Plans are underway to replace the sign that once marked the section of Newport’s historic Common Burying Ground known as God’s Little Acre. The previous sign, lost in a storm in 2011, marked the largest and oldest extant burial ground for enslaved and free Africans in colonial America. Designed by long time Newport residents Theresa and Keith Stokes, the sign helped cemetery visitors locate the section and enhanced their experience. The new sign will be based on the previous one but crafted from materials able to withstand the local weather conditions.
Under the advice of the Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission, the city hopes to have the new sign in place the summer of 2017, but the project needs donations from the public. The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society has pledged about half of the needed funds as a challenge grant for the Newport community to raise the balance for the $3,750.00 sign.
If you would like to contribute to this effort, please make checks out to “Public Services Gift Fund”, please note that the donation is for the God’s Little Acre sign, and send in care of Scott Wheeler, City of Newport, 280 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840. Questions about the project should also be directed to Scott at phone: (401) 845-5802 or email: swheeler@CityofNewport.com
Be sure to visit the Common Burying Ground this Saturday, April 15 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. when members of the city’s Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission will debut a self-guided tour of the grounds highlighting more than a dozen notable people or stones. The Common Burying Grounds may well be the most historic burial site in the state, if not New England. It covers ten acres of land and is the resting place of about 8000 people from all aspects of Newport’s history.