George II Fayerweather House
In addition to the Association's many active projects, the KIA is the owner and steward of important Village historic and recreational properties, including the George Fayerweather II House.
The Fayerweather Family
The origin of Kingston's Fayerweather family begin with George Fayerweather, a freed slave who took his name from his owner, an Episcopal minister. Upon his manumission, George Fayerweather became a blacksmith, a trade that was practiced by his son George Fayerweather II and grandsons Solomon and George III.
George Fayerweather II, the builder of the Fayerweather House, married Nancy Rodman, a descendent of Narragansett Sachem Ninigret. Together, they had twelve children, including sons Solomon and George III.
Solomon Fayerweather was a respected member of the community, serving as a sexton of the Kingston Congregational Church. As noted by former University of Rhode Island president Carl R. Woodward, “families such as the Updikes and the Fayerweathers [living] side by side as free citizens, equal before the law, in harmony and mutual respect, each rendering an essential service to the community.”
George Fayerweather III married Sarah Ann Harris of Norwich, Connecticut, a woman of color whose admission to Prudence Crandall's school resulted in the institution's forcible closure under the Black Law of 1835.
George Fayerweather's descendants now number in the hundreds, and perhaps more than one thousand. At a reunion in 2012, members of the Fayerweather family met to share genealogical research and to remember their many ancestors who called Kingston home.
The Fayerweather House
In 1820, George F. Fayerweather II built the Fayerweather House for his growing family (which eventually included 12 children) alongside his blacksmith shop. His sons Solomon and George III would later live in the home with their families, continuing to operate the family blacksmith business. During the time of George Fayerweather III and his wife Sarah Harris Fayerweather's residence in the home, Frederick Douglas was reportedly a visitor. Granddaughter Mabel Mitchell Lewis moved into the home with her sons George and Ralph in 1902. A musician remembered for sharing her talent with Kingston children, Mabel would be the last descendent of George Fayerweather to live in the house.
Arthur Perry, husband to Mabel Mitchell Lewis at the time of her death in 1946, resided in the aging home until his passing in 1962. At that time, the Fayerweather House went into joint possession of several owners, and its deterioration rapidly increased. In 1965, with much community support, the house was transferred to the Kingston Improvement Association for its preservation and use as a public space.
The KIA restored the home with the support of numerous generous funders, including the Rhode Island Foundation. The Fayerweather House restoration was successfully completed in 1966, returning the home to its original appearance.
Fayerweather House TOday
Today, the Kingston Improvement Association continues its decades of care of the Fayerweather House working in partnership with other community organizations. The Fayerweather Craft Guild, dedicated to preserving old crafts and promoting new ones, operates its shop. The Guild maintains an exhibit of Fayerweather family materials within the House, which is open to the public May through December. Throughout the year, the House's grounds are cared for by dedicated volunteers with the Kingston Hill Gardeners. In addition to the park-like gardens, the foundation of Solomon Fayerweather's blacksmith shop can seen to the east of the House.