Fort Adams is a now deactivated US coastal army post located in Newport, Rhode Island. Originally built in 1799, it is now part of Fort Adams State Park and was named after President John Adams, who was in office when it was commissioned. The fort that stands today was constructed during the period of 1824–1857 and was used by the army and navy in different capacities up until 1965, when it was passed to Rhode Island to become part of the state park. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. In the past, the fort was referred to as “The Rock on Which the Storm Shall Beat”.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
All of the National Historic Landmarks in Fort Adams State Park are promoted and preserved by a not-for-profit organization known as the Fort Adams Trust. The fort itself is built from brick granite and shale and sits on 79 acres of land. In 1809 it included 17 cannons, which were garrisoned whilst the War of 1812 commenced. The Fort Adams Museum and Archives is located within the former redoubt jailhouse, housing a permanent collection of historical photographs of life and activities dating back several hundred years. Further artifacts on display are period antiques, uniforms, various archives from the fort, and artifacts that were discovered during the 2012 National Geographic Diggers show. Additional exhibits are rotated every 90-120 days so that those visiting once or several times a year can experience new information. The museum can be rented for small meetings for members or other parties, whereby the rolling exhibit cases can be moved to give more space.
The fort offers a self-guided tour that allows limited access to the grounds. Alternatively, for better access to the tunnels and overlooks, visitors can book a guided tour at certain times. This docent-guided tour takes visitors through the inner workings of the fort, meaning a look at over 180 years focusing on architecture, engineering, history, and military culture. The tour includes visiting the officers’ quarters, where officers and their families resided, and a journey to the overlook on the top of the fort with scenic views of Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor. As part of the tour, the group will also enter the underground listening tunnels, complete with flashlights, and undertake a trip through the barracks, soldiers’ quarters, on top of the forts walls, examining weaponry along the way.
All tours are seasonal with the option of a ghost tour with the RI Paranormal Research Group on certain dates. Weekend dates see a special tour of the Fort’s Advanced Southern Redoubt, often referred to as the “Lost Fortress,” which is situated to the south of the main fort. Within the fort is also a gift shop that sells memorabilia and small snacks. In the grounds of Fort Adams State Park lies the Fort Adams Visitor Center and the Fort Adam Yacht Museum, which are both open seasonally. Another attraction in the area is the Eisenhower House, named after the 34th President of the United States, who used it as his summer retreat whilst in office. There is a 2.5-mile walk around the fort named the Fort Adams Bay Walk, which is flat, paved, and covers the perimeter of Fort Adam State Park. The views along the way encompass Narragansett Bay, the Newport Bridge, Newport Harbor, lighthouses, and Clingstone, also known as the “House on the Rock.” There are public restrooms situated along the way.
Work begun on the original Fort Adams in 1798 and finished in 1799. The designer of the original fort was a member of the Army Corps of Engineers named Major Louis de Tousard. Active until 1821, the fort was garrisoned in 1841. In 1824 new construction started on the fort, supervised by Colonel Joseph G. Totten, a leading engineer of the times. The new fort was designed to garrison 2,240 men and mount over 400 canons. Finally, in 1950 the fort was deactivated. Whilst it did not experience an attack, the fort was used in all major conflicts during its active service and is considered a National Historic Landmark of interest not only in the US but in the world.
Newport, RI 02840, Phone: 401-841-0707