In a special celebration of freedom of religion, twelve of Newport’s historic houses of worship and the old Colony House will be open to the public this coming Fourth of July. The “First Freedom Open House Tour” offers visitors an opportunity to see some of America’s most significant religious buildings and to learn about congregations that were important in the nation’s religious history.

This event is sponsored by “Four Faiths, Four Landmarks,” an organization that offers a summertime walking tour of four historic houses of worship and is made possible by generous support from Discover Newport as well as the participating houses of worship.

Visitors will be given a ‘passport’ to guide them from site to site. Open house hours vary, so please check the times listed below.

1. Channing Memorial Unitarian Church
135 Pelham Street
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Building honors William Ellery Channing and features stained glass by John LaFarge and others

2. Emmanuel Episcopal Church
42 Dearborn St
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Known as “Church of the people,” where “rich and poor, high and low, great and humble” worshipped.

3. First Presbyterian Church
4 Everett St.
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
RI’s oldest Presbyterian church has 60 magnificent stained glass windows in a beautiful stone structure

4. Great Friends Meeting House
21 Farewell St.
Open 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
The oldest standing house of worship in Rhode Island, built in 1699

5. Mount Zion AME Church
101 Van Zandt Ave.
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
The oldest African American church in Newport with a specific denominational affiliation.

6. Newport Congregational Church
73 Pelham St.
Open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Built in 1857 and featuring artwork by renowned painter/stained glass artist John LaFarge

7. St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church
61 Washington St.
Open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Beautiful stained glass windows adorn an impressive stone church founded by people of modest means

8. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
5 Mann Ave.
Open 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Newport’s second Catholic parish moved to this stunning building on Broadway in 1912

9. St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
12 Marlborough St.
Open 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm
Believed to be the first Methodist church in the world with a steeple and a bell

10. 7th Day Baptist Meeting House
82 Touro St. (enter on Barney St.)
Open 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
One of the first 7th Day Baptist meeting houses in America, built in 1730

11. Touro Synagogue
72 Touro St. (enter 52 Spring St.)
Open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Oldest synagogue in America; designed by Peter Harrison, America’s first great architect

12. Trinity Episcopal Church
141 Spring St.
Open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Oldest Episcopal parish in Rhode Island; current church built in 1726 by master builder Richard Munday

13. Colony House
Washington Square
Open 10:00 am to 12:00 noon
Believed to be the site of first Catholic mass in Rhode Island in 1780

Some of the historic buildings near Washington Square will be open during Newport’s annual 4th of July community celebration, while others will open or remain open after the community events end at noon. The annual 4th on the Square includes music, activities, the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence from the place it was read in July of 1776, and a 21-gun cannon salute by the Newport Artillery Company using four Paul Revere cannon.

For more information, visit

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).