Old Stone Mill

Introduction

 

Many people may have never heard of Newport's mysterious Stone Tower, known locally to Rhode Islanders as the Old Stone Mill. For Newporters the Stone Tower, situated off historic Bellevue Avenue in Touro Park, needs no introduction and, indeed, those who know it may have taken the Tower's presence for granted. But how many people are aware that a controversy has surrounded the Old Stone Mill for centuries? Numerous theories regarding the Tower’s origin have been proposed, studied, supported, and discounted by countless people. 

 

In an attempt to provide a framework for the controversy, this Finding Aid presents a selection of materials about the Old Stone Mill. It is in no way meant to be all inclusive nor does it take a stance on one particular theory over another. To simplify the search for information, the Finding Aid is divided into five sections: Norse Theory, Colonial and/or Arnold Theory, Additional Theories, Newspaper Stories, and Literature and Music. 

 

Over time the two main theories concerning the origins of the Stone Tower have continued to be the Norse Theory and the Colonial/Arnold Theory. Therefore, materials supporting these theories have been listed in their own separate sections. Neutral histories of the Stone Tower and a wide variety of origin theories can be found under Additional Theories. The section Newspaper Stories demonstrates Newport's never-fading interest in the site. The Literature and Music section lists literary works and a musical composition pertaining to the Tower. A representative sampling of literary and non-fiction texts about the Old Stone Mill as well as a selection of images – from artistic renderings (both accurate and inaccurate) to photographs and post cards – complete the Finding Aid.

 

The print version of this publication is available from Redwood Library, and we invite you to purchase copies for your library, as gifts, and for schools. Should additional materials about the Old Stone Mill be brought to our attention, they will be included as this website is updated. Please contact us via e-mail redwood@redwoodlibrary.org 

 

This Finding Aid is for everyone with an interest in art, architecture, culture, civilization, and history. Scholars, researchers, the casual tourist, and the novice historian are sure to find materials listed here that will encourage further exploration into a fascinating and provocative topic.

I.M.H. and C.-A.G.

 

Researcher Ingrid M. Hattendorf
Editor, Hard Copy Design and Layout, Additional Research Christian-Albrecht Gollub
Stone Mill Site Design Myles Byrne
Project Managers Marilyn D. Curtis, Cheryl V. Helms
For their assistance during the preparation of the manuscript, special thanks to

Robert Behra

Lynda Bronaugh

Linda Gordon

Maris Humphreys

This publication is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

© 1998 Redwood Library and Athenaeum

Norse Theory

The following references support a Norse origin of Newport's Old Stone Mill:

 


 

Allen, David B. "The Newport Tower: A New Dialogue." New England Antiquities Research Association Journal, 15, no. 4 (Spring 1981): 103-106. 

 

Anderson, Rasmus B. America Not Discovered by Columbus. Chicago, Griggs & Co.,1874. 

 

Boland, Charles Michael. They All Discovered America. New York: Doubleday, 1961. 

 

Davis, Asahel. Antiquities of America. Boston, 1848. 

 

Enterline, James Robert. Viking America: The Norse Crossings and Their Legacy, 151, 154. New York: Doubleday, 1972. 

 

Fell, Barry. Saga America, 373-376. New York: Times Books, 1980. 

 

Flifett, Thorleif. "A Layman Looks at Newport Tower." Nordisk Tidenede, 14 May 1949.  Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. 

 

Hatfield, R.G. "The Old Mill at Newport, A New Study of an Old Puzzle." Scribner's Monthly 17 (March 1879): 632-641. 

 

Hedgcorth, William D. "Longfellow Poem Suggests Origin of the Stone Tower." Newport Daily News, 2 March 1996. 

 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. "The Visit of the Vikings." Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (September 1882): 515-528. 

 

Holand, Hjalmar R. America 1355-1364, 3-132. New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearce, 1946.

---------- "The Origin of the Newport Tower." Rhode Island History 7, no. 3 (July 1948): 65-73.  *Holand's article is a response to Kenneth Conant's article, "Newport Tower or Mill." Rhode Island History 5 (January 1948). Refer to Kenneth Conant in the Additional Theories section. 

---------- "The Newport Tower: Norse or English? The Measurements Give the Answer." The American Scandinavian Review (Autumn 1949): 230-236. 

---------- "The Newport Mystery." Rhode Island History 12, no. 2 (April 1953): 55-62. 

---------- "The Newport Mystery II." Rhode Island History 12, no. 3 (July, 1953): 83-89. 

 

Lawton, Herbert A. Historic Newport, 11-13. Newport Chamber of Commerce, 1933. 

 

Limmer, Edward F. "The Old Stone Mill of Newport, R. I., A New Perspective." Aug. 27 1986. Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. 

 

Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution. Vol. 2, 65-67. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851-1852.  *The title page states that the volumes have "several hundred engravings on wood, by Lossing and [William] Barritt, chiefly from original sketches by the author." Click here to see engraving.

 

Mallery, Arlington H. Special Interim Report of an Examination of the Newport Tower and its Previous History, October 1955. Unpublished report in the Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. 

---------- "The Pre-Columbian Discovery of America: A Reply to W. S. Godfrey." American Anthropologist 60, no. 1 (February 1958): 141-151. 

 

Pantalone, John. "Our Mystery Tower," Newport This Week, 28 April 1994: 10. 

 

Penhallow, William S. and Michael J. Brennan. "Archaeoastronomy of the Old Stone Tower," 1991. Manuscript on file at the Newport Historical Society. Published by the Department of Physics, University of Rhode Island, Kingston. 

 

Perry, J. Tavenor. "The Scandinavian Tower of Newport, R. I., USA." Antiquary 9 (1913): 463-465. 

 

Phelan, Nick. "Group Adds New Grist to Old Mill: Astronomers Say Newport's Old Mill Pre-dates Colonial Times," Newport Daily News, 2 April 1993, sec. A1, 8. 

 

Pohl, Frederick J. "Was the Newport Tower Standing in 1632?" New England Quarterly 18 (December 1945): 501-506. 

---------- "Communication." New England Quarterly 19 (June 1946): 283-285. 

---------- "A Key to the Problem of the Newport Tower." Rhode Island History 7, no. 3 (July 1948): 75-83. 

---------- "The Newport Tower: An Answer to Mr. Godfrey." Archaeology 3 (Autumn 1950): 183-184. *Refer to William Godfrey's articles in Archaeology (1949, 1950) listed in the Colonial/Arnold Theory section. 

---------- "Plaster under the Newport Tower." American Antiquity 19, no. 3 (January 1954): 275-277. *Refer to William Godfrey, "Answer to Plaster under the Newport Tower,"American Antiquity 19, no. 3 (January 1954); 275-279, listed in the Colonial/Arnold Theory section. 

---------- The Viking Settlements of North America, 316-317. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1972. 

 

Prytz, Kåre. Westward before Columbus. Oslo: Norsk Maritimt Forlag, 1990.

 

Rafn, Charles C. "Account of an Ancient Structure in Newport, Rhode Island, the Vinland of the Scandinavians." In Supplement to the Antiquitates Americanae (re-issue of the 1839 volume), 1-10, Copenhagen, 1841. 

