Little Compton, Rhode Island

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Little Compton, Rhode Island
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settlement_type = Town
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mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Little Compton in Rhode Island

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pushpin_label_position =left
pushpin_map_caption =Location within the state of Rhode Island
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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Rhode Island
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Newport
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government_type = Town Council
leader_title = Town Council President
leader_name = Robert L. Mushen
leader_title1 = City Council
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established_title = Established
established_date = 1682
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = 1746
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area_magnitude = 20.9 square miles
unit_pref = Imperial
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area_total_km2 = 74.9
area_land_km2 = 54.1
area_water_km2 = 20.8
area_total_sq_mi = 28.9
area_land_sq_mi = 20.9
area_water_sq_mi = 8.0
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population_as_of = 2000
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population_total = 3593
population_density_km2 = 66.5
population_density_sq_mi = 172
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timezone = Eastern
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = Eastern
utc_offset_DST = -4
latd = 42 |latm = 31 |lats = 30 |latNS = N
longd = 71 |longm = 45 |longs = 37 |longEW = W
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 25
elevation_ft = 104
postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 02837
area_code = 401
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 44-42400GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 1220062GR|3
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Little Compton is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States. Its population was 3,593 at the time of the 2000 census.GR|2 Little Compton is located in southeastern Rhode Island, between the Sakonnet River and the Massachusetts state border. It is the birthplace of the Rhode Island Red hen.


Little Compton originally belonged to the Wampanoag tribe, who were led by Awashonks, the sister of Metacom (commonly known as King Philip). They called the area Sakonnet (variations include Sogkonate, Seconit, and Seaconnet).

The first European settlers in Little Compton were Englishmen from the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts who sought to expand their land holdings by settling further on the periphery of the colony. They petitioned the Plymouth Colony, which granted them their land. There were 32 original owners of the land, one of whom was Colonel Benjamin Church. Church was well known for his role in the late 17th-century Indian Wars. In 1675, Church built his homestead in Little Compton, just prior to King Philip's War. Today, a plaque on the side of West Main Road marks the location of his original homestead.

In 1682, the town was incorporated by the Plymouth Colony and renamed Little Compton. This is possibly a reference to Little Compton in Warwickshire, England. However, there is no direct evidence to substantiate this relationship. By 1747, Little Compton secured its own royal decree and was annexed to Newport County as a part of Rhode Island along with Tiverton and other towns. Because Little Compton was once part of the Plymouth colony, all probate records prior to 1746 can be found in Taunton, MA, United States.

Sites of historic interest in Little Compton include the Wilbor House, built in 1692 by Samuel Wilbor, now the home of the Little Compton Historical Society [] .

There are many historic cemeteries. Colonel Benjamin Church and his family are buried in the Commons cemetery, as is Elizabeth Pabodie, the eldest daughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame. The stones in the cemetery reflect a style of carving similar to that found both in Newport and in Boston during the same time period.

Rhode Island's only town common is located in Little Compton.

While there are only a few 17th-century structures still standing, there are many which date from the 18th and 19th century. The Quaker meeting house on West Main Road, Number 8 Schoolhouse (now used as part of the Town Hall), Town Hall, Wilbur's Store, and the United Congregational Church all pre-date 1900 and are centered around the town commons. Additional historic homes are scattered throughout the town and include the Asa Gray house, the Slicer house, Oldacre, the Brownell house on West Main Road, the Brownell house on Meetinghouse Lane, William Whalley Homestead farmstead on Burchard Ave., and the Brownell Library on the commons.

Another distinctive feature of the town is the "Spite Tower" found in the village of Adamsville. Local lore claims that the tower was constructed to obscure the line of sight of a town local. While most stories involve members of the local Manchester family, there is no consensus as to the true history of the structure.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 28.9 square miles (74.9 km²), of which, 20.9 square miles (54.1 km²) is land and 8.0 square miles (20.8 km²) (27.79%) is water.


