Town of Charlestown Rhode Island Community Profile


Incorporated in 1738, the first 230 years of Charlestown’s history can be accurately portrayed as that of a typical small New England town. However, starting in the 1970’s the Town of Charlestown began slowly maturing into a suburban bedroom community as well as a haven for vacationers and retirees providing many recreational opportunities.

The Town is a seaside community located in the southwest portion of Rhode Island. It encompasses 36 square miles of land, six miles of inland water and approximately six miles of coastline along Block Island Sound. The Town is a physically diverse community with flourishing beach colonies, unique village centers, and large tracts of open space.

The Town is a perennial vacation and tourist location offering exceptional swimming, camping, and fishing opportunities. Consequently, for the traditional summer season, the Town’s population swells to almost 30,000 with seasonal inhabitants.

Charlestown’s year-round population, according to the year 2020 census, increased to 7,997 residents from 7,827. Further, the 2020 census figures indicated that of the 7,997 residents, there are 1,903 residents age 65 and older, accounting for almost 24% of total year-round residents.

The Town’s economic base has two elements. The first relates to the annual upward swing of commercial activity in the tourist season while the second deals more directly with the substantial number of seasonal homes along the Atlantic coast. Inevitably, both are ascribable to the Town’s unique geographic location and recreational facilities.

The Town of Charlestown has operated under a Council-Administrator government since November 1980. Pursuant to the Town Charter and subject only to the limitations imposed by the State Constitution, all powers of the Town, except those vested in the Financial Town Meeting, are vested in the Town Council, the governing body. The Council determines policies, enacts laws, and appoints the Town Administrator. The Administrator executes the laws and controls the government under the authority of the Council. The Council consists of five members, elected at large. They serve a term of two years. The Town government relies on the voluntary participation of its citizens sharing their expertise on Boards, Commissions, and committees.


Charlestown Chamber of Commerce:

The following information is located on their website: “Charlestown is the best kept secret in Rhode Island. Charlestown offers travelers an alternative to the hustle and bustle of fast paced urban life. With miles of coastline, Charlestown is the place for swimming, boating, sailing, wind surfing, and beachcombing. In its wildlife refuges, parks and ponds, travelers also can enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, exploring, and bird watching.” Charlestown Chamber



The Town is a member of the “Chariho Regional School District” which was established in 1958, the first fully regionalized K-12 district in the State. Hopkinton and Richmond are the other communities served by the district. The District consists of four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. Enrollment as of October 2022 was 3,174 students with Charlestown’s student count at 731.


Town Stats, Facts & Figures

A statistical revaluation was recently completed in 2022 and revaluations mailed in March 2023. The property values established will be reflected in the July 2023 tax bills. The Grand List valuation at the date of revaluation was $4,226,659,378 with the projected tax rate being $5.71 and it remains one of the lowest tax rates in the State of Rhode Island.

The Charlestown Fire District was formed through legislation in 1974. The District was given the authority to provide for fire protection and other emergencies in the portion of the Town not covered by the Dunn's Corners Fire District. Prior to that time fire protection in this area was provided by the Charlestown-Richmond Volunteer Fire Association and the Cross Mills Volunteer Fire Department. These two departments have been in existence since 1928 and 1938 respectively and continue today as fire companies of the District. The District is governed by a five member Board of Engineers elected by the District taxpayers. The Board of Engineers appoint a fire chief and assistant chief(s), treasurer, tax collector, clerk, moderator, a three-member board of canvassers, and a three member board of assessors. The District holds monthly business meetings and an annual meeting in August. CFD Website

Charlestown Rescue is a volunteer, quasi-public, community-based public health service that provides and manages the integrated pre-hospital care system for the Town. They provide basic and advanced life support, ambulance transportation, medical incident command, community education, technical rescue services, and special event coverage. Charlestown Rescue Link

In 2021, the Town conducted a Town wide Survey that asked residents about several aspects regarding living in the community, such as “Quality of Life, Town Services and Facilities, Government Performance, Priorities for Planning,” and other topics, and reported the results in October 2021 at a Council meeting with the full results posted on the Town website. Survey Results


Unique Community Assets:

Charlestown owes much of its identity to the unparalleled caliber of its historical and recreational amenities. The Town boasts of a vast collection of federal, state, local and non-profit facilities intended to both preserve and provide public access to open space.

The Town owns and operates:
a) Charlestown Town Beach
b) Blue Shutters Beach
c) Pawaget Park with its cove and coastal lagoon
d) Ninigret Park with:

     a.) Professional bike course
     b.) Walking trails
     c.) Basketball, Tennis and Pickleball courts
     d.) Soccer & Softball fields
     e.) Playground
     f.) Disc Golf course
     g.) Fresh & Saltwater access
     h.) Dog Park
     i.) Festival area for large and small events (i.e. Seafood Festival & Rhythm & Roots)
     j.) Ninigret Community/Senior Center
     k.) Wicklund and Columbia Parks
     l.) School House Pond
    m.) South Farm
    n.) Carter Preserve


Other significant recreational facilities include:

a) US Fish & Wildlife Refuge Area, Kettle Pond Visitors’ Center
b) Burlingame State Park
c) East Beach-Ninigret Conservation Area
d) Quonochontaug Breachway
e) Kimball Wildlife Refuge
f) Carter Preserve
g) Charlestown Conservation Commission Links to trails


Other significant educational and historic sites/resources include:

a) Charlestown Naval Airfield Memorial Memorial Link
b) Cross Mills Library
c) Frosty Drew Observatory Frosty Drew
d) Charlestown Historical Society


Narragansett Indian Tribal Government

The Narragansett Settlement Land of 1,800 acres is in Charlestown. The Narragansetts provide tribal self-governance and management of their lands, consistent with the Settlement Agreement with the State of Rhode Island.






Adopted: May 23, 2023