Just off shore from Sakonnet Point are East Island, West Island and the Sakonnet Lighthouse on Little Cormorant Rock. All places with storied pasts, but help to keep to legends of Sakonnet Point to be more than just a memory.
This rugged point has seen a lot of destruction through the years and few buildings from the early days of Little Compton can be found there, unlike the area around the Commons, where 18th and 19th century buildings abound. Sakonnet Point had virtually been whipped off the map during several hurricanes in the 20th century. The first one of note, and the most destructive was in 1938. It sounds as if only two structures really survived it---The Old Stone House and the Watch House (which would be demolished later). Then there were hurricanes in 1954 and 1955. So, needless to say, the Point was often being rebuilt.
There are two things about the Point that pique my interest as a Grinnell. First is the fact that just west of the Long Pond is Grinnell Road. This is clearly named for Benjamin Grinnell's farm from the mid-19th century. Most likely he obtained this land through his wife's family the Church's.
The second area that is of interest is the Grinnell's Fishing shack, which was destroyed during the 1938 hurricane. Who was the Grinnell? Never named in any references yet. There is a picture of the Point before the devastating storm and you see that the building was one of the largest buildings there and located in the vicinity where Sakonnet Point and Maryland Roads intersect. We learn that the second floor of the "shack" is where many of the workers on the fishing boats lived during the season. On the day of the storm, ten people were hunkered down in the building in hopes of riding out the storm, but the winds and the waves were too much for the wooden building. It was blown off its foundation and into the river. Of the ten, four of the occupants were lost and never to be found. They were Al Sabin, Ebenezer Keith, and Mr. and Mrs. Vasco Souza. This loss is considered the most tragic of the storm at the Point. (I need to know more about this place!!!!)
The book is filled with many first hand accounts of living, visiting, summering, partying, and working at Sakonnet Point. Its a fast read but for those of us not familiar with the various names of Atlantic coast wildlife and fishing boat terms, keep Google handy. The volume is richly illustrated and in particular the cover art is fascinating. Both the front and back covers show a depiction of a the Point and fishing vessels by a 19th century artist that was painted on the brick wall above a mantle piece in a home in Little Compton. Simply beautiful!
Sakonnet Point Perspectives was produced as a joint project between the Friends of the Sakonnet Lighthouse, Little Compton Historical Society, and the Sakonnet Preservation Association in 2011. I purchase my copy from the LCHS for $12.00.