Johnston Historical Society
About Us


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Photo by Beth Hurd.
The Johnston Historical Society was formed by a group of historically minded residents in the late 1970s. They had previously been members of the Johnston Bicentennial Committee/Farnum House Committee which, of course, had come together to celebrate the nation's 200th anniversary. The founders of the society saw the need for a permanent organization whose purpose would be to research and preserve the town's history. In the early 1980s the group met in what was then called the Farnum/Angell House, and the society received a big boost when the town deeded the house over to our group in 1984. We now had a permanent home for meetings, a second floor where a tenant could live, and a place where we could start gathering artifacts for our museum.

Around 2000 we opened our museum barn, built thanks to a grant from the Champlin Foundations. Our meetings were shifted to the barn, and we set up the museum. After research showed that our headquarters house had been built by Elijah Angell, we changed the name of the building to the Elijah Angell House. Today, it functions as a house museum and is part of the Johnston History Museum.

Around 2002 we were deeded the historic Belknap School property. Thanks to another grant from the Champlin Foundations we were able to restore the exterior around 2005-'06, and a further State Preservation Grant allowed us to complete the interior during 2009-'10. On May 15, 2010, the 1892 one-room schoolhouse re-opened to the public for the first time with a dedication ceremony attended by five former students who last sat behind the school's desks in the 1930s and early '40s.

Our society has been, and still is, involved in a number of activities. We are constantly adding to our collection of Johnston material. Monthly meetings with speakers are held at the barn. For the past few years we have hosted dinners and teas in the historical homes of some of our members. We have done much work with the town's one hundred cemeteries, and we have published a historical newsletter for the past twenty years.

In the future we would like to start a program through which school children can tour the museum buildings and become acquainted with the history of their town.

Executive Board
President—Louis McGowan
Vice-President—Dan Brown
Treasurer—Joe Jamroz
Recording Secretary—Elise Carlson
Corresponding Secretary—Christopher Martin
Trustees—Belmira McGowan, Doug Stephens, Marie Thierfelder, and Anthony Ursillo

Executive Board Meetings are held the second to last Wednesday of each month at our headquarters. All are welcome.
General Meetings are held the last Wednesday of each month, September through June, at the museum. All are welcome.

Want to be a Member?
Dues are $20 per year for an individual, $30 per year for a family membership.

For additional information call (401) 231-3380.

The Johnston Historical Society is a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Tax returns are available for review upon request.

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Home | Properties | Events | Publications | Johnston History

Johnston Historical Society, 101 Putnam Pike, Johnston, RI 02919, (401) 231-3380, info@johnstonhistorical.org
Unless otherwise noted, all content is © Johnston Historical Society.

Updated February 2016