The 1820s were tough times for Newport. No longer was the harbor the international entrepôt that it had been during the colonial era. The mills along Thames Street were yet to be built and summer visitors were scarce. Yet, in 1828 Benedict Fenwick, Bishop of Boston, procured a lot of land with a schoolhouse on Barney Street in Newport, thus creating Rhode Island’s first Catholic Church. There is a great deal of mystery and controversy surrounding this schoolhouse/church but the church and the individuals that worshiped in it, would inevitably change the course of Newport History.
With the help of sacramental records, contemporary newspapers and genealogical sources, we will attempt to shed some light on the early history of the Newport Irish community.
STEVE MARINO taught history in Connecticut for 35 years and retired to Newport. He has been giving tours at Fort Adams since 2008. He is also on the Board of the Museum of Newport Irish History. Steve holds degrees from Williams College, Brown University and the Hartford Seminary. This is Steve’s third presentation to our membership.