---------- "Astronomical Evidence for the Site of the Chief Settlement of the Ancient Scandinavians in America." In Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaries du Nord, 128-131. Copenhagen, 1840-1844. 

 

Richardson, Edward A. "The Builder of the Newport (Rhode Island) Tower." Journal of the Surveying and Mapping Division Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers 86, no. 2383, SU1 (February 1960): 73-95. 

 

Webb, Thomas H. "Account of an Ancient Structure in Newport, Rhode Island, the Vinland of the Scandinavians." In Supplement to the Antiquitates Americanae. Copenhagen, 1839. *Communicated by Thomas H. Webb, MD, in letters to Prof. C. C. Rafn; with remarks by Rafn, Boston, 22 May 1839. This supplement contains engravings from Frederick Catherwood's drawings of the Tower.

 

Wick, Barthinus L. Did the Norsemen Erect the Newport Round Tower? Cedar Rapids: The Torch Press, 1911.

Colonial and Arnold Theories

The following references support a colonial origin of Newport's Old Stone Mill. More specifically, many of these references support the theory that Benedict Arnold (1615-1678), Governor of Newport, Rhode Island, commissioned the building of the Tower as a windmill. Arnold refers to the Tower in his will as "my stonebuilt-windmill." The architectural form of the Tower resembles a windmill standing in Chesterton, England, where Arnold was born.

 


 

Benedict Arnold's Will, 1678, Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. *17th-century copy of the original will. Many historians cite Arnold's Will as the first written reference to the Old Stone Mill.

 

Brigham, Herbert Olin. The Old Stone Mill. Newport: Franklin Press, 1948. (Reprint 1955).

 

Brooks, Charles T. The Controversy Touching the Old Stone Mill. Newport, RI., 1851. *Privately published by Brooks, the work includes prints of the Old Stone Mill and the Chesterton Windmill, England.

 

Coggeshall, Charles P. "Some Old Rhode Island Grist Mills." Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, no. 39 (January 1922): 1-21.

 

Godfrey, William S. "The 1948 Excavation at the Old Stone Mill in Newport, R. I." Report to Preservation Society of Newport County, R. I., 1948. Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI.

 

---------- "The Newport Puzzle." Archaeology 2 (Autumn 1949): 146-149.

 

---------- "Newport Tower II." Archaeology 3 (Summer 1950): 82-86.

 

Godfrey, William S. "The Newport Tower, a reply to Mr. Pohl." Archaeology 4 (1951): 54-56. *Refer to Pohl, Frederick. "The Newport Tower: An Answer to Mr. Godfrey." Archaeology 3 (Autumn 1950): 183-184. Listed in the Norse Theory section.

 

---------- "The Archaeology of the Old Stone Mill in Newport, R. I." American Antiquity 17 (Oct. 1951): 120-129.

 

---------- "Digging a Tower and Laying a Ghost." Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1952.

 

---------- "Answer to Plaster under the Newport Tower." American Antiquity 19, no. 3 (January 1954): 275-279. *Refer to Pohl, Frederick, "Plaster under the Newport Tower," American Antiquity 19, no. 3 (January 1954): 275-277, listed in the Norse Theory section.

 

---------- "Vikings in America, Theories & Evidence." American Anthropologist 57, no. 1 (February 1955).

 

Hattendorf, Ingrid M. "From the Collection: William S. Godfrey's Old Stone Mill Archaeological Collection." Newport History: Journal of the Newport Historical Society 68, part 2, no. 235 (1997): 109-111.

 

Hertz, Johs. "Round Church or Windmill? New Light on the Newport Tower." Newport History: Journal of the Newport Historical Society 68, part 2, no. 235 (1997): 55-91. *Pages 92-97 include an appendix: Carbon-14 dating of the Newport Tower.

 

Landry, Janine. "Test Refutes Viking Tie to Mill," Newport Daily News, 4 December 1995, sec. C1, 5.

 

Leland, Waldo G. "Stone Mill or Tower, Newport, R. I." Report by the National Park Service Advisory Board, 1944. Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI.

 

Mason, George Champlin. "The Old Stone Mill at Newport." Magazine of American History 3 (1879), 541-549. And in Reminiscences of Newport, ch. 52, 392-407. Newport: Charles E. Hammett, Jr., 1884.

 

Moriarty, Andrews G. "Memoranda and Documents, Newport's Old Stone Mill." Reprinted from The New England Quarterly 12, no.1 (March 1946): 111-113. *A review of Frederick J. Pohl's "Was the Newport TowerStanding in 1632?" The New England Quarterly 18, no. 4 (December 1945): 501-506, listed in the Norse Theory section.

 

---------- "Newport's Old Stone Mill." The New England Quarterly 19 (June 1946): 111-114.

 

Morrison, Samuel Eliot. The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600, 37-38, 73-75, 490. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

 

"Newport: Historical and Social." Harper's New Monthly Magazine 9, no. 51 (August 1854): 314-315. 

 

Ogden, Derek. "Mystery of Tower Was Solved in '49," Newport Daily News, 3 February 1996.

 

---------- "Fireplaces Are Common in Tower Windmills," Newport Daily News, 23-24 March 1996.

 

Palfrey, John Gorham. History of New England. Vol. 1, 56-59, Boston:Little, Brown, & Co., 1858. *Includes a print of the Chesterton Windmill, England, and the Newport Tower.

 

Pendry, Steven R. "The Newport Tower: Revisiting New England's Fantastic Archaeology." In Archaeology of Eastern North America: Papers in Honor of Stephen Williams, edited by James B. Stoltman, 298-310. Archaeology Report no. 25, Jackson, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1993.

 

Phelan, Nick. "Stone Tower Myth Crumbles," Newport Daily News, 23 September 1993, sec. A1, 10.

 

Shelton, F. H. "More Light on the Old Mill at Newport." Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, no. 21 (January 1917): 3-23.

 

Snydacker, Daniel. "Reports on Origin of Old Stone Tower to be Published in Society Newsletter," Newport Daily News, 27 February 1996: A7.

 

Terry, Reverend Roderick, DD "The First European Visitors to Nar-ragansett Bay." Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society, no. 22 (April 1917): 1-5.

 

"Will of Governor Benedict Arnold." Rhode Island Historical Magazine 6 (1885-86): 20-38.

 

Winsor, Justin. Narrative and Critical History of America. Vol. I, part I. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1884-1889.

Additional Theories

The following section includes a variety of references. Many of these references, although non-committal, offer well rounded and well researched histories on the Old Stone Mill. Other references in this section offer origin theories of the Old Stone Mill which are quite different from the two accepted main theories, yet they are equally as interesting. Also included in this section are lighter references on the subject of the Old Stone Mill. These references encompass personal reflections, memoires, and social comments.

 


 

Allen, F. J. "The Ruined Mill, or Round Church of the Norsemen." Cambridge Antiquarian Society's Communications 22, (1921): 90-107.

 

Archambault, Florence. A Selection of Historical and Social Articles Pertaining to Newport, Rhode Island. Newport: Historic Newport Publishers, 1997.

