|An 1899 picture
of the church, built in 1898.
The above picture, and those below, come from the book, "The
First Movable Church; Chapel of the Transfiguration; Conanicut Island,
Diocese of Rhode Island. The Only Complete Church on Wheels in the
World" by Charles E. Preston, 1899.
The complete book is scanned HERE, with two
sizes of images to view and save.
Missing page numbers were blank pages on the back of pictures.
In an article, "St. Matthew’s movable chapel and Rev.
Charles Preston" in the Jamestown Press, October 31,
2013, Rosemary Enright and Sue Maden wrote:
"In 1898 – long before the advent of the house trailer or the RV –
Preston conceived the idea of a church on wheels. Automobiles were
still rare, and parishioners sometimes found getting to St. Matthew’s
difficult. The chapel would bring church services to them. For 10
months of the year, it would sit about 3 miles north of the village and
serve the yearround farm community. In the summer, it would be moved to
the northernmost part of the island to serve the summer residents at Conanicut
"The chapel, designed by Jamestown
architect Charles L. Bevins, was 18 feet wide, and from the floor to
the ridgepole, it stood 18 feet high. The cross and belfry added
several more feet. Inside, pews could seat 100 people. George Barber
began construction in 1898 in a lot next to St. Matthew’s. ...
"By Christmas, work on the movable chapel was practically
finished. In April of 1899, the completed chapel was moved, with great
difficulty, by 10 yoke of oxen recruited from Jamestown
and Middletown to a spot on East Shore Road.
The short trip took two days. There it remained – used as a chapel for
at least part of the time – for 10 years. In 1909, it was moved to
North Main Road near Carr Lane. It never did reach Conanicut
"Georgina Day, a summer Jamestowner, purchased the unused
chapel in 1933. Tom Preece, using a special tractor with caterpillar
treads, moved the building to Harbor Street
where it was converted to a private residence. The house, with some of
the architectural features of the chapel still discernible, is still
versions of some of the more interesting pictures in the book.
Above: Water Front and East Ferry
Right: Moving down Narragansett Avenue
past the Bay View - waiting for linemen
past Shoreby Hill
Return to Susan Carter White
are provided by me, Susan White Pieroth, for your personal
genealogy and history research. You may not copy
them to another website (links are fine) or publish them in a book or
on a CD for distribution of any kind. If
you think I might make an exception, please contact
me. I do not sell prints.