Nick De Pace (kneeling), an expert in ancient infrastructural systems and on the faculty of RISD, inspects the newly-discovered structure. Onlookers include Neill Coffey and representatives from the Newport Spring Committee, Newport Historical Society, Church Community Housing Corporation and Newport Fire Department

As a result the recent discovery of a significant underground stone structure at the Newport Spring site (the former Coffey’s gas station), the Historic Newport Town Spring Committee is pleased to announce that an archaeology study of the structure and surrounding area will be conducted this March.


Formed in 2014, the Newport Spring Committee’s goals are to preserve the site around which the city was founded on the premise of religious freedom. Once complete, the site will be preserved as open space in perpetuity and its historical significance interpreted in a manner that allows civic enjoyment, improves public pedestrian and motor vehicle safety and fosters cultural and economic vitality.  To date, more than $1 million in individual, foundation and corporate donations has been invested to purchase the site, develop a community-focused site plan and conduct environmental remediation.

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In November 2017, during environmental remediation work at the site, an underground water-filled structure was found.  With the help of the Newport Fire Department, a significant amount of water was pumped out of the structure, revealing a stone, cistern-like structure.  Initial inspections of the underground site indicate that it may be quite old, warranting further investigation and documentation by experts.


The Historic Newport Spring Town Project is collaborating with the Newport Historical Society and a team of archaeology experts to document and study the site, to include:

– Roma Sotterranea, an Italian organization specializing in the study of urban speleology, which will be sending a team of experts in subterranean water structures to evaluate the materials, construction and age of the structure.

– Dr. Jon Marcoux of Salve Regina’s Noreen Stoner Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation Program, who will conduct a ground-penetrating radar study at the site and surrounding area, and whose local students will participate with Roma Sotteranea in documenting the structure.

The archaeology study will begin the week of March 12th.  A public presentation of the findings will be made at 5:30 PM on Thursday, March 15. (Location to be announced.)  Additional information about the study and the presentation will be posted to the Project’s website ( as it becomes available.

The need to explore and document this important discovery is the cause for some delay of the project completion.  This delay and archeology study has added an unexpected additional cost of $80,000 to the project budget.  The Newport Spring Committee is seeking donations to help fund this Interim Exploratory Phase.  Donations may be made to the Newport Spring Fund. c/o the Church Community Corporation (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization), 50 Washington Square, Newport, RI 02840 or online at

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