Our History

South Ferry Church

One of the finest examples of an early Victorian church, the South Ferry Church, is located 1000 feet from Narragansett Bay on a hilltop on South Ferry Road in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Designed by Thomas Tefft, a prominent 19th century Providence architect, the South Ferry Church was built in the 1850's for the Narragansett Baptist Church.

It was originally part of the thriving South Ferry textile village. During these early years, the church was a meeting place for some of the most prominent families in Narragansett. However, changes in the textile industry and transportation technology led to a decline in the village. In addition, in 1908 the Baptist congregation moved to another location a mile away.

A Beacon of Light

For the next 65 years the South Ferry Memorial Society took title to the church; preventing it from being moved, while preserving it as a memorial. The Reverend Alfred C. Thomas described the South Ferry Church most beautifully when he said "The builders of the church were occupied with a conception of freedom of religion. This spirit led the community to build not only a place of worship, but a spiritual beacon light that has been seen by generations of seafaring heroes that have come up this passage."

Sadly, the church's beacon went out in the 1938 hurricane. The church was devastated, the roof gone, the steeple on the ground after the storm. It might have been left deserted had it not been for a group of concerned citizens and the South Ferry Memorial Society who successfully rebuilt it and for the next 30 years, continued to open it once a year in August for a non-denominational service.

In 1974, the title of the church was passed to the University of Rhode Island to become part of the expanded Bay Campus. In 1977, through efforts of URI, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Keep the Beacon Bright

Today the stewardship of the South Ferry Church has passed to the Friends of the South Ferry Church, a group of concerned citizens. We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and are dependent on our many donors for the annual costs of maintaining and improving our historic building and grounds.

Recognizing the building's priceless and irreplaceable part of the architectural historic heritage of Rhode Island, the Friend's mission is to protect the South Ferry Church from alteration or deterioration.

The church holds several events throughout the year highlighted by our August Lecture Series which features outstanding speakers covering a wide variety of subjects of national and international interest. The Lecture Series is free of charge and is open to the public.

Become a Friend

Please join us in preserving this beacon of light for future generations by becoming a "Friend". Your donation will be added to an endowment fund, the income from which will be used each year to restore and enhance the historic charm of the church. Checks may be made payable to Friends of the South Ferry Church and are tax-deductible. Please send checks to Jill Patterson, SM Capital Management, One Financial Center, 24th Floor, Boston, MA 02111.

  • KEEP THE BEACON BRIGHT

    Today the stewardship of the South Ferry Church has passed to the Friends of the South Ferry Church, a group of concerned citizens. We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and are dependent on our many donors for the annual costs of maintaining and improving our historic building and grounds.

    Recognizing the building's priceless and irreplaceable part of the architectural historic heritage of Rhode Island, the Friend's mission is to protect the South Ferry Church from alteration or deterioration.