Newport’s Historical Buildings and I Become a Tunnel Rat

Besides beautiful coastal scenery Newport is blessed with lots of historic buildings and neighborhoods. One of the neighborhoods called the “Point” actually has the highest concentration of colonial homes in the nation with many built in the 1700’s. It was an interesting place to stroll around. Below is a photo of one of the oldest homes which was built in 1748 and is called the Brenton Counting House.

The Old Colony House was built in 1736 and is the fourth oldest state house still standing in the U.S. It was the meeting place for the colonial legislature. A number of events during the Revolutionary War took place here including reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the building in 1774. In modern times, Steven Spielberg filmed scenes from the movie Amistad both inside and outside the building.

Newport Old Colony House from 1736

Trinity Episcopal Church was built in 1726 and is very beautiful both inside and out. It is amazing to think that the church has been in use for almost 300 years. During our travels we have been to several churches where George Washington has attended and I have sat in his box pew. The Trinity Church also has a G. Washington pew. The friendly docent at the church encouraged me to sit in his pew and wanted to take photos for me, but my smile was too goofy looking for me to allow it on the blog. A plaque at the pew also lists other famous people who have sat here including Queen Elizabeth II and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Trinity Episcopal Church built in 1726

The church has the only center aisle, free standing triple decked pulpit left in America today. During colonial times, the three levels showed the importance of the service. The bottom level was used by the lay clerk to lead singings and verbal response from the congregation. The second tier was for reading scripture and saying prayers by the minister and the top was where the sermons were preached. Since the services could be long, there are gold tipped staffs or nodding rods above the pews that were used to prod or tap those who fell asleep. That would have been embarrassing!

Free standing Triple Decked Pulpit

Newport has another house of worship with great significance. The Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building in the U.S. dating from 1763. There are tours inside the building and I would have liked to take one but did not have time.

Newport is proud of Fort Adams, a coastal fortification built in 1799 and named after President John Adams who was in office at the time. The Fort’s grounds have hosted the Newport Jazz Festival and the America’s Cup. The Fort has been active during most major wars including the War of 1812, the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II but never fired a shot in anger. Unlike other forts we have visited, the only way to see this fort was with a guided tour.

The tour took us through the officer’s quarters, up to the top of the walls for a view of Narragansett Bay and down into the tunnels. This is a large fort with many buildings but overall Mark and I did not find it as interesting as other coastal forts we have visited in the South. But the views were well worth the visit.

View of Narragansett Bay from Fort Adams

Exploring the tunnels was the most interesting part of the tour. There are several thousand feet of tunnel space that the troops used to listen for enemy soldiers that could be burrowing underneath the walls of the fort. The tunnels are not for the claustrophobic and I bet it would have been rough duty during the Fort’s active years.

Fort Adams Underground Tunnel

The tunnel passages are very narrow and I couldn’t walk upright through them. We carried flashlights to find our way in the pitch blackness. At the end of our journey we were given a “Fort Adams Tunnel Rat” sticker.

I am a Tunnel Rat

Below is a photo of the Bay next to the Fort. The beautiful tall ship to the left is the Oliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island’s official sailing school vessel. I put a close up photo of this ship in my 2018 trip highlights blog several weeks ago. When we were there, several students were working with sails and ropes out on the dock.

Mark and I visited Brenton Point State Park right along the coast and it was here that we did something we hadn’t done in many years – flew a kite. Luckily there was a mobile kite shop on site where we could get our own kite (for no small price). The winds are perfect at this park for kites, at least they were the day we visited.

When visiting a new state I like to try a few of the iconic foods there. I did some research and found out about some in Rhode Island and the list includes doughboys (a type of donut), coffee milk, clam cakes, calamari and hot weiners. While there are other iconic foods the one that seemed the most accessible was Del’s Lemonade, a frozen lemon concoction that originated in Naples in the 1840’s. I thought it was pretty refreshing. If you ever find yourself visiting Newport come to Brenton Point State Park, get yourself a Del’s Lemonade at the stand there and have fun flying a kite (save $$ by bringing your own).

See you next time!

4 thoughts on “Newport’s Historical Buildings and I Become a Tunnel Rat”

  1. Puzzled as to why you passed on the “hot wieners” since your love of the quintessential frankfurter is a lifelong indulgence. The lemon 🍋 does sound nice though !

  2. Amazing those buildings are still standing! We sat at a George Washington pew in Alexandria, very fun. Looks like a great area! I wouldn’t have passed on the hot dogs 😉

    1. Nice to hear from you Matt! I also sat in George Washington’s pew in Alexandria! But not during our RV travels, that was years ago on a different trip to Washington D.C. I loved seeing Alexandria and all the history there! Thanks for the great memory!

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