Acoaxet chapel at 150 years: Faithful paid $35 for the land

Posted 4/29/22

Editor's note: This is a second in a series of articles commemorating this year's 150th anniversary of the Acoaxet Chapel Association.

By Neil Timpson

From 1840 on, neighbors in Acoaxet, …

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Acoaxet chapel at 150 years: Faithful paid $35 for the land


Editor's note: This is a second in a series of articles commemorating this year's 150th anniversary of the Acoaxet Chapel Association.

By Neil Timpson

From 1840 on, neighbors in Acoaxet, then a farming community, met in each other’s homes for prayer, singing and religious meditations, without any definite organization. Later, meetings were held in the old schoolhouse, midway of the field north of the present chapel.

When the new school was built, they held meetings there. A quaker schoolteacher, Lizzie Davis, had started a Sabbath school from her public school pupils but abandoned it in a short time. A. Frank Howland picked it up and with others, the Sabbath School of the Good Shepherd was started, and meetings held in the schoolhouse.

During the years 1867-1869, regular meetings were held and thoughts of building a church or chapel began to grow, as they were some four-plus miles from any house of worship. Also, the seaport resort of Westport Harbor was growing and there was no house of public worship for them. Frank Howland tried in 1869 to raise money but could get only the promise of $500, so gave up the idea, knowing that in good time the Lord would make a chapel possible.

On Jan. 10, 1872, Frank Howland called a meeting of the members and friends of the Sabbath School at the schoolhouse. At this meeting the groundwork was set to consider building a chapel at the harbor. Without knowing the source from whence would come the first dollar, a committee was appointed to view sites for the chapel and report to the next meeting with their recommendations. Volunteers to solicit subscriptions were chosen and included Frank Howland,  A.D. Manchester, James H. Sowle, Forbes Manchester, R. Howland, Darias D. Macomber, Isaac Potter, John O, Babbitt, Richmond Manchester, Gideon B. Peckham.

At that meeting of January 20, more members were accepted and the site for the chapel was selected by vote of 16-1. This was proposed Lot 2 and is where the chapel now stands. From a period description: TThis lot is situated at the southwest corner of what is known as the schoolhouse pasture opposite land belonging to Mr. Abraham Manchester, and fronts to the west upon the Main Road running to Stephen’s Neck. This land is so located that any sized lot which is thought to be desirable for the purpose proposed can be obtained. This lot is naturally dry except a very small piece in the southwest corner, which will not, in the opinion of the committee, interfere with the location of the building, or buildings or of any yard decorations which from time to time be made. The natural scenery of this lot is excellent, commanding as it does a full view of Westport Point on the east, a view of Buzzard’s Bay and adjacent islands, and Atlantic Ocean on the south, and Little Compton Commons on the west. The conditions upon which this lot can be obtained are as follows: The owner will give a warranty deed free of charge for the land for building said lot not to contain more than half an acre, with the stipulation that it shall be held for religious and moral purposes, and with the understanding that the lot will be walled within a suitable length of time.

The committee are of the opinion that owing to the natural elevation of the land, if the society voted to build at this place the lot should be nearly square.” Note: The described land belonged to Gideon B. Peckham. The Association paid $35 for this half acre.

In the deed further provisions were included, “And provided that when said chapel shall cease to be used for purposes aforesaid, the premises shall revert back to the grantor, his heirs, and Assignees, to have and hold the above granted premises, with all privileges and appurtenances thereto to said Free Chapel Association, to their use and behalf forever as aforesaid.”

This deed is recorded in Land Record Book #71 Page 267 and 268 Bristol County South Districts.


A celebration of the Acoaxet Free Chapel will be held July 23 at the chapel grounds ,with fun and games for the children, face painting and balloon animals, music by local church groups, and will conclude with a short worship service giving thanks for 150 years of continuous ministry in the Westport, Little Compton, Adamsville and Tiverton areas. For more information contact Maddy Miller at or Neil Timpson at  (603) 703-6790


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