Friends of Island Cemetery, Newport Historical Society, Belmont Chapel Foundation, and the Newport Restoration Foundation are coming together to offer tours of Newport’s historic cemeteries.

By decree of RI House Resolution H7350, approved in January 2016, Saturday, April 16, 2016, is officially “RI Historic Cemetery Restoration & Awareness Day.” To commemorate the day and draw attention to ongoing preservation efforts, free of charge walking tours will take place at both the Common Burying Ground and the Island Cemetery. This pair of cemeteries were added to the National Register of Historic Places as a single listing in 1974.

The Common Burying Ground tour , conducted by Newport History Tours, a collaboration of the Newport Historical Society and the Newport Restoration Foundation, departs promptly at 1pm from Brick Market: Newport History Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, at the foot of Washington Square. Your guide will share stories of the early stone carvers whose work remains all these hundreds of years later, and tell you about the diverse assemblage, from William Ellery to Ida Lewis, all buried in this noteworthy place. The tour includes a visit to “God’s Little Acre,” possibly the oldest and largest surviving collection of markers of enslaved and free Africans in America.

Immediately following, the Island Cemetery will step off from the administration building located at 30 Warner Street. Hosted by the newly formed group, Friends of the Island Cemetery, a tour of the adjacent historic cultural landscape, will step off at approximately, 2:30pm. Within the gates of this renown private cemetery rest many of Rhode Island’s first families. Such notable characters as the legendary brothers, Oliver Hazard and Matthew Calbraith Perry, architect Richard Morris Hunt, and famed financier August Belmont, are among the many prominent people interred there. This narrated walking tour is an exceptional opportunity for those interested in Newport history, art, preservation, genealogy, or who wish to experience the beauty of these unique historic landscapes.

An added rare glimpse of recently stabilized Belmont Chapel will be included in the Island Cemetery tour. The Belmont Chapel Foundation, a group formed to raise awareness and funding to restore the historic chapel, www.belmontchapelfoundation.org/chapel-history/, will open their doors for tour members to view the historic interior, graced with one of a kind artwork and architectural details.

Common Burying Ground Tour reservations may be made online HERE or call 401-841-8770.

Reservations for the Friends of Island Cemetery/Belmont Chapel tour may be arranged by contacting, Matt McEntee, 847-4646, matt.mcentee.ri@gmail.com Reservations are strongly suggested for both tours.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.