 

Blaine, Joseph W. "Some Notes on Newport's Old Stone Mill." Unpublished manuscript at the Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI, April, 1979.

 

Bronsted, Johannes. "Norsemen in North America before Columbus." Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution (1953): 367-401.

 

Brown, Howard. "Viking Hoaxes in North America." Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society no. 178 (Spring 1980): 79-80. *A review of Jeffrey R. Redmond's book.

 

Cahoone, Sarah S. Historical Sketches of Newport & Its Vicinity. New York: John S. Taylor, 1842. *First published in 1840 by Taylor and Dodd as Visit to Grand-papa, or A Week in Newport.

 

Channing, George G. Early Recollections of Newport, R. I., 270-271. Newport: A. J. Ward, Charles E. Hammett, Jr., 1868.

 

Clarke, Charles H. The Old Stone Mill. Newport: Milne Printery, 1910.

 

Conant, Kenneth J. "Newport Tower or Mill." Rhode Island History 7, no. 1 (January 1948): 2-7. *Refer to Holand, Hjalmar R. America 1355-1364, 3-132. New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearce, 1946., and Means, Philip Ainsworth. Newport Tower. New York: Holt, 1942. Conant offers 13 reasons why the authors’ arguments in these two works are faulty. Holand is listed in the Norse Theory section, and Means is listed in the Additional Theories section (below).

 

---------- "Correction." Rhode Island History 7, no. 4 (October 1948): 125. *Conant issues a correction to his article "Newport Tower or Mill." Rhode Island History 7, no.1, 2-7. Paragraph no. 13, p. 6 should read "Southwest of Narragansett Bay."

 

da Silva, Manuel Luciano. "Portuguese Tower of Newport." In Portuguese Pilgrims & Dighton Rock, 74-78. Bristol, RI: [s. n.], 1971. This chapter is reprinted beginning on page 20.

 

"From the Past." &c., newsletter of Redwood Library, vol. 3, no.1 (Fall 1997): 8.

 

Haley, John Williams. The Old Stone Bank History of Rhode Island 3, 11-13. Providence: Providence Institution for Savings, 1939.

 

Hammett, Charles E., Jr. The Controversy Touching the Old Stone Mill in the Town of Newport, R. I. Newport: Mason & Pratt, 1851. *An exchange of letters printed in the Newport and Providence papers in the 19th century. Includes Appendix A (Benedict Arnold’s Will) and Appendix B (Edward Pelham’s Will).

 

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. Oldport Days. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1873. *A brief reference to the Tower can be found on page 13 and a photo of the Tower covered in ivy on the front-plate.

 

Heweth, Lida. "The Old Mill at Newport." American Monthly Magazine 5 (1894): 1-5.

 

Irwin, Rochester. "Newport's Tower of Mystery." Travel Magazine (July, 1927): 23, 46.

 

"Landmark Revisited: The Old Stone Mill." Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society 40, no. 2 (1967): 69-83.

 

"Legend of the Newport Tower." Yankee (March 1954): 24-35.

 

Lippincott, Bertram. Indians, Privateers, and High Society, 15-18. Philadelphia and New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1961.

 

Mason, George Champlin. Newport Illustrated, 59-60. New York: D. Appleton, 1854.

 

Means, Philip Ainsworth. Newport Tower. New York: Holt, 1942.

 

Miller, Alan Clark. "The Origins of the Newport Tower." Connecticut Review 2 (October 1968): 70-77.

 

Morgan, Richard. "Who Built the Old Newport Tower?" Mysterious New England. Dublin, N.H., Yankee Inc, 1971: 266-279.

 

O'Loughlin, Kathleen. Newport Tower. Ontario, Canada, 1948. *O'Loughlin offers the theory that the Old Stone Mill was built by Madoc ap Owain Gwynedd from North Wales in 1170.

 

O'Neill, John J. "Round Tower Enigma: Newport's Mystery Grows as Research Progresses," Herald Tribune, 24 July 1941.

 

Peirce, C. S. "The Old Stone Mill at Newport." Science 4 (1884): 512-514.

 

Pell, Herbert C. "The Old Stone Mill, Newport." Rhode Island History 7, no. 4 (October 1948): 105-119. *Pell theorizes that the Tower was built by shipwrecked Portuguese sailors led by Miguel Corte Real.

 

---------- "An Answer to the Norse Theory." Rhode Island History 12, no. 4 (October 1953): 120-122. *A response to Hjalmar Holand's "The Newport Tower Mystery II." Rhode Island History 12, no. 3 (July 1953): 83-89.


Plowden's New Albion Petition to King Charles I in 1632. Collections of New-York Historical Society, 1869. *This is a British public document written in 1632. Many scholars theorize that the mention of a round stone tower in this document is proof of the Old Stone Mill's existence before 1640. The item in the collection of the New-York Historical Society is an 1869 copy.

 

Quinn, Mary T. "A Query Concerning the Old Stone Mill at Newport." Rhode Island History 14, no. 1 (January 1955): 20-21.

 

Redmond, Jeffrey R. Viking Hoaxes in North America. New York: Carlton Press, 1977.

 

Rider, Sidney S. "The Real History of 'My Stone Built Windmill.'" Book Notes (Providence, R. I.) 31 (1914): 137-142.

 

Sears, Robert S. "The Ancient Tower of Newport, Rhode Island." Potter's American Monthly 5 (1875): 753-754.

 

Silliman, Horace F. "The Newport Tower: The English Elizabethan Solution." New England Antiquities Research Association Journal Special Publication, 1979.

 

---------- "Mary Stuart's Possible Connection with the Newport Tower." New England Antiquities Research Association Journal 15, no. 4, issue no. 58 (Spring 1981): 106-107.

 

Simister, Florence Parker. Streets of the City of Newport, 91-94. Providence: Mowbray Company, 1969.

 

Sinclair, Andrew. The Sword and the Grail: Of the Grail and Templars and a True Discovery of America, 140, 144-147, 150. New York: Crown Publishers, 1992. *Sinclair discusses the history of the discovery of America and revelations of the origins of Masons. Several references are made to the Old Stone Mill and the belief that it was constructed as a Templar Church.

 

Swain, Bradford F. "New Light on Newport Tower." Rhode Island History 5, no. 2 (April 1946): 57. *A review of Frederick J. Pohl's "Was the Newport Tower Standing in 1632?" New England Quarterly 18, no. 4 (December 1945): 501-506, listed in the Norse Theory section.

 

---------- "More Light on the Old Stone Mill." Rhode Island History 5, no. 3 (July 1946): 82.

 

"The Old Mill at Newport: A New Study of an Old Puzzle." Scribner's 17 (1879): 632-641.

 

"The Old Stone Mill in Perspective." Newport History: Journal of the Newport Historical Society 68, part 2, no. 235 (1997): 98-107. *An illustrated look at the Old Stone Mill.

 

Tiffany, Osmond. "Old Newport." Cosmopolitan 15 (1893): 672-73. *Includes a photograph and a brief mention of the Stone Tower. Reprinted in Florence Archambault's A Selection of Historical and Social Articles Pertaining to Newport, Rhode Island. See the Additional Theories section, page 10.

