#AtoZ Stay Home! Wear a Mask! “O” is for OAK LAWN


It seemed appropriate this year to feature a theme that kept me close to home, so I give you my A to Z within the small acreage that is Rhode Island. I tried to be creative (you’ll see!) but I hope you learn something about Little Rhody, too. Whether you’ve lived here all your life, grew up within the boundaries, or have never set foot on one of our many beaches, come along for a virtual tour.

Photo by Martha Reynolds
Photo by Martha Reynolds

Oak Lawn (sometimes written as Oaklawn) is a community within the city of Cranston, and the reason I posted a photo of the church above is because this place, this church is where the oldest May Breakfast is held each year. Like the traditional May Day celebrations, an ancient festival to mark the beginning of spring, the May Breakfast is traditionally held on the first day of May. Is this a Rhode Island thing? Do you have May Breakfasts in your state?

The first May Breakfast was held in 1867, back when the Oak Lawn church was the Old Quaker Meeting House. Same spot, but it was known then as Searle’s Corner. On Thursday, May 1, 1879, fifty cents would get you hot biscuits, meats, clam cakes, and tea and coffee. These days, May Breakfasts are held across the state, not always on May 1, and usually as fundraisers. Sometimes they’re all-you-can-eat affairs. During these days of Covid-19, the traditional gatherings are put on hold, but hopefully in 2022 they’ll be back.

Across the street, the Oak Lawn Public Library has been in existence since 1889.

“It is desired that the library shall become a depository of national and local history, a supplement to the public school, and establish special departments for the use of the farmer, gardener, mechanic, student of natural history, etc.”