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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island (population 25,000), was a bustling Colonial port and is most well known for the opulent "cottages" built by the late-19th-century millionaires who spent their summers there.

Founded in 1639 by seekers of religious freedom, Newport preserves some of America's most historic houses of worship, including the 1699 Quaker Meeting House, Trinity Church (1726), and the Touro Synagogue (1763).

Newport has long been a national leader in historic preservation, and heritage tourism is an important component of the local economy. Visitors can take walking tours, including one highlighting Newport's African American heritage, or view the grand mansions from the Cliff Walk along the shoreline.

Interesting museums of naval heritage, yachting and tennis are among those that showcase aspects of Newport's history. Newport has been the recipient of numerous grants from the Save America's Treasures program, and has been named one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" in 2004.

The local government, private preservation organizations, the business community, and the university are all engaged in protecting and sharing the resources of their historic community.

One current community effort is the restoration and interpretation of Fort Adams, the largest, most complex coastal fort ever built in the United States. The site, overlooking Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay, was first fortified in 1799 and named for President John Adams.

The current structure, built between 1824 and 1857, was used from 1834 to 1950, including housing the Naval Academy during the Civil War. Fort Adams has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and the restoration effort has received funding from foundations, the Save America's Treasures program and the State.

Public and private sector partners are generating additional funding and support by using the fort and its grounds for community events and recreation, with the goal of completing the restoration of the fort and enhancing its function as a living history museum. Daily tours, programs for school groups, reenactments, and cultural programs have helped visitation to rise sharply, to more than 30,000 visitors annually.

For more information

Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.gonewport.com

Fort Adams: www.fortadams.org

Posted March 16, 2009

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