 

Von Hagen, Victor Wolfgang. Frederick Catherwood Architect, 46-47. New York: Oxford University Press, 1950. *Includes a discussion of how Catherwood's original drawings of the Old Stone Mill and the reproductions in Rafn's works were misrepresentative. (Rafn had reproduced Catherwood's originals.)

 

Whittal, James P. "Stone Tower Theory Raises Questions," Newport Daily News, 19 February 1996: A7. *Whittal theorizes that the Old Stone Mill was constructed as a Norman Templar Church.

 

Wolfe, Carl G. "Possible Visits to America before Columbus by Europeans." 8 August 1980. Unpublished manuscript at the Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI.

Newspaper Stories

The following are local newspaper references which demonstrate a never-waning local interest on the subject of the Old Stone Mill.

 


 

"Fact & Fancy about the Old Stone Mill," Newport Herald, 29 March 1899.

 

"Fact & Fancy about the Old Stone Mill," Newport Herald, 25 August 1889.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 17 August 1979, sec. A4. *Colonial miller George Lawton of Portsmouth built the Old Stone Mill for Arnold. 

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 19 November 1985, sec. A4. *Narragansett Indians and the Old Stone Mill. Click here for excerpt.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 22 May 1989, sec. C1. *The Old Stone Mill is used as a trademark.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 31 May 1989, sec. C1 *The Old Stone Mill is used as a logo.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 2 August 1989, sec. C1. *The Old Stone Mill is used as a logo.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill Needs Help," Newport Daily News, 29 November 1989, sec. C1.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 9 March 1992, sec. C1. *A replica of the Old Stone Mill once stood near Castle Hill.

 

Grist Mill, "Stone May Have Celtic Origin," Newport Daily News, 17 June 1992, sec. C1. *Irish monks built the Old Stone Mill.

 

Grist Mill, "Scots Lay Claim to Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 29 March 1993, sec. C5.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 14 April 1993, sec. C1. *The Old Stone Mill is used as a motif on numerous objects.

 

Grist Mill, "Boat Wreck Could Have Viking Link," Newport Daily News, 2 June 1993, sec. C1.

 

Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 18 August 1993, sec. C1 *The Old Stone Mill as a motif on objects.

 

Grist Mill, "Old Stone Mill Is Subject of Magazine Article," Newport Daily News, 10 November 1997. *A review of Paul Chapman's article in Ancient American Magazine "The R. I. Tower, Colonial Mill or VikingLighthouse."

 

Hedgcorth, William D. "Longfellow Poem Suggests Origin of the Stone Tower," Newport Daily News, 2 March 1996. Click here for related excerpt.

 

Landry, Janine. "Test Refutes Viking Tie to Mill," Newport Daily News, 4 December 1995, sec. C1, 5.

 

Local Briefs, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 26 April 1994, sec. C4. *William Penhallow to lecture on the astronomical wonders of the Old Stone Mill.

 

Local Briefs, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 21 July 1995, sec. C2. *Author John Dandola to do a book signing of Wind of Time.

 

"Mystery Shrouds Old Stone Mill." Providence Journal Bulletin, 29 August 1985, East Bay Edition.

 

Ogden, Derek. "Mystery of Tower Was Solved in '49," Newport Daily News, 3 February 1996.

 

---------- "Fireplaces Are Common in Tower Windmills," Newport Daily News, 23-24 March 1996.

 

"Old Stone Mill." Newport This Week, 9 November 1989.

 

Pantalone, John. "Our Mystery Tower," Newport This Week, 28 April 1994: 10.

 

Phelan, Nick. "Group Adds New Grist to Old Mill: Astronomers Say Newport's Old Mill Pre-dates Colonial Times," Newport Daily News, 2 April 1993, sec. A1, 8.

 

---------- "Stone Tower Myth Crumbles," Newport Daily News, 23 September 1993, sec. A1, 10.

 

Snydacker, Daniel. "Reports on Origin of Old Stone Tower to be published in Society Newsletter," Newport Daily News, 27 February 1996.

 

Whittal, James P. "Stone Tower Theory Raises Questions," Newport Daily News, 19 February 1996: A7. *Whittal theorizes that the Old Stone Mill was constructed as a Norman Templar Church.

Literature and Music

The following are references to fictional works. Some of these are completely based on Newport's Old Stone Mill while others merely use the structure to set a scene. The musical composition makes use of a literary work as well.

 


 

Brainard, J. G. "The Newport Tower." No date. Unpublished manuscript at the Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. *Poem.

 

Cheney, Cora. The Christmas Tree Hessian, 102. New York: Henry Holt, 1957. *Children's novel. The Old Stone Mill is mentioned as part of Newport's colonial landscape.

 

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Red Rover. New York: Hurd & Houghton, 1852. *The Old Stone Mill is used as a setting for a chapter in this novel. The characters discuss the possible original function of the Tower.

 

Dandola, John. Wind of Time. Glen Ridge, New Jersey: Rune Tales, 1995. *A mystery novel revolving around the Norse origins of the Old Stone Mill. Click here for a reproduction of a cartoon of the Old Stone Mill by Frederick Burr Opper that appeared in the book's appendix.

 

Longfellow, Henry W. The Skeleton in Armor. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1877. *Longfellow's poem about a Viking watch tower fueled many Norse theories on the origins of the Old Stone Mill. 

 

Pinheiro, Darline. Newport, to Color and Paint. Newport County Chamber of Commerce, 1980. *Children's coloring book.

 

Sigourney, L. H. "The Newport Tower." No date. Unpublished manuscript at the Newport Historical Society Library, Special Collections, Newport, RI. *Poem.

 

Thomas, H. C. Three Stories of the Old Stone Mill Newport, R. I. Newport: Remington Ward, printer, 1928. *Three tales (Welsh, Norse, and English) about the origins of the Tower.

 

Washburn, Delphine. Newport Women. Brooklyn, New York: Theo Gaus' Sons, Inc., 1967. *The Old Stone Mill is used as a backdrop for a scene in this novel.

 

Whiting, George E. The Tale of the Viking; Dramatic Cantata for three solo voices, chorus, and orchestra. Words by Henry W. Longfellow. New York: Schirmer, 1881. *Longfellow's The Skeleton in Armor is used by permission of the author. The overture is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, two trombones, bass tuba, strings, harps, and drums.

Excerpted Texts

Supporting the Colonial Theory

From: "Newport: Historical and Social." Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 9, no. 51 (August 1854). 

 

Supporting the Portuguese Theory

From: da Silva, Manuel Luciano. "Portuguese Tower of Newport." In Portuguese Pilgrims & Dighton Rock. Bristol, R. I: [s. n.], 1971. 

 

Newspaper Stories

From: Grist Mill, "The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 19 November 1985, sec. A4. *Narragansett Indians and the Old Stone Mill. 

 

Literature & Poetry

From: Longfellow, Samuel. Life of  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1886.

From: Hinds, Ernest Jasper. "The Old Stone Mill," 147-48. In Newport Poems. Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1942.  

