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O’CONNOR aka “East & West Island”

Historic Site Scenic Wildlife Habitat

The O’Connor Property is comprised of two rocky offshore islands (West Island & East Island) located approximately 0.25 miles south of Sakonnet Point.

Note: A detailed early history of the islands was printed in the Summer 2001 SPA newsletter, and is referenced here.  See also ‘Ghosts of Sakonnet’ in Offshore magazine, April 2007.

As stated in this watersports blog, the islands have a rich history of use for fishing and recreation.  Early deeds indicate that West Island was owned by Andrew Seabury, a local fisherman, before being purchased by the West Island Association in 1853 for the purpose of organizing a club for fishing and relaxation by an elite group of prominent professional men.  East Island was also inhabited, and had a small dwelling on it when it was purchased by the West Island Club in 1875.

The West Island Club operated until 1906.  In 1908, Joseph Wainwright (a former member of the Club) purchased both islands; they were passed on to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island upon his death, but were deemed unsuitable for church purposes and abandoned.  A Newporter, Marion Eppley purchased the islands in 1929, but all the buildings were burned to the ground by arsonists that summer.  The Hurricane of 1938 swept away all remaining debris and a fair amount of topsoil.  In 1949, Marion Eppley sold “the two islands known as East and West Island” to Jessie Lloyd O’Connor for one dollar.

An examination of periodic aerial photography dating back to 1939 shows the islands in a very similar condition to what is found there today.  The stone corners and chimney of the West Island Club are all that remains on West Island today.

This property was donated by Jessie Lloyd O’Connor on February 18, 1983.

Total Acreage:

Restriction Type:
Fee Simple

Date Completed:
February 6, 1983

Conservation Values:
public access, wildlife habitat, recreational area, scenic vista

Property Type:

Public Property
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