In the blocks surrounding the Yankee Peddler Inn, there are many sites of historic interest — the first being the neighborhood itself! “Historic Hill,” in the midst of Newport’s Old Quarter, has a wealth of architectural and cultural riches, both humble and grand. One of the best ways to experience it is by wandering through the narrow streets of historic homes on foot — guests often do this on their way to or from dinner or shopping on the wharf. Of course, you will find numerous “famous” sights in the neighborhood as well:
Touro Synagogue (one block away)
The oldest synagogue in America was named for Isaac Touro of Amsterdam. The building was completed in 1762 with the support of Jews Spanish and Portuguese Jews from Amsterdam and London who migrated to the Caribbean and then settled in Newport around 1677. Designated a national historic site in 1946, the synagogue remains an active house of worship. Of note, a letter from George Washington to the congregants of Touro Synagogue is reproduced in bronze in the synagogue’s garden, Patriot Park, for all to read and appreciate.
Trinity Church and Queen Anne Square (three blocks away)
Built in 1725-26 by Richard Munday, Trinity was based upon designs by Sir Christopher Wren and is very similar to the Old North Church in Boston. Home to Newport’s earliest Episcopal parish, founded in 1698, the church’s interior is remarkable for its box pews and wineglass pulpit. The all-wood, white-spired Trinity, situated atop the gentle slope of Queen Anne Square, is a central landmark in Newport and has been featured in major movies including Amistad, Evening and Moonrise Kingdom. The stone installations throughout the park were designed by artist Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
International Tennis Hall of Fame (five blocks away)
The Newport Casino, designed in the 1880s by Charles McKim and Stanford White, is now home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum chronicles the history of the sport and has an extensive collection of tennis-related memorabilia, art and fashion. The tennis facility features 13 grass courts and still hosts the only grass-court professional tournament in North America. Each year, in the closing days of the tournament (typically mid-July), new inductees are welcomed into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Grass courts may be reserved by visitors for private play.
Museum of Newport History (four blocks away)
This engaging little museum and gift shop is a great place to get an overview and visual understanding of Newport history. Located in the 1762 Brick Market, it is operated by the Newport Historical Society and contains many interesting artifacts such as James Franklin’s printing press. This is is also the meeting place for a variety of Newport Historical Society walking tours.
Newport Art Museum (three blocks away)
This classic American “stick-style” home on Bellevue Avenue is a work of art in itself. The Art Association of Newport opened Griswold House, originally built in 1864 by Richard Morris Hunt, as a gallery in 1916. The Museum displays a significant collection of historic local and New England art; it also offers diverse and frequently-changing exhibits featuring current artists. During the summer, Newport Art Museum hosts numerous events (such as the ever-popular “Wet Paint” each August), and concerts sometimes take place on the lawn.
Redwood Library & Athenaeum (three blocks away)
The oldest lending library in America, this beautiful Palladian-inspired building on Bellevue Avenue was the first in that style to be built in the New World. Founded in 1747 by Abraham Redwood and friends, it opened in 1750. The design is based on a Roman Doric temple and is said to have influenced Thomas Jefferson. A membership library with museum open to public, the Redwood has had many prominent members including authors Edith Wharton, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Julia Ward Howe, and painter Gilbert Stuart.
Colony House (three blocks away)
Built between 1736 and 1739, this handsome brick building with balcony and roof-top balustrades is the fourth oldest statehouse still standing in the United States. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud to Newport citizens from the front steps in July 1776. That tradition is repeated each year during the Fourth of July celebration, when a reading of the entire Declaration is enjoyed by locals and visitors from around the country and world. The Newport Colony House served as the statehouse for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations until 1901, when the newer white-domed statehouse in Providence opened.