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History of St. Andrew's by-the-Sea

St. Andrew's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church had its begin­ning in 1914 when Mrs. Joseph Wainwright, a summer resident, gave a building (one her husband had bought to use as a garage) on the ocean side of Sakonnet Point for use as a mission chapel. On August 24th of that year, St. Bartholomew's Day, the Rev. John Gardner officiated at the first celebration of Holy Communion. The mission flourished and in 1918 the original building was moved up Sakonnet Point Road to a site just north of the Stone House. The build­ing was enlarged somewhat and a belfry was added. In that year, the church was formally incorporated into the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island as an unorganized mission.


St. Andrew's by-the-Sea (circa 1915)

In 1933, a small rectory was built nearby. In 1941, the bishop of Rhode Island dedicated carved wooden tablets depicting fishermen drawing nets –so suitable to a chapel by the sea. In 1952, three additional acres next to the church and rectory were acquired for parking.


St. Andrew's by-the-Sea with Rectory  (circa 1935)

For decades the congregation flourished as a summer mission with services provided by vacationing clergy. In 1987, the congregation made the commitment to holding year-round services under the guidance of the Rev. Hebert Bolles, a retired navy chaplain. The congregation held win­ter services in the ladies parlor of the United Congregational Church and at the chapel at the point during the summer.


In 1994, St. Andrew's made the major decision to sell its Sakonnet Point property and to locate a new church near the Commons. The old chapel and its rectory were sold to the proprietors of the Stone House. The congregation purchased the former Guild Building at 182 Willow Avenue.    In 1997, St. Andrew's called the Rev. J. Daniel Burke, a former summer­time vicar who had retired as rector of St. Martin's Church in Providence, as a year-round vicar. Planning for a major renovation and restoration of the Guild Building began.   After a year of renovation, services in the renewed church began in the Spring of 1998.


Commons Guild Building (circa 1992)

Church Building.jpg

St. Andrew's by-the-Sea (today)


St. Andrew's by-the-Sea Consecration (1998)

Left to Right:  The Rev. Hebert Bolles, The Rev. Daniel Burke, Bishop Wolf,  The Rev. Peter Chase, Gerald O'Brien

In 2001, St. Andrew's by-the-Sea was admitted to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island as a full parish and the parish called its first full-time rector, The Rev. Dr. J. Gregory Prior in March of 2002.

St. Andrew's by-the-Sea celebrated the 100th anniversary of its' founding on  August 24th, 2014.

The record of that event is available here.

Posters describing our first 100 years are here.

For the 100th anniversary, a book was written to capture the unique history of St. Andrew's from the first day.

You can find more information about the book here.


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