Established in 1639 by a small band of religious dissenters led by William Coddington and Nicholas Easton, Newport became a haven for those who believed in religious freedom. The deepwater harbor at the mouth of Narragansett Bay ensured its success as a leading Colonial port, and a building boom produced hundreds of houses and many landmarks that still survive today. These include the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House and the White Horse Tavern, both built during the 17th century, plus Trinity Episcopal Church, Touro Synagogue, the Colony House, and the Redwood Library, all built in the 18th century.
War and Peace
British troops occupied Newport from 1776 to 1779, causing half the city's population to flee and ending a golden age of prosperity. The economic downturn that followed peace may not have been so great for its citizens, but it certainly played a part in preserving Newport's architectural heritage, as few owners had the capital to raze buildings and replace them with bigger and better ones.