Palmer Meeting House

Location: The Palmer Meeting House (formerly known as the Escoheag Advent Christian Church) is located at 195 Escoheag Hill Road in West Greenwich, Rhode Island. The property was donated to the WGLT by the Palmer family in April 2004.

History: We've found little written documentation about the meeting house; but are hopeful that more information will be found and that we'll be able to add to this.

In several references to the meeting house, indications are that it was built around 1870. However, it appears that the building may not have been built until the late 1890's. The first written reference that we've found is in a deed dated June 29, 1897 which was recorded in the Town of West Greenwich on July 28, 1897 in Book 16, Pages 60 and 61. The deed transfers a parcel of land from Nathan B. Palmer to Escoheag Advent Christian Church. The transfer was made "in consideration of $5 paid to me" and grants to T. Barber, John F. Perkins and George L. Barber, all of Exeter, as trustees of the church, a parcel of land containing 42 square rods. The deed goes on to state that the land is "to be held for the erection of a meeting house and such other buildings as said church or said trustees may see fit to erect". The church was to be used for religious purposes only. Nathan B. Palmer, in the deed, also "assigns privileges of getting from his land adjoining said conveyed lot all the stones necessary to build a good balance wall on the westerly and northerly sides of said sides of said conveyed land and also all stones which may be needed for underpinning and foundations for such meeting house and other buildings" as shall be built. The witnesses of the deed were Elmer E. Wilcox and George H. Olney.

Nathan Palmer, the grantor of the deed, was born in Exeter on August 18, 1833 and died in West Greenwich on December 31, 1908. His parents were Ezra and Lucy (Slocum) Palmer. He married Mary Congdon, daughter of Emanuel and Mary Congdon, who was born November 19, 1827 and died December 14, 1891. Nathan had acquired a total of 100 acres of land (including the land deeded to the church) with a "dwelling house", barn and other buildings in 1870. He purchased it for $2000 from Stephen Congdon. The witnesses at that purchase were George H. Olney, David Congdon and George F. Barber. The property included the "William A. Gallup House" which was built in 1808 by William Gallup.

Nathan and Mary Palmer had three children, William Ezra, Lewis Nathan and Emma Frances, all born in Exeter.

The ribbon cutting ceremony - "West Greenwich style" - at the official opening
of the Palmer Meeting House. Photo courtesy of Joe Healey.

It is believed that Jason Perry Hazard was one of the persons instrumental in the building of the meeting house. He had once been the deacon of the West Greenwich Centre Church (Plain Meeting House); but had broken away from that church to have a house of worship closer to his house. At the time he lived at the "Tillinghast-Hazard Place" on Molasses Hill Road where he built a church; in the 1890's he then was involved in building the Escoheag Advent Christian Church.

Jason P. Hazard, son of Thomas T. Hazard and Esther L. (Tillinghast) Hazard, was born on February 23, 1823 and died July 11, 1908. On March 15, 1847 he married Betsy M. Lewis, daughter of Moses Lewis and Welthian (Tillinghast) Lewis who was born in Exeter on June 27, 1822 and died March 7, 1915. They had several children including Alice Hazard, Duty Jay Hazard, Thomas T. Hazard, Charles Hazard, George B. Hazard and Stephen Allen Hazard.

The West Greenwich Land Trust received the property by means of a gift from the Palmer family. Contents of the property include approximately 300 books, including a membership book which lists the members of the church in 1908, 1909 and 1910.

A model of the Palmer Meeting House, created by Armand Lanoie
of West Greenwich, is on display at the Louttit Library.

Public Use: The property will be used primarily for events sponsored by the West Greenwich Land Trust.

Note: We are looking for pictures and information about the meeting house and the people associated with it. Please let us know if you have any history that you are willing to share with us.

Volunteers Needed! We need volunteers to maintain the grounds (including cutting the grass, clearing brush, etc.), as well as to perform miscellaneous maintenance. If you would like to help in this worthwhile project, please contact Diana Rotelli at 401-397-9758.

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