02 October 2009

Jerusalem, Rhode Island 3

Judy Grant who lives with her husband Al in Jerusalem, Rhode Island, tells
How Jerusalem Got Its Name
In 1902, the story goes, Thomas Mann a fisherman from Nova Scotia who had settled here, felt the village that had sprung up with its fishing shacks should be called Galilee after the fishing village of biblical times. One day, an old timer sat on the docks repairing his nets when a stranger called out to him, "Where am I?" The answer was "Galilee." "And what is that?" the stranger asked pointing to the other side of the channel. The old timer thought for a minute, nodded his head and replied, "Must be Jerusalem!" And so the names of Galilee and Jerusalem have been used since to denote a most picturesque part of Rhode Island.

Views of the Block Island ferry navigating through Galilee Channel in summer and winter. Photographed from the Jerusalem home of Al and Judy Grant. Judi Grant wrote: "My husband Al and I live in the village of Jerusalem year round. We heard about your project through an article written in our local paper - The South County Independent. The photos of the Block Island ferry were taken at our home looking over to the Port of Galilee. Rhode Island has four seasons and whether its winter, spring, summer or fall each season brings a sense of contentment and well being within our community. It is truly a remarkable place. I've attached another photo [below] - it was on the outside of our home when we purchased it years ago. The man that built the house in 1945 placed it on the chimney. Now the way to get to Jerusalem is by way of Galilee passing through Jericho. Was this the original owners way of saying this was his little slice of heaven?"Perhaps Jerusalem, RI, isn't all a "little slice of heaven."
Karl Hartman of Kingston, RI, sent me the following news item from the South County Independent of July 30, 2009:

New signs discourage public access in village of Jerusalem
By Mark N. Schieldrop/Independent Staff Writer

JERUSALEM - Despite recently installing an electronic gate blocking vehicular access to Beach Row, the president of the Kenyon Condominium Association, which owns the majority of land in the small seaside village, said this week that association members will not block or turn away people from walking past the gate to access the shore.

"We don't stop people from going to the beach," said James E. Monti Jr., president of the association. "The issue is driving. We don't want unauthorized drivers going up the road. They don't belong there, they don't live there, it's a private road and they have no right to go down there unless they live there or are renting."

Beach access and parking in the village of Jerusalem has been a contentious issue for years. For generations, the village of Jerusalem was a humble, isolated slice of Narragansett on Point Judith Pond. The village, which is accessed through South Kingstown, is comprised of tiny cottages dotting a barrier beach. Tourists and locals alike come to swim, fish and eat at Jim's Dock and Skip's Dock.

But in recent years, like many coastal communities caught in a wave of skyrocketing real estate prices, those Jerusalem cottages have steadily turned into much larger, sometimes-dominating structures. And a parking lot owned by the association, which used to serve up to 150 cars, has been closed to visitors and reserved for association members, save a few dozen spots for customers of Jim's Dock and Skip's Dock.

This all has made it harder for people to find a place to park and wander around the small village. And when people do find spots, some lament the gradual transition that has taken place in the community. In 2006, then-Town Council President T. Brian Handrigan accused the association of trying to turn Jerusalem into a private, Kennedyesque compound and deter people from even visiting in the first place.

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