In the years since Newport was founded in 1639, people have arrived here on the doorstep of the Atlantic from every corner of the world. This city was settled on the principles of religious freedom, welcoming groups from myriad faiths including early congregations of Quakers, Christians, Baptists, and Jews as far back as the 1600s. Their historic houses of faith are extraordinary symbols of American freedom and architecture, with many listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

See these special places, including Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in America (1763); Trinity Church (1726), St. Mary’s Church (best known as the place where John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married) and the United Congregational Church (built in 1857 and best known for its John La Farge-designed stained glass windows and murals).

 

 

COVID-19 NOTE:

When you're ready, we can't wait to welcome you back to The Classic Coast. Rest assured, local restaurants, shops, and businesses are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of all. This includes wearing mandatory face coverings, following guidelines put in place by health and government officials, and implementing stringent cleaning practices.

All we ask when you land on these shores is that you play your part in keeping everyone safe. Please be kind, wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain six feet of social distancing from others.

 

 

 

 

Four Enduring Faiths, Four Remarkable Landmarks

Please Note: Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions, this tour is temporarily paused. 

Newport's various sectors of religious history come together during Four Enduring Faiths, Four Remarkable Landmarks, a look at four of the city's historic houses of worship. Begin your journey at Touro Synagogue, the oldest Jewish House of Worship in the United States, then make your way to Trinity Episcopal Church, Rhode Island's oldest Episcopal congregation and Newport Congregational Church, where you'll learn about John LaFarge and his contribution to the church's breathtaking opalescent stained glass windows. Finally, end at St. Mary's Church, Rhode Island's oldest Catholic Parish and the place where Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy were married.

 

When: Third Monday of the month, June - September, 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Departs from the Loeb Visitors Center, 50 Spring Street, Newport
Admission: $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students

 

For more information visit www.4faiths.org

 

 

 

Return to Camelot: Jackie & JFK's Newport Wedding

Please Note: Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions, this tour is temporarily paused. 

Perhaps one of the most iconic weddings to take place in Newport was that of Jacqueline Bouvier to Senator John F. Kennedy in September of 1953. The couple wed at St. Mary's historic landmark before 600 friends, family, diplomats, and senators, while outside 2,000 society fans waited to greet the new Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy. Following the ceremony, 1,300 guests joined the two newly weds for a reception at Jackie's childhood summer home at Hammersmith Farm.

Today, you have the opportunity to Return to Camelot on a tour through St. Mary's Church, previously been closed to the public, commemorating the memorable Kennedy wedding. Listen as the music from their nuptial mass and "first dance," performed by St. May's music director, fills the church, and watch a video montage of vintage footage from the wedding and reception, along with an exclusive interview with Yusha Auchincloss III, Jackie's stepbrother.

 

  • When: Tuesday through October, 3:00 - 3:45 PM
  • Location: St. Mary's Church
  • Admission: $15

 

For more information visit http://www.returntocamelot.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSES OF WORSHIP TO EXPLORE

 

TOURO SYNAGOGUE

Built between 1759 and 1763, the Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue building in North America and the only surviving synagogue building in the U.S. dating to the colonial era. It was designed by notable British architect Peter Harrison and is considered his most notable work. 

The building still operates as a functioning house of worship, so make sure to time your visit and tour accordingly. 

 

TOURS:

Visit the grounds of Touro Synagogue and enjoy history presentations in the park. Learn why Touro Synagogue is considered one of the most architecturally distinguished buildings of 18th century America and why it stands as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans.

When: Starting May 2, seated presentations begin every half hour from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM Fridays, Sundays and Mondays 
Admission: $5

*Note: Buildings remain closed and there is no program on Monday, May 17.

 
MORE DETAILS

 

 

 

ST. MARY'S CHURCH

The oldest Roman Catholic church in Rhode Island, St. Mary's Church was built in 1848 in response to the large population of Irish-Catholics that immigrated from Ireland, drawn by available work during the construction of Fort Adams, and at the coal mines in neighboring Portsmouth.

St. Mary's served as the chapel for the naval academy during the Civil War from 1861-1865, and is also the place where John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier said "I do" on September 12, 1953. The two wed at St. Mary's before 600 friends, family, diplomats, and senators, while outside, 2,000 society fans waited to greet the new Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy.

 

TOURS:

Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions, tours at St. Mary's Church are temporarily paused. 

 

MORE DETAILS

 

 

 

NEWPORT CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

The Newport Congregational church was designed by Joseph C. Wells, and constructed between 1855-1857 at the corner of Spring and Pelham streets in an early Romanesque style. It is most well-known for it's opalescent stained-glass windows and murals on its ceilings painted and fitted by John La Farge in 1880. Built of Connecticut brownstone, the church served the spiritual needs of the Congregational community into the 21st century. The church remains the only surviving comprehensive interior designed by La Farge and is currently undergoing a multi-year restoration under the auspices of the nonprofit La Farge Restoration Fund.

 

TOURS:

Group talks and individual visits can be arranged by contacting Andy Long at 401-619-5109 or alongthe@hotmail.com.

 

MORE DETAILS

 

 

 

 

TRINITY CHURCH

Trinity Church has a long history of worship, dating back nearly 300 years to 1726. It has since served as the place of worship for George Washington (commemorated by a plaque placed in his favorite pew), the filming location for Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and today is home to the only center-aisle, freestanding, triple-decked pulpit left in America. 

Pro tip: Keep an eye out for box pew on the south side of the main aisle, adjacent to the Clerk's Desk, ornamented with engraved silver plaques. It commemorates famous visitors seated there. The earliest is George Washington; others include Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah. 

 

TOURS:

Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines and restrictions, tours at Trinity Church are temporarily paused. 

 

MORE DETAILS

 

 

 

 

*BONUS PROPERTY

GREAT FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE

The Great Friends Meeting House, built in 1699, is the oldest surviving house of worship in Rhode Island. Quakers, as they were known, were the most influential of Newport’s numerous early congregations and an often persecuted group. Perceived as a radical threat to the stability of New England society, they were whipped, driven from other colonies, and sometimes, like Mary Dyer, the well-known Newport Quaker, executed for their beliefs. Eventually, they learned to temper their actions, and came to dominate political, social, and economic life into the 18th century. Their “plain style” of living was reflected in Newport’s architecture and early landscape. 

The meeting house the Friends constructed in 1699 was a reflection of their status within the Newport community. According to the Newport Historical Society, it was largest and most recognizable building in town, and throughout the 1700s it appeared as a landmark in maps and painted landscapes of Newport. 

 

TOURS:

Great Friends Meeting House is not open for public tours, however you can visit the exterior of the property at the corner of Farewell and Marlborough streets. 

 

 

 

MORE TO EXPLORE

 

 

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