I decided to write a piece on the top ten historical attractions in Newport RI to assist our guests if time is short. Most if not all of these landmarks are within walking distance of the Marshall Slocum Inn and/or have free ample parking. Although there are significantly more than 10 historical landmarks we decided to offer a top ten list to guide our guests when visiting Newport. For those guests who are staying longer at the bed and breakfast there are many more places and sites to see than these ten.
- The Breakers – The Breakers is undoubtably the most famous tourist attraction in Newport RI for domestic and international visitors. Completed in 1895, The Breakers is a concrete example of the Vanderbilt families exorbant wealth derived from, amongst other things, the New York Central Railroad. This National Historic Landmark consists of 70 rooms adorned with rare marble, alabaster, and gilded woods. Perhaps the most enjoyable feature of the Breakers are the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the historic Cliff Walk.
- Touro Synagogue – The Touro Synagogue is the quintessential example of Roger Williams’s promotion of religious tolerance and could be a main topic of why Rhode Island is it’s own state. Completed in 1763, the Synagogue became the first accepted active place of worship in the United States for Jewish persons. During the British occupation of Newport RI the synagogue survived burning due to it’s usefulness to the British troops as a hospital and meeting place. Recently, a beautiful new visitors center was completed giving tourists a great resource to learn about Judah Touro and his followers.
- The Marble House – Inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles, the Marble House is the other grand property of the Vanderbilt family. The house is ordained with gold and marble throughout which architect, Richard Morris Hunt, intended to be a statement of wealth during the infamous Gilded Age. Alva Vanderbilt, the properties owner, held her “Votes for Women” rallies at the mansion as part of her lifelong commitment to women’s rights.
- Rough Point – Rough Point is the home of Doris Duke, heiress and art collector who turned her good fortune into a life’s work in philanthropy. Most of Duke’s fortune came from the tobacco plantations owned by her family and she is said to have donated up to $400 million throughout her lifetime. Her philanthropic legacy continues today throughout the City of Newport by means of the Newport Restoration Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation.
- National Museum of American Illustration – The National Museum of American Illustration is perhaps the most under visited and cautiously marketed attraction in Newport. Located at Vernon Court, a Gilded Age mansion on Bellevue Avenue, the building hosts the first national museum devoted exclusively to American illustration art, featuring Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parish, JC Leyendecker, NC Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, and 150 other artists.
- The Elms – A personal favorite of the staff at the Inn, The Elms was completed in 1901 as a summer retreat for coal magnate Edward Berwin and his wife Herminie. Features of the house include modern amenities that were unheard of at the time as well as floor to ceiling artwork and tapestries. Perhaps the best part of the Elms preservation is the behind the scenes tour where visitors can see the staff living quarters, boiler room, laundry room, kitchen, and the secret roof deck with expansive views of Newport and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Fort Adams – Situated in a strategic location overlooking Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams is a unique example of coastal defense systems utilized pre Revolutionary War up to World War II. Visitors can take a guided tour of the interior of the fort, the many underground tunnels, and the amazing overlook posts with 360 degree views of Aquidneck Island and Narragansett Bay. Fort Adams is also home to the Jazz and Folk Festivals which occur each summer in Newport.
- The Newport Mill – The Newport Mill is located in beautiful Touro Park and is thought to be the oldest remaining structure in Newport. There is no confusion about it’s usage from the 18th century onward but the debate rages on as to the buildings origin and purpose. Some theories point to an astronomical tool and others to an observatory for the Chinese. In a document of 1741 the tower is described as “the old stone mill” an d in 1760 the Tower was used as a haymow. During the American Revolution, the tower was used by the Americans as a lookout, and by the British to store ammo.
- The Cliff Walk – Other than the Breakers the Cliff Walk is perhaps the number one tourist attraction in Newport. Although there is not a lot of historical facts associated with the walk it offers too many beautiful scenic views and has been around since the Gilded Age to be left off this list. The 3.5 mile walk was used by the Vanderbilts and all their wealthy neighbors on walks to Easton’s Beach. In 1975 the walk was designated as a National Historic Trail, the first in New England.
