In the picturesque town of Newport, Rhode Island, nestled in a manicured park surrounded by stately mansions, resides a Mystery Ruin.
My first awareness of the Newport Tower was through some television shows depicting the suspicious nature of its existence, and possible alternative history involving Viking, Knights Templars, and let’s throw in some UFO stuff while we’re at it. It might be a remnant of a holy site / church. It might be a water tower. Is it a landing pad for UFOs?
The suggestions for this tower are as wild as your imagination can handle. Years ago, my sister and I added this tower to our \”To Do\” list.
There are allegations this structure has celestial significance. Some are suggesting it is a Templar temple structure with intentionally built-in designs that are aligned with Venus. Supposedly built mid-17th century or before Columbus’ arrival (depending on the sources your read), this tower seemed like a gem of a mystery. Who wouldn’t want to see such a mystery in person? I know I did.
While on our New Bedford road trip, we stopped by Newport just to see what there was to see. We ended up discovering and exploring the Cliff Walk. We were having so much fun exploring the walk that we remained completely oblivious that the infamous Newport Tower was only a block away. A single block! Oblivious, we returned to our hotel without seeing the tower.
While we are packing our bags and preparing to leave the next day, my sister checked her phone for interesting things she would like to see during our long drive back home. Suddenly she bursts out with a cuss and tells me that we missed the Newport Tower! Thank goodness my sister used Google Maps to save interesting places, otherwise we would have missed our opportunity while we were in the area.
Who needs sleep?
We were so close that there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity! We had a very long drive back to Philadelphia, so we made a plans to get up an hour earlier and add a stop in Newport. My friend, who didn’t care about the tower, just rolled her eyes upon hearing that her sleep was being robbed. But she’s a good sport and didn’t complain once.
I, however, was complaining the next morning about my own plans. I was up and packing the car before dawn. In the dark. In the rain. I was feeling melodramatic. But this wasn’t going to stop us. Rain or shine, we were going to see this tower.
We headed straight for the tower. No, wait. That\’s wrong. We headed straight to the nearest open coffee shop and purchased large coffees. Then we headed straight for the tower. We arrived just as the rising sun was struggling to break through the grey clouds. My sister and I ventured out into the drizzle as Carol slept in the back of the car.
Most Suburban Park… Ever
It was a very anticlimactic adventure. This humble (and small) tower is nestled in a tidy and orderly park. Touro park is a manicured garden surrounded by stately and historic homes. You would sooner expect to see moms pushing a pram through the park than discover a controversial ruin. Yet there it was, stout and plain. In the rain it looked blue-grey speckled with tan and green. It is ringed by a 4’5” iron gate and a cement path. You can easily walk up to the gate and study the tower.
There is zero adventure involved. The tower’s provenance would suggest it should be in a place more Viking-ish. Or Templar-ish. Perhaps nestled on the cliff’s edge? Near crashing waves of the angry see? Or with celestial markings? Or located deep in the grassy field surrounded by ruin and rubble?
Shouldn’t something with such controversial claims be more… something?
We stood there looking at the tower and feeling underwhelmed with the experience. It doesn’t look controversial. It doesn’t look like a church nave. It doesn’t look anything weird.
Remembering some points from a few TV shows I watched, I searched for the tell-tale Easter Egg stone which supposedly gets painted in sunlight during the winter solstice. Although I wasn’t visiting anywhere near either Solstice event, I couldn’t readily locate any rock that was distinctive enough to claim it was the Easter Egg Stone. I think I photographed the rock that might be the egg – but honestly I’m guessing.
Windmill v. Templar clues?
IMO, the tower looks like the base of a windmill. It looks perfectly normal. One could even say it looks familiar and common.
It lacks the torrid intrigue of a supposedly Venus-aligned, cult-designed structure. If I’m going to add insult to injury… the tower looks like it could be an accent structure the local (rich) garden club would have erected to add substance to their flower beds.
