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 The Movable Church, Conanicut Island, RI
An 1899 picture of the church, built in 1898. Charles E. Preston

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 Park.

"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 Park.

"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 there."


Larger versions of some of the more interesting pictures in the book.

Above: Water Front and East Ferry
Right: Moving down Narragansett Avenue
Going past the Bay View - waiting for linemen Going past Shoreby Hill


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These scans 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.
Copyright 2013 Susan White Pieroth