- Washington Square – Two of Colonial America’s most significant structures are located at either end of Washington Square, the Colony House and the Brick Market. Built in 1741, the Colony House is one of the best maintained surviving Georgian buildings in the United States. The stately building was used for the colonial legislature during the fight for independence. Another example of classic Georgian architecture is the Brick Market built in 1762. The traditional open first level served as a marketplace for trading, much like Fanueil Hall in Boston.
The fabulous weather and busy bustle in town is a sure sign that summer has arrived in Newport, Rhode Island!
This weekend brings a host of activities and things to see on the island. Here at Marshall Slocum Inn we are excited for our guests to experience all Newport has to offer on this holiday weekend!
Thursday, July 1st, marks the return of the America’s Cup trophy to Newport. Whether it’s getting an up-close look at the oldest trophy in international sport, savoring a parade of majestic racing yachts, attending lunch with some of the top names in sailing or viewing a presentation by the winning America’s Cup team at historic Fort Adams, visitors are guaranteed an unforgettable experience here in the City-by-the-Sea on Thursday. The America’s Cup trophy will be available during four public showings between Fort Adams and downtown Newport throughout the day. Viewing is free of charge.
This weekend is also Fourth of July! Newport has many ways to celebrate our country on this holiday weekend. What would an Independence Day celebration be without fireworks? Newport Harbor will be all lit up on Sunday, July 4th, at around 9:15pm. Prime viewing spots can be had at Long Wharf and Battery Park, but the fireworks will be seen from all over downtown!
There will also be lots of fun before the fireworks hit the skies! Celebrate “A Traditional Patriotic Newport Fourth of July” from 9am-2pm with activities all over town. At 9am, the Artillery Company of Newport marches to the grave of William Ellery, Rhode Island’s signer of the Declaration of Independence. Also at 9am, is a self-guided walking tour of the 1810 4th of July Parade route which began and ended in Washington Square. At 10am, listen to the Newport Community Band play patriotic tunes! At 10:30am, a “People’s Parade” from Long Wharf to Washington Square. There are many other activities including a reading of the Declaration of Independence, a cannon salute, community picnics, dancing, and pie eating contests in Washington square from 11am-2pm!
Last year, the City of Newport, announced a goal of seeking the nomination for Newport, Rhode Island to become a World Heritage Site. Newport, Rhode Island is ripe with historic buildings and history and amongst these historic buildings are many Rhode Island bed and breakfasts that have been painstakingly restored and maintained.
Our bed and breakfast, The Marshall Slocum Inn, qualifies as one of these historic Newport Rhode Island Inn’s due to it’s age of construction and designation as an “Historical Property.”
The Marshall Slocum Inn was built in 1855 by Marshall Slocum and his wife Catherine. Catherine had a deep connection with Newport as one of her descendants was a founder. The house was only used by the Slocum’s for 10 years but their mark was made on the neighborhood with classical mid 1800’s colonial architecture featuring elaborate moldings, grand windows, tall ceilings, and large rooms. For more information on the continued history of the Inn visit our Historic Newport Rhode Island Inn page. The Slocum’s also selected an area of downtown Newport known now as the Top of the Hill District. This District is historic in nature with mid 1800’s houses dotting the area and the historic hill area and town center just a block away from the Inn.
One of the most important developments in Newport’s recent history was the establishment of the Newport Preservation Society.
The Preservation Society has played a crucial role in upholding and progressing Newport’s Historic status. Along with their preservation of the mansions came a large influx of tourism and, of course, tourists who needed rooms. Space is limited in the New England region so hotel development is difficult and expensive which has led the way for bed and breakfasts to flourish in the area. In Newport, this has resulted in the preservation of many buildings that otherwise would have gone into disrepair. Our historic Newport Rhode Island Inn was transformed into a bed and breakfast in the 1970’s and as the third owners of the Inn we are doing our part to preserve the heritage and history of this wonderful downtown property.