'Historic Warren' is getting people excited about local lore and history

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 4/10/24

They started in 2019 and have a Facebook page with over 3,000 followers that began in 2022. The momentum is real, and the interest in their efforts is growing.

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'Historic Warren' is getting people excited about local lore and history


There are a lot of local groups dedicated to finding, preserving, and sharing Warren’s history with the greater community. Thankfully for Warren residents — whether they’ve been here for generations, or just want to learn a little about the area they just moved to — these groups all seem to enjoy and respect one another.

Such was evident during a recent visit to a meeting of representatives of “Historic Warren”, an informal, collaborative working group and a meeting of the minds between volunteers of the Historic Warren Armory, the Charles Whipple Green Museum at the George Hail Library, the Warren Fire Department Museum, the Massasoit Historical Association, the Warren Preservation Society, and the Washington Masonic Lodge #3.

Five years ago this month, Historic Warren launched following an interest in the creation of a local maritime museum. The groups together agreed that a digital museum would be the most feasible way to tell this history, and they launched their website (HistoricWarrenRI.org) to direct people to the individual sites of its different agencies.

In 2022, they launched their Facebook page of the same name, which has since racked up impressive numbers for a page dedicated to sharing local historical facts, photos, and assorted tidbits. As of press time, they had just eclipsed 3,000 followers of the page, with posts normally accruing hundreds of likes, comments, and shares.

Gathered around a folding table in the lower common area of the Washington Lodge this past Thursday, Sarah Weed (Vice President of the Warren Preservation Society) spoke about how advantageous it has been to pool together collective knowledge and resources.

“We were working in silos. We didn’t know what other people had in their collections,” she said. “When we put our facts together and our artifacts together, it told a more complete story. We are also all underfunded. If we pool some money together we can hire people, buy some software.”

Weed said that doing so had enabled them to do things like hire an archivist to look at their various historical collections and help them prioritize which ones were most worthy of saving, which were somewhat interesting, and which could be put aside or forgotten about.

Putting the information up online onto a platform that is designed to draw interest and comments from the public also has its advantages, as people might be able to identify people, places, and events occurring in photographs that otherwise lack certain context.

Together, the groups have worked to staff informational booths at local events, raised funds to restore the Washington Street historic marker, raised funds to create new historic site markers, and have assembled a tidy, informative one-page map that brings visitors of the Town to a variety of interesting and historical sites, complete with significant information about each location.

Last year, the group took the top 26 posts from the Facebook page and turned it into a lively narration, which went over well when they recited it as an event during this past year’s Art Night. They look to repeat that event for the Warren Senior Center this year.

Although most in the group joked in unison that Weed was the de facto leader of the group, Historic Warren has no leader or hierarchy. Everyone has an equal seat at the table and the same goal in mind: to share anything historical related to Warren that might interest people in Town.

“We’re really glad to get these things out there,” Weed said. “It gives exposure and helps people see the value of what we’ve collected. This town is so densely rich with history, it’s amazing.”

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.