Ernest Jasper Hinds

 

The Old Stone Mill  

     – Ernest Jasper Hinds

 

Built high upon a sea-beholding hill,   

Defiant, quaint, impenetrable, still,  

Mysterious enigma of the years,  

There stands the ruin of an ancient mill. 

 

Did old Red Eric Warlock, stern and bold  

Or some wild sea wolf of the days of old,  

Build here a bower for his lady love,  

A shelter here to shield her from the cold? 

 

Or did some prehistoric race of man  

Some colony from far-off  Yucatan,  

Erect a summer palace for their King,  

For thus the Red Men's ancient legend ran. 

 

If Christian white men built this tower so tall,  

Why did they put those altars in its wall?  

And why the pagan symbols south and north?  

Or why the need for building it at all? 

 

But Newport, smiling in her summer dress,  

Smiles on, and hazards many a guess  

To read the riddle of her ancient mill  

And with her matchless beauty all to bless. 

 

And thou, Oh Newport, goddess of the sea,  

How oft thine absent lovers yearn for thee,  

When they perchance have wandered far afield,  

What joy once more thy storied cliffs to see.  

 

To see thy breakers marching row on row,  

To feel the sharp pull of the undertow,  

To hear the sun-browned children shout in glee,  

While ceaselessly the bathers come and go. 

 

What mem'ries linger round this hallowed hill,  

Guarded by Channing and Perry still,  

And Newport, queen of fair Aquidneck Isle,  

Ever the same shall guard her old Old Stone Mill.         

 

from:

Hinds, Ernest Jasper. "The Old Stone Mill,"  147-48.  In Newport Poems. Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1942.

 

A native of East Boston, Hinds came to Newport at the age of 28, shortly after his marriage to Mary Richardson of Northampton, MA, in 1918. Employed at the Naval Torpedo Station, he subsequently served as the sexton of Channing Memorial Church until two years before his death in 1945 at the age of 74.

Grist Mill

Grist Mill  [Leonard Panaggio]

"The Old Stone Mill," Newport Daily News, 19 November 1985, sec. A4. 

 

The Old Stone Mill, perhaps one of this nation's oldest tourist curiosities, has been "built" by Vikings, Portuguese explorers, Irish monks, and, of course, our Colonial Settlers. On Aug. 31, l918, the Providence Journal reported the observations of Chief Strongheart, a member of the Yakima tribe. The Yakima Indians live in Washington State.   

 

Chief Strongheart made the claim that the stone tower was not built by Norsemen or the British, but by Narragansett Indians. It was not built for mill purposes, but as a temple!  The Indian chief was lecturing in the interests of the YMCA at the naval stations and army cantonments while on a tour of the installations in the Newport district. Maybe the visiting Yakima leader has a point to consider. Many of the miles of beautiful dry stone walls, made from the local field stones, just like those in the Old Stone Mill, were constructed by Indians working for early settlers.  

 

Harper's New Monthly Magazine

An excerpt from "Newport: Historical and Social," in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 9, no. 51 (August 1854): 314-315

Click here to learn more about illustration.

 

We speak of the old days of Newport, and of its vanished glories.  But there remains one monument which interests the poet, the antiquarian, the traveler, the controversialist, the divine; of which sweet songs have been sung, wild theories spun, and happy hoaxes invented,  It is the "stem round tower of other days," the Newport ruin, the old mill.  It stands upon a lot between Mill and Pelham streets, opposite the front of the Atlantic House.  It tells no story itself, but it is suggestive of romantic legend, although there can be little doubt that it is only an old mill.  A pamphlet published two or three years since in Newport, and understood to be written by Rev. Charles T. Brooks, the accomplished and genial scholar, the graceful poet, and pastor of the church at whose dedication Dr. Channing paid his interesting and beautiful tribute of remembrance to the island, contains the most lucid and comprehensive account of the structure.  The society of Danish Antiquaries at Copenhagen had, upon the reception of some imperfect drawings, hastily decided that it was probably built in the twelfth century by the Northmen who coasted along the New England shore, and called the country Vinland, from the abundance of grapes.  It is upon this romantic hint, and the discovery of "a skeleton in armor" at Fall River, upon the main near Newport, that Longfellow has founded his heroic ballad of the same name. 

 

The Viking escapes with his mistress from her forbidding father and the Norsemen: 

 

"Three weeks we westward bore,  

And, when the storm was o'er,   

Cloud-like we saw the shore,   

Stretching to leeward;   

There, for my lady's bower,  

Built I the lofty tower,   

Which, to this very hour,   

Stands, looking seaward." 

 

The old mill is about seventy-five feet above the high-water level in the harbor, and about a hundred and twenty rods from the shore. The earliest settlers make no mention of it, and this is quite sufficient proof of its erection since that period, as the original settlement of the town was very near the site of the building, and so remark-able an object would not have escaped mention by some of the profuse diarists of the times.  In 1663, Peter Easton, one of the first settlers, says in his Journal, that the first wind-mill was built during that year; and, in 1675, it was blown down by a heavy gale.  This fact would induce its reconstruction in a more solid manner.  In 1653, Benedict Arnold, who was of a different family from that of the traitor, came to Newport from Providence, where he had had difficulties with Roger Williams and with the Indians.  He settled in Newport, and was presently made Governor.  He built a house upon a lot of sixteen acres, just in the rear of the present site of the Rhode Island Union Bank upon Thames Street, the eastern part of which includes the mill. Governor Arnold died in 1678, aged sixty-three years.  His will is dated 20th December, 1677, and speaks of the lot upon which stands "my stone-built wind-mill."  It would be very natural that Arnold, who was not in favor with the Indians, would be quite willing to erect a building which not only should look like a fort, but might actually serve as one, and especially as the wind-mill had just been blown down, he would wish to build securely. 

    

Mr. Joseph Mumford stated, in l834, when he was eighty years old, that his father was born in 1699, and always spoke of the building as a powder-mill, and he himself remembered that in his boyhood, say in 1760, it was used as a hay-mow.  John Langley, another octogenarian, remembered hearing his father say, that when he was a boy, which must have been early in the eighteenth century, he carried corn to the mill to be ground.  Edward Pelham, who married Arnold's granddaughter, in his will, dated in 1740, calls it "an old stone wind-mill." 

 

This is the direct historical testimony.  The evidence from the material, form, and quality of lime, &c., is equally satisfactory.  It was built of stone, because there were no saw-mills then upon the island to make boards, and because the material was ample and accessible.  The shells, sand, and gravel for lime were equally convenient to use.  In the year 1848, some mortar from an old stone-house in Spring Street, built by Henry Bull in 1639, from the tomb of Governor Benedict Arnold, and from various other old buildings, was compared with the mortar of the old mill, and found to be identical in quality and character. The form is that of English mills at the period, with which the builders would be most familiar. In the Penny Magazine for November, 1836, there is a picture of a mill in Warwickshire, designed by Inigo Jones, who died in 1652, of which the form is quite the same.  Old sea-captains and travelers testify to having seen hundreds of similar wind mills all over the north of Europe.

