The public will have the rare opportunity to tour nine historic Little Compton properties on September 17 to benefit the Little Compton Historical Society. Six private homes, two Historical Society properties, and an active archaeological site are all included on the tour that runs from Noon to 5 PM and invites participants to explore the properties in any order they wish.
Each of the properties will be staffed with knowledgeable volunteer docents who will help direct visitors through the homes and will be available to answer questions. Each site will have a designated parking area, and car-pooling is encouraged.
The tour includes:
- The Brownell Farm – an iconic c. 1814 Little Compton farmhouse that has remained in the Brownell Family for over 200 years, and provides visitors with a museum-like experience thanks in part to the preservation efforts of former owner and local historian Carlton Brownell;
- The Church House and the Spite Tower – a merchant family’s c. 1815 mansion in Adamsville that is one of the very few houses built in early Little Compton that was not originally intended to be a farmhouse or a summer home;
- The Mill – one of Little Compton’s first summer homes, which incorporates a three-story, c. 1812 windmill and the fanciful bas-relief plaster sculptures of artist Sydney Burleigh;
- The Kempton House – one of Little Compton’s few Victorian-styled farmhouses, it offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of Warren’s Point from its cupola and has remained in the Kempton-Clark family since its construction in 1871;
- Sea Bourne Mary – a beautifully preserved early 18th-century home brought to Little Compton from New Hampshire that is surrounded by the legend of Ocean Born Mary and her pirate;
- Wunnegin – an elegant c. 1918 summer home that incorporates a much earlier 1779 farmhouse, the house has recently undergone an award-winning restoration and its Llyod Lawton garden was revitalized;
- The Wilbor House – The Historical Society’s c.1691 Historic House Museum and outbuildings, includeds a special exhibit on Little Compton’s Historic Houses, and permanent exhibits “Everyone Was a Farmer” and “Terra Nova, Vida Nova: The Portuguese in Little Compton;”
- The Quaker Meeting House – Also a Historical Society property, the Meeting House is typically open to the public only a few days per year or by appointment, this building, beautiful in its simplicity, was rebuilt in 1815 after a damaging storm with funds borrowed from Afro-Indigenous Quaker Merchant, Paul Cuffe. Eizabeth Cazden, a Quaker historian will be onsite during the tour to answer visitor’s questions.
- The Manton Farm – this archaeological site explores the cellar hole of one of Little Compton’s few 19th- and 20th-century Afro-Indigenous families. Archaeologist Holly Herbster from the Public Archaeology Laboratory will be digging during the tour, and visitors will be welcome to ask questions or even participate if they like.
Historic House Tours have been an important part of the Historical Society’s offerings for over 50 years and happen only once every five years. Because of the pandemic, it has been seven years since the Little Compton Historical Society has been able to offer a house tour. This year, the Society began preparing for the tour over a year in advance by carefully researching each of the properties and the people who lived and worked in them. The result is the second volume in their house history book series, “The Stories Houses Tell.” The beautifully illustrated book is available for sale on the Historical Society’s website and according to Executive Director Marjory O’Toole, “Is a fantastic way for participants to enjoy and understand the properties on a deeper level, whether they read the book before or after the tour.”