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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Maxwell

Independence Day and Newport

Did you know Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce their alligience to King George and declare independence from England? It's hardly surprising when you consider the colony was founded by religious dissenters with radical notions of tolerance and a keen sense of independence. That's why Newport is home to so many diverse houses of faith, including the Great Friends Meeting House, built in 1699, and Turo Synogogue, built in 1763. But the Revolution was particularly hard on Newport. Three years of British occupation brought a crashing halt to the once thriving international trade and mercantile economy. Half the population had fled for the mainland, and a signficant number of houses and buildings were razed for firewood to keep the British soldiers warm during the winters. When the war ended, Newport was forced to reinvent itself, and did so as a resort for southerners escaping the summer heat. The face of the city would change drastically from then on. But let's take a look at what Newport looked like in the 18th Century.

The White Horse Tavern was built in 1673, used continuously to the present day. Great food!

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum, 1750. My husband and I are proud to be library members.

Vernon House, Clarke Street, used as a headquarters by Rochambeau and French forces.

Hunter House, Washington Street, circa 1750s. Originally the house was only half its size, a parlor, kitchen, and two bedrooms upstairs, to the right of what is now the front door. The original entrance was on the side facing us. (owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County)

My husband's grandfather on the steps of Hunter House, circa 1950s (I think) - An American Patriot!

Artillery Company of Newport, Clarke Street. Received its charter from King George II in 1741. My husband's grandfather was a longtime curator.

Brick Market, circa 1760s, which houses the Newport Historical Society museum and shop.

Beautiful Trinity Church, Episocpal, 1726. It has the only center-aisle, freestanding pulpit left in America (this was once a common feature of colonial churches).

I hope you enjoyed a quick look back at Colonial Newport. How did you celebrate the Fourth of July? Tell me in a comment below, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of MURDER AT CHATEAU SUR MER (U.S. residents only, due to shipping charges.) A winner will be chosen on Saturday, July 8th.

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