 

Vague romance totters under these direct blows of fact. 

 

"Alas the antiquarian's dream is o'er-  

Thou art an old stone wind-mill, nothing more!" 

 

sings Mr. Brooks in his poem of  "Aquidneck." But the old ruin does not lose its interest.  It is a permanent link with the earliest historical days of the Island. It belongs still to as much romance as the poet can bring to it.  No one has more fully proved it than the author of an admirable antiquarian hoax upon the building, in a series of letters professing to come from "Antiquarian," dating from Brown University, in 1847.  He introduces the Danish theory, supported by reports of fabulous investigations by fictitious characters, which did not fail of provoking caustic correspondence, and finally achieving its triumph by eliciting a solemn denial, from Professor Rafn, of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries at Copenhagen, of the existence of such characters as Bishop Oelrischer, Professors Scrobein, Graetz, &c.  Its true history, also, has been hinted in song by the laureate of Old Grimes, a Rhode Island poet, scholar, and gentleman [Albert G. Greene, of  Providence], whose musical verses sum up the whole matter.  It is the Song of the Wind-mill Spirits

 

"How gayly that morning we danced on the hill,   

When we saw the old Pilgrims were building a mill.   

Its framework all fell ere a century waned,   

And only the shaft and the millstones remained.   

It was built all of wood,   

And bravely had stood,   

Sound-hearted and merry, as long as it could;  

And the hardy old men   

Determined that then   

Of firm, solid stone they would build it again,  

With a causeway and draw,   

Because they foresaw   

It would make a good fort in some hard Indian war." 

 

Longfellow

 

"Three weeks we westward bore, 

And, when the storm was o'er,  

Cloud-like we saw the shore,  

     Stretching to leeward;  

There, for my lady's bower, 

Built I the lofty tower,  

Which, to this very hour,  

     Stands, looking seaward.

There lived we many years; 

Time dried the maiden's tears; 

She had forgot her fears, 

     She was a mother; 

Death closed her mild blue eyes, 

Under that tower she lies; 

Ne'er shall the sun arise 

     On such another!" 

 

These stanzas are excerpted from The Skeleton in Armor by Henry W. Longfellow (Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1877). 

 

Regarding The Skeleton in Armor, Longfellow (1807-1882) had written to his father, Stephen Longfellow, on December 13, 1840:

 

I have been hard at work, - for the most part wrapped up in my own dreams. Have written a translation of a German ballad, and prepared for the press another original ballad, which has been lying by me some time. It is called 'The Skeleton in Armor,' and is connected with the old Round Tower at Newport. This skeleton in armor really exists. It was dug up near Fall River, where I saw it some two years ago [when returning from Newport]. I suppose it to be the remains of one of the old Northern sea-rovers, who came to this country in the tenth century. Of course I make the tradition myself; and I think I have succeeded in giving the whole a Northern air. You shall judge soon, as it will probably be in the next Knickerbocker; and it is altogether too long to copy in a letter. I hope it may be successful, though I fear that those who only glance at it will not fully comprehend it; and I must say to the benevolent reader, as Rudbeck says in the preface of his Atlantica (a work of only 2,500 folio pages), "If thou hast not leisure to study it through ten times, then do not read it once, - especially if thou wilt utter thy censure thereof." A modest request!  

 

From Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Samuel Longfellow, ed. (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1886), vol. 1, p. 366.

 

1852 JOURNAL

Longfellow's Journal records his impressions of his visit to Newport:

 

July 3rd

Newport.

Here we are, in the clover-fields on the cliff, at Hazard's house; near the beach, with the glorious sea unrolling its changing billows before us. 

 

6th

A drive and a bath on the beach. How beautifully the soft sea spreads its broad-feathered fans upon the shore. In the afternoon we went and sat by the sea under the cliff and watched the breakers and the sails, and thought the rocks looked like the Mediterranean shore, and that the Italian language would sound well.  

(p.223)

Portuguese Tower of Newport

Excerpted from Dr. Manuel Luciano da Silva's Portuguese Pilgrims and Dighton Rock.  Bristol, R. I: [s. n.], 1971,  74-78

 

The Newport Tower, located in Touro Park (Newport, Rhode Island), is considered the single most enigmatic and puzzling structure to be found in the United States. Many scholars here and abroad have written extensively about its probable builders. They all agree that it was not erected by the American Indians. Its architectural characteristics indicate a style from Europe or the Near East.  

  

LOCATION

The tower is situated at 41° 27 minutes north latitude on the highest point of the peninsula which forms the City of Newport. It was built about a half mile from both the East and West shore lines of the city. Its panoramic view dominates all water entrances of the Narragansett Delta.  

 

ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES

The tower is a cylindrical structure with an outside diameter of 23 feet, and 24 1/2 feet in height. It has eight round columns or pillars, 7 1/2 feet high. 

 

Columns 1 and 5 are situated in a true North-South line oriented by the North Star. Each column rests on a base with a circumference of 12 feet. The columns are connected by 8 round arches, forming an inverted U and suggesting a Romanesque style. 

 

Above the arches are three principal windows. The first window, at 70' east northeast looks toward Easton Point and the mouth of the Sakonnet River. The second window is situated due south facing the Atlantic Ocean. The third window points west facing Newport Harbor and the entrance to Narragansett Bay. 

 

Inside, the Tower has 7 small niches and a so-called "fireplace" built into the wall. At the top of each column on the inner side, and between the arches, there are triangular sockets which served to insert wooden beams. 

 

The Tower is composed of laminated slate, sea-worn stones and mortar. The mortar is composed of sand, fine gravel and lime derived from sea shells or limestone. All these materials were native and could be found within the region nearby. The seashore is only one-half mile away.  

 

OCTAGONAL CONFIGURATION

The round arch as an architectural form, first appeared in the Near East. Byzantine architects (IVth Century, A.D.) began constructing four-sided towers, gradually evolving into an octagonal shape, and finally building round towers on which to rest the domes of their churches. 

 

Since then, both the round and octagonal forms have been used interchangeably as serving the same architectural function. Both styles were adopted throughout Christendom. The church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem (built 330 A.D.) containing the tomb of Christ, has around altar. The Templars worshipped at the main altar of the Holy Sepulcher Church. Upon returning from the Crusades (XIIth Century) they introduced round and octagonal churches throughout most of Europe. 

 

Initially, the round towers were used to support domes which symbolized the stars or heaven. But soon the same style was used in building the watchtowers of the medieval castles. There are many round and octagonal churches in Europe but most are to be found in Southern Europe. The secret of the Newport Tower lies in one of these round European structures erected by the Templars. 

 

THEORIES

There are two major theories concerning the on gin of Newport Tower: 1) the Arnold or Yankee theory, 2) The Norse, Viking, or Scandinavian theory.  

 

THE ARNOLD THEORY

The Arnold theory is based on two assumptions: 1) Benedict Arnold, Governor of Newport, R. I. refers to the Tower in his will (November 24, 1677) as "my stonebuilt-windmilln." 2) The architectural form of the Tower resembles a windmill standing in Chesterton, England, where Arnold was born. Robert Philip Means in his book, Newport Tower (1942) disproved conclusively the Arnold theory. 

