Fort Mansfield, Napatree Point, R.I.

Fort Mansfield was established on 60 acres of land purchased by the government on Napatree Point, R.I. in 1898. The post was subsequently abandoned in stages with all armament removed by 1917. The beachscape would be radically altered by storms within a few short decades. By the mid-1940s, the land was being preserved “for public enjoyment and conservation of nature…”


Napatree Trilogy, URI Coastal Institute

Judith Swift & Ayla Fox

For more information on the conservation efforts and education programs offered by The Watch Hill Conservancy, please visit:

Annual exhibition sponsored by:

Fort Mansfield, Napatree Point, R.I.

Janice Sassi, manager of the Napatree Point Conservation Area for The Watch Hill Conservancy, almost singlehandedly coordinated the response to requests for images and information relating to modern day Napatree Point. She not only pulled all the pieces together and answered innumerable questions about conservation activities at that location, but also was the photographer who created almost all of the vibrant color photos that were provided by The Watch Hill Conservancy. She didn’t want credit within the body of the show but has earned a huge “thank you” from me and the HLFM.

Approximately ten years ago, photographer John Leuba produced an extraordinary B/W series documenting the ruins of Battery Wooster, Fort Mansfield. Earlier this year he unhesitatingly and generously made all of them available for this exhibition. Each image that is displayed is compellingly dark and dystopian and yet somehow fantastically uplifting. His very impressive documentation of the decaying ruins was a great addition to the show. There were many other wonderful contributions: Dr. Peter V. August, who works with GIS (computer mapping) created the “see through” map overlay images that place Battery Connell offshore in the surf zone. Dr. Bryan A. Oakley and Kevin Rogers are responsible for the dramatic aerial imagery of Napatree Point’s headland, shooting from a helicopter and via drone respectively. Ayla Fox and Judith Swift produced the mind-boggling time lapse video showing the evolution over time of Napatree Point’s Sandy Point extension. Mark Berhow, a member of the Coast Defense Study Group, provided essential images and maps for this section as he and his fellow CDSG members did for all of the sections. They are truly a generous, sharing organization that deserves much credit for accumulating such a body of knowledge about coastal defense systems and having it so readily available for distribution.

Institutional sources behind the supplied imagery include the Coast Defense Study Group, National Archives and Records Administration, URI Coastal Institute and, for almost all displayed images, The Watch Hill Conservancy, an organization whose good work at Napatree Point is on display throughout the entire Fort Mansfield section of the exhibition.

With one last collective “thanks” to all who helped on the Fort Mansfield section, I’ll state the obvious: We couldn’t have done it without you!

Pierce Rafferty,
Henry L. Ferguson Museum

Beth Jepsen of Insite Design LLC, New London, Conn., is responsible for both the website design and the exhibit design. Thank you!