There is only one school in Little Compton, the Josephine F. Wilbur and McMahon school. Approximately 350 students attend classes in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Located in the center of town, the residents simply refer to it as "Wilbur School." High school students currently attend Portsmouth high school in Portsmouth, RI. [ [ Our School ] ]

Rhode Island Red

The Rhode Island Red is a breed of chicken originally bred in Adamsville, a small village that is part of Little Compton. Little Compton is the only place in the United States with a monument dedicated to a chicken. In 1925, the Rhode Island Red Club of America donated funds for an elegant monument to the Rhode Island Red in Adamsville, near the baseball field and across the street from the Barn restaurant. The monument is now on the National Register of Historic Places. A competing monument to the Rhode Island Red was erected by the state in 1954, one mile south of Adamsville. Some claim that it was not created for the poultry fanciers, but for the farmers who raised them commercially in great numbers in Little Compton.

Notable residents

* Awashonks (ca. 1620 - ca. 1684), female sachem of the Sakonnet tribe
* Sydney Richmond Burleigh (1853-1931), artist
* Captain Benjamin Church (ca. 1639 - 1718), military officer in King Philip's War
* Christopher R. Hill (b. 1952), Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
* Henry Demarest Lloyd (1847 - 1903), muckraking journalist
* J. William Middendorf (b. 1924), diplomat, civil servant, and artist
* Arden Myrin (b. 1973), cast member of MADtv
* Elizabeth Pabodie (1623 - 1717), daughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, recognized as the first white girl born in New England
* Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce (1834 - 1900), a rancher and cattleman in Texas
* John Simmons (1796-1870), clothing manufacturer and founder of Simmons College
* Henry Tillinghast Sisson (1831 - 1910), Civil War hero, Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island, and inventor of the three-ring binder
* Charles Edwin Wilbour (1833 - 1896), journalist and Egyptologist
* Isaac Wilbour (1763 - 1837), governor of Rhode Island, member of the United States House of Representatives, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island

Stores and restaurants

The majority of stores in Little Compton are in the center of town, "the Commons". A Sovereign Bank is housed in a building that used to be the Post Office. Before that, it was the Simmons store, which is located in the neighborhood of Adamsville. One of the more famous restaurants in Little Compton is the Commons Lunch, known for its johnny cakes. It burned down in 2004, but has since reopened. A-1 Pizza has been on the Commons in Little Compton for over 35 years and serves fresh pizzas and subs. Other restaurants in town include Crowther's on Pottersville Road. The Art Cafe serves coffee drinks in a beautiful country setting. During the summer, many farm stands open, most of which are on West Main Road. These include the Last Stand, Walker's Roadside Stand, Gray's Grist Mill [] (home of the RI Jonnycake), and Young Family Farm. Peckham's Greenhouse at West Main and Peckham Roads attracts customers for its plants and gardening supplies. In Adamsville, Gray's claims to be the oldest continually operating general store in the country; it is now an antique store.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 3,593 people, 1,475 households, and 1,041 families residing in the town. The population density was 172.1 people per square mile (66.5/km²). There were 2,103 housing units at an average density of 100.7/sq mi (38.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.75% White, 0.06% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.06% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 0.86% of the population.

There were 1,475 households, of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.7% were married couples living together, 6.8% had a female head-of-household with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. Statistically, 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the town, the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $55,368, and the median income for a family was $62,750. Males had a median income of $43,199 versus a median income of $28,676 for females. The per capita income for the town was $32,513. Only 3.4% of the population and 3.7% of families were below the poverty line. Of this population, 1.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.4% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Most people who live in Little Compton commute to cities such as Providence and Boston. Many houses in Little Compton are summer homes. The population almost doubles in the summer due to tourism.

National Registered Historic Places

*Wilbor House Museum
*Friends Meeting House
*Little Compton Common Historic District
*Rhode Island Red Monument
*Sakonnet Light Station
*Stone House Inn
*William Whalley Homestead

External links

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