RI.gov R.I. Government Agencies | Privacy Policy |

Heritage Programs: Subcommittees: Cape Verdean Hall Of Fame 2005

Manuel MartinReverend Manuel Ricardo Martin

Manuel Ricardo Martin was born on the Island of Maio in 1837 and came to Providence, Rhode Island in 1886.  Martin was brought to the New England coast by returning whalers.  He had been a ship’s mate and in charge of the stevedores on the dock.  He had been converted to the Protestant faith while working aboard a ship in Australia years earlier. 

Soon after his arrival in America, Martin began to conduct a worship service in his rented room.  He reached out to the Rhode Island Bible Society, which responded with material support for what would come to be known as the  “Portuguese Mission”.  The first meeting place was on Chickenfoot Alley, the oldest Cape Verdean immigrant community in the Fox Point section of Providence. 

As his “congregation” grew he located a larger room on South Water Street and placed a sign in the window “Gospel Mission”.  Women and children began to join the mission.  Eventually the mission church operated “Americanization” classes, sewing classes, a boxing club and even a Boy Scout troop. 

Local Protestant women’s organization and the Union Congregational Church joined in to help with the work of the Mission.  With the aid of the Central Congregational Church, a parcel of land was secured and a building was constructed at 51 Sheldon Street in 1904. Manuel Ricardo Martin established the very first Cape Verdean Protestant Congregation in the United States.

On December 5, 1905 Manuel Ricardo Martin passed.  In 1996 the building at 51 Sheldon Street was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Buildings.   Reverend Martin is remembered on a bronze plague affixed to the pulpit of his church.