 

First, Means shows that Arnold was born far from the Town of Chesterton and what the Arnoldists refer to as a "mill" was actually an observatory of six arches and six columns. He also observes that in the year 1675 - when Arnold was supposed to have built the Tower - the colonists were engaged in a bloody Indian war known as ''King Philip's War." The year 1675 marked the peak of the war between colonists and Indians. How could Arnold mobilize the manpower to move tons of material to build such a fancy "windmilln" and not erect instead a fort to protect the whites from the rampaging red men? "Building from the ground up so amazing a windmill under these circumstances is inconceivable" Means asserted. 

 

And he finally proposed that, if Governor Arnold built the Newport Tower he should be credited with "the first and only tower windmill in the English-speaking world." 

 

If the Arnoldists insist on supporting their theory with a pair of hyphenated words ("stonebuilt-windmilln") they will be propping their view only with sentimentality and prejudice.  

 

THE NORSE THEORY

The Viking theory is based on three assertions: 

1) According to the "Vinland Sagas", the Norsemen (Norwegians chiefly, Danes and Swedes) made voyages to North America from the Xth to the XIIth Centuries: 

     a) Leif Ericsson c. 1010 A.D. 

     b) Thorfinn Karlsefni c. 1010 A.D. 

     c) Bishop Eric Grunpfson c. 1121 A.D. 

2) The Norsemen, during that period, made the inscriptions on Dighton Rock. 

3) The Norsemen also built the Newport Tower as a Catholic Scandinavian church.  

 

REFUTATION

1) The "Vinland Sagas" cannot be considered reliable historical references. The scholars that have studied "the Sagas" are the first to admit that they are a collection of legends carried down through generations of hearsay. Until more concrete evidence is found, no historical value can be attributed to the tales described in the voyages of the Norsemen to North America, and more specifically to Narragansett Bay. 

 

2) It has been demonstrated conclusively (Chap. 7) that the theory proposed by Charles Rafn in 1836, namely that Thorfinn Karlsefni was the author of the Dighton Rock inscriptions, has no foundation and is totally erroneous. 

 

3) The Scandinavians were the last to accept the Catholic religion. They also have the smallest number of round or octagonal churches in Europe. Denmark has one octagonal and three round churches. Sweden has two round ones and Norway none. 

 

Robert Means, after doing such excellent work in killing the Arnold theory, went specially to the Scandinavian countries hoping to find an abundance of round churches to uphold the Norse theory. He was heartbroken, when in Norway, the country chiefly associated with the Norse voyages, he could not find even one round or octagonal church standing. 

 

If we assume that Ericsson and Karlsefni came to America in the XIth Century, it is obvious they could not have built the Newport Tower inspired by the style of the Holy Sepul chre rotunda, because the first crusade to the Holy Land took place a century later. 

 

Bishop Eric Grunpfson also could not have built the round tower of Newport because there were, before his supposed departure, no round or octagonal churches in any of the Scandinavian countries. It is impossible to believe that with the tempting offer of heaven to those who would participate in the crusades, some Bishop would choose to venture into the unknown Atlantic to christianize the natives, when Christian Europe was actively fighting the Arab and Turkish infidels. If the Norsemen made so many trips to North America, as noted in the "Sagas", why did they not build any other church, round or square, elsewhere in America? 

 

If the Norsemen did come to North America, it is because they drifted into the Greenland Current which runs from Europe to Greenland. With their type of sailing vessel, the Norsemen could not navigate below the tip of Cape Cod, against the strong opposing winds and currents of the Gulf Stream. Centuries later, this same current forced the Pilgrims to navigate above Cape Cod, and away from their original destination of Virginia. 

 

The Norsemen also did not have the jib sail, which was necessary in order to navigate against the wind or in a zigzag fashion. This technique was later developed by the Portuguese. It is absurd to claim that the Norsemen navigated the rough North Atlantic, from Iceland or Greenland, directly to Narragansett Bay before the discovery of the caravel. 

 

The arguments in favor of the Norse theory are much weaker than those backing the Arnold theory. They are so vague and unspecific, that the Nordists can hardly support their theory on ethnic sentimentality and prejudice. 

 

Means confessed to be "bothered" by the evidence of Dighton Rock inscriptions in favor of Corte Real and also by the cannon and sword found near Ninigret Fort. He also states that "he saw in the old Portuguese fort of Tangier cannons like this one (at Ninigret)."

 

Disillusioned, Means, who painstakingly gathered material for the Norse theory, in the last chapter of his book nevertheless assigns a meager "five per cent" probability to the Portuguese theory of Newport Tower.  

 

PORTUGUESE THEORY

The Portuguese theory begins in Tomar, a city in central Portugal. It is not a legend nor a saga. It is there today, gallant and beautiful, as the main rotunda or charola of the Castle of Tomar. It was erected in 1160 by the Portuguese Order of Templars, which later in 1320 was named Order of Christ. This Order furnished the financial resources, the manpower, and religious training for the navigators and missionaries of the Portuguese discoveries. The Portuguese Templars, inspired by the round and octagonal churches they saw in the Near East, especially the Holy Sepulcher, built five castles (Almoural, Idanha, Monsanto, Pombal, Tomar and Zezere) , in the same style.  

 

Newport Tower with 8 arches.
Charola, or main altar, with 8 round arches, in the Castle of Tomar.

 

The Castle of Tomar is the prototype of the Portuguese octagonal rotundas with eight arches. It has an outside wall which is round and terminates in a watch tower. Herbert Pell, former United States Ambassador to Portugal, was the first (1948) to make the direct connection between Newport Tower and the main tower of the Castle of Tomar. 

 

He pointed out that the Portuguese have always been good masons: "Even today their favorite way of construction is to use small stones thickly embedded in cement" which was the method used in Newport Tower. Pell should have noted that the Portuguese, during the time of the discoveries, used the same method to build more than 150 castles and churches in North, West, and East Africa, the Far East (Ceylon, Japan, India) and Brazil. 

 

No European country has built more churches and castles with round and octagonal towers than Portugal in so many distant lands. In fact, the Portuguese flag is the only one in the world in which there are castles. The arches of these castles resemble those of the Newport Tower. 

 

It does not matter for which purpose the Newport Tower was built: (a) windmill, (b) Catholic church rotunda, or (c) watchtower. The evidence in favor of the Portuguese theory by far outweighs that of the Yankee or Norse theories. 

 

The round windmills, which had their origin in Persia, were introduced into Europe by the Moors via the Iberian Peninsula. Advanced knowledge of the windmills was acquired by the Portuguese Navigators on their voyages to the Persian Gulf. 

 

In the United States, it is thought that Holland is the country that has the largest number of windmills. In actual fact, the Dutch have five-hundred windmills and Portugal has three thousand. We have seen that the Portuguese had the practice of building a combined church and fortress. Starting with the main rotunda (octagonal or round) , the church terminated in the watchtower. 

 

The construction of Newport Tower was a gigantic enterprise, considering the availability of material and manpower. Only a very strong motive could have inspired its builders. There are many octagonal and round churches in Portugal which could serve as prototypes to the Newport Tower. 

