2018-08-09 / Opinion

Liberty Square Location not Relevant

To the Editor:

The Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project is planning to locate their monument or Port Marker in Liberty Square. Here is my Liberty Square Memorandum consisting of a letter written in 1956 by Mrs. Gladys Bