Since 1884, the Kingston Improvement Association has paved the way to a vibrant community, helping to establish the University of Rhode Island, conserving land for public enjoyment and preserving the Village's historic character.
The Kingston Improvement Association, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, is dedicated to cultivating public spirit, promoting good fellowship, improving public health and safety, and beautifying and preserving the historic Kingston Village.
A brief History
When Kingston Village faced the challenge of a shift in local development and commerce, inspired residents joined together to found the Kingston Improvement Association (KIA) in 1884. The KIA's first projects included building sidewalks, adding shade trees, offering public events and developing fire protections. In 1888, Kingston resident and KIA member Bernon Helme led an effort to raise the funds necessary to procure the 140-acre Oliver Watson Farm, which would become the location of the state's Agricultural School and Experimental Station (now University of Rhode Island).
Through the decades, the KIA has provided many valuable services to the Village's residents and visitors. Until 1922, the KIA maintained the roads in the Village, oiling them regularly to control dust, and later fought for the addition of a traffic light at Brown's Corner. In 1933, Mary LeMoine Potter gave 65 acres of meadow and woodland, now named Potter Memorial Wood, to the KIA to be used for the sole pleasure and benefit of all the people of the Village of Kingston, which is cared for by KIA volunteers and remains open for passive recreation. During World War II, the KIA raised funds to aid the town of Kingston on Thames, England. In the 1960s, the KIA worked in partnership with the University of Rhode Island to save and restore the Fayerweather House. And with some regularity, the KIA has repaired and restored the Kingston Town Well, a victim to storms, automobiles and snowplows, and once stolen by a fraternity.
The motivating factors for the founding of the KIA in 1884 continue to guide the organization today: to preserve Kingston Village, improve the safety and welfare for its people, and promote Kingston as a historical center for public enjoyment.