 

However, evidence strongly indicates that Miguel Corte-Real and his crew built the Newport Tower to use as a church-watchtower in anticipation that Miguel's oldest brother, Vasqueances, would come searching for him, as Miguel had done for Gaspar. 

 

As stated before, Dighton Rock is the primary evidence for the Corte-Real discovery of Narragansett Bay. Together with the anthropological and linguistic evidence, the Newport Tower constitutes another strong link in the Portuguese theory. One further link in the Portuguese chain of facts brings us to the archeological findings at Ninigret Fort. 

 

This chapter is reprinted with the kind permission of Dr. Manuel Luciano da Silva.

Images

The small watercolor (at left) depicts the Stone Tower in a pastoral setting. While this picture is not an accurate representation of any point in history, the Tower is, in fact, on a hill that, before Newport was built up in colonial times, overlooked fields and the waters of Narragansett Bay. The original image is 2 1/4" x 4 15/16" and is undated and unsigned.  

 

Collection of Redwood Library.

Engraving (at left) of the "Old Tower at Newport" by Benson J. Lossing and William Barritt. It is reproduced in The Pictorial Field-book of The Revolution by Lossing, published in 1852.
Illustration from “Newport: Historical and Social,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, vol. 9, no. 51 (August 1854), 315. The engraving was originally printed in Newport Illustrated, written by George C. Mason in 1854, and published for him and for Whitney, Jocelyn & Annin, engravers. Mason wrote the text as well as made all 26 drawings for the book. Twenty-two of them were purchased by Harper & Brothers and used in the August, 1854, issue of their magazine. Although Mason drew the series of views of Newport and its environs (including the Old Stone Mill) on stone, the initials in the engraving above appear to be D.C.H., perhaps the signature of DeWitt C. Hitchcock, an illustrator, engraver, and landscapist who worked in Boston, Cincinnati, and New York City from 1845-79.

W. H. Rau (1855-1920)

 

William Herman Rau was a commercial photographer and the producer of stereograph cards. His work is represented in the collections of the Stowe Day Foundation (Hartford, CT); the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT); the Print Department of the Boston Public Library; the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House (Rochester, NY); the Visual Studies Workshop Research Center (Rochester); the Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).

 

The image is 6" x 8 1/4" and is from the collection of James Baker.

 

Frederick Catherwood.  "Ancient Structure in Newport, Rhode-Island, The Vinland of the Scandinavians." ca. 1836-39. A comparison of the two images (at left and below) with the other images in this section reveals inaccuracies in Catherwood's renderings. For more information, see Norse Theory.
Frederick Catherwood.  "Ancient Structure [interior view] in Newport, Rhode-Island, The Vinland of the Scandinavians." ca. 1836-39.  For more information see Norse Theory.

"Cheapest Newport Season"  

Cartoon by Frederick  Burr Opper (1857-1937)

 

Opper worked as a cartoonist, artist, and illustrator for various newspapers and magazines, including The New York Journal, Puck,  and Frank Leslie's. Famous for his political cartoons and comic strips, he also illustrated a number of humorous books. The cartoon at left is from Bill Nye's History of the United States (Chicago; Thompson & Thompson, 1894).  

 

From the collection of John Dandola.

Panoramic Postcard - folds out to 3 1/2 x 11"  

Copyright 1906 by Blanchard, Young, & Co., Providence, R.I., U.S.A.  

From the collection of John Dandola

Edith Ballinger Price (1897-1997)  

 

Edith Ballinger Price, an illustrator, painter, and writer, who died in Virginia on September 29, 1997, was born April 26, 1897. The daughter of William F. and Eleanor R. Richards Price and the granddaughter of the well-known 19th-century American artist William Trost Richards, she lived most of her life in Newport, a place she always considered home. She wrote to Linda Gordon, associate editor of Redwood's newsletter &c., in 1989, "I feel as though I have been away from Home a long time…. Among all the Newport changes, I’m glad the Redwood stands firm." She was a Redwood shareholder from 1956 until her departure from Newport in 1962.  

 

Miss Price described her pen-and-ink drawing (at left) of 1929 as "one of a series of historic Newport post cards that I did back in the ‘20s and ‘30s. I called them ‘Histori-cards’ – they were quite popular, and sold well. Never thinking that they might become as popular as they did, I carelessly neglected to copyright them – and in the quarter century that has passed since I left Newport, some of them were pirated in various ways, without my knowledge or sanction (my fault)." Several of these drawings were shown in the "Tercentenary Exhibition: The History of Newport in Pictures" at the Art Association of Newport in 1939. Fascinated with Newport’s history, Miss Price lectured about and worked for the preservation of the city’s colonial architecture, while celebrating it in her art work.

 

Collection of Redwood Library.

Touro Park

Helena Sturtevant (1872-1947)  

 

A Rhode Island native, Helena Sturtevant was a graduate of the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and studied under Blanche and Lucien Simon at the Colarossi Academy in Paris. Her work was influenced by the Impressionists and was exhibited both in Paris and at a number of American sites. She was one of the founders of the Newport Art Association (now the Newport Art Museum). Beginning in 1912, with a group of local intellectuals and fellow artists, she started the Art Association and directed its art school for close to 35 years. In addition, from the early 1900s until her death, Sturtevant painted numerous views of Aquidneck Island, including Touro Park and (at left) the Old Stone Mill. In 1941 the Art Association devoted an exhibition to her work. In 1942 a group associated with the Newport Historical Society purchased a collection of 62 of Sturtevant's paintings and turned them over to Newport's City Hall. There they have hung on permanent exhibition ever since. In 1995 Sturtevant's work was once again the focus of an exhibition at the Newport Art Museum.  

 

Collection the City of Newport, Rhode Island, courtesy of the Newport Cultural Commission

Painting by the students of Cranston Calvert Elementary School, Newport. The painting is mounted on the wall of the school playground.

 The Leafy Period


from Da Silva, Manuel Luciano. "Portuguese Tower of Newport." In Portuguese Pilgrims & Dighton Rock, 74-78. Bristol, R. I: [s. n.], 1971.

Harold W. Babbitt, Jr.  (1918-1998)

 

Newport native Harold W. Babbit was born on June 19, 1918, the son of the late Harold W. and Cora Mallett Babbitt. A graduate of Rogers High School, he created the linoleum print at left during the 1935-1936 school year while he was still a student there. It was featured as the cover illustration of the Annual Report of The School Department of the City of Newport, Rhode Island, 1935-1936 (Vol. 71).  A Navy veteran, Babbitt served from 1942 until 1945 and worked at the former Naval Torpedo Station on Goat Island in Newport. A painter and wallpaper hanger, he owned Harold Babbitt's Painting Co. from 1943 until his retirement in 1983. He played the tuba in the Newport Concert Band and  was a member of the Newport Railroad Club, an organization devoted to model trains. The image of the Stone Tower is reproduced with the kind permission of Mrs. Martha Babbitt, who said her late husband would be proud to see his work on the Redwood Library website.