The Barrington Preservation Society wants to protect the historic Nockum Hill area of Barrington from too much development by making it a National Historic Landmark Site.
To launch this venture, the preservation society proposes that a “stakeholders workshop” be held with the Town of Barrington “within 60 days to discuss permanent recognition, preservation and protection of Nockum Hill,” according to the preservation society.
The preservation society also is holding a tour of Nockum Hill on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 4 pm to pinpoint the historic area. It will start at the “John Myles monument where George Street takes a sharp left,” said Burton Edwards, a historian with the preservation society.
Charlotte Sornberger, a preservation society member perhaps best known for her protection of the Diamondback terrapins that live in Hundred Acre Cove, will lead the tour, Edwards said.
Making Nockum Hill a “landmark site” appears to be the most feasible option for protecting the area from development, the society believes. But the BPS also throws out the possibility of creating a Nockum Hill State Park or a Nockum Hill National Park.
Making the area a “landmark site,” however, would not require the society to purchase any of the land, according to the proposal.
The size of the “landmark site” also has not yet been determined, according to the BPS proposal.
“But the site of the destroyed Nockum Hill Meeting House, which appears to be directly across from the proposed development or on the parcel of the proposed development, would be the natural central point of such a site,” according to the BPS proposal.
National Historic Landmarks are defined as “Buildings, Sites, Districts, Structures and Objects that have been designated by the Secretary of the Interior of national significance in American history or culture,” according to the preservation society proposal.
The John Myles monolith recognizes the founding of the First Baptist Church in Massachusetts in 1663 on land that was then Sowams tribal territory, now part of Barrington.
“Of the first meeting house site, Nockum Hill, the granite monolith with its memorial plaque, is all that is left to honor Rev. John Myles, theologian, pioneer and advocate of religious toleration,” according to the BPS proposal.
To designate a potential “landmarks site” with multiple owners … the majority of owners must approve the potential NHL Site proposal,” according to the BPS proposal.
“This is important as major portions of Nockum Hill are owned by: the Town of Barrington, the Barrington Cemetery Commission, the Barrington Land Conservation Trust, The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, 4-Town Farm, and eleven other private owners,” the BPS proposal says. Thus, the need for airing the proposal at a stakeholders' meeting.