Ouch. Am I being too critical of the tower? Perhaps my expectations are to blame. If this structure was purposefully built to point to different locations, there is no information on the planetary, star or Earthly geographical alignments. And despite the mystery that is being tossed about this tower, there is enough historical information that pops all Crypto-Tourism balloons.
I will leave the mystery of the Newport Tower for your own research and review. Check out the various claims and theories. See what the Newport Tower Museum has to say about the tower. The Wikipedia page is also very informative, with helpful images of comparable towers.
Make sure to read the scientific articles that provide some evidence about the tower’s history, date testing, and their claim that it is the foundation of a windmill. Tests and research has been performed on this tower that will help remove all of the mystery and give you a great appreciation for history. For example: how did someone manage to build anything that can withstand New England storms for centuries? That\’s impressive!
Viewing the tower takes no more than ten to fifteen minutes. So we opted to explore Touro park and surrounding area before leaving. Across the street I found a tiny storefront museum and shop dedicated to the tower. It was closed at this ridiculous early hour and I regret I wasn’t able to visit. We all know how much I like my mini-museums.
The park is beautiful and stately. There are some elegant, mature trees as well as manicured flower beds. At one spot, we found a spray painted twister game in the grass, under a stately tree. I can only imagine kids playing twister in the summer months, in the shade of this lovely tree. What a clever and fun way to engage kids with playing outdoors!
Nearby the tower is a statue dedicated to Channing. A quick google search told me that this was William Ellery Channing. He is a minister in the Unitarian Church in Boston but was born in Newport. So local Newportians dedicated a statue in his honor, which faces the Channing Memorial Unitarian Church.
Commodore Matthew Perry
While exploring Touro Park we came upon a monument dedicated to Matthew Perry. I can admit that I wasn’t familiar with Matthew Perry\’s name at first glance. Standing before the statue I knew immediately he was a military officer by the statue itself, but I had to read the dedication to get an idea of this man. Directly under the statue is carved text reading “…with Japan 1854”. Below this text was a weathered bas-relief depicting Perry and people for Japan. So I started to stroll around the statue.
The bas-reliefs depict Perry in Africa (1843), Mexico (1846) and a Treaty with Japan (1854). Wow! Commodore Perry got around! He is a very interesting historical figure. He’s been nearly everywhere on the globe: the Mediterranean, Africa, West Indies, Russia, the Florida Keys, Sandy Hook, Mexico, and Japan. I’m pretty sure I may have left some items out. That’s quite the life. What I didn’t know was that he is called the Father of the Steam Navy and planted the flag that claimed the Florida Keys for the USA.
Japanese Sister City
Nearby Perry\’s monument is a Japanese stone lantern, which I assume was dedicated due to the treaty Perry signed with Japan. But I later learned that Newport is a sister city of Shimoda, Japan – and the park celebrates cherry trees and this stone lantern to commemorate Perry’s trade and treaty deals.
Huh. That’s is a bit of history I didn’t appreciate until I stopped by Touro Park. Thank you Newport Tower for bringing me to this park and helping me find a wealth of history I wasn’t aware existed. Now I know what the ‘Black Ships Festival’ and Japanese Societies have in common.
While I stood in the park googling Perry, Black Ships, and Japanese history in Newport – the rain started to grow more intense. We gave up our googling and wandering in Touro park and headed back to the car. Carol was still asleep. 🙂
Newport – who knew?
I wasn\’t planning on visiting and touring Newport, so I didn\’t do my typical research. I had no idea how much was nestled in this town, including some of the most ridiculously large and beautiful mansions! I\’ll have to come back one day and tour this town properly. If you decide to visit Newport – be sure to swing by Touro Park. Not only does it have an underwhelming tower, you also find historical buildings surrounding the park, the Commodore Perry monument, and the Newport Tower museum. Unlike me, I hope you have more time to enjoy this park and its quirky history lessons it has to share.
And be sure to visit the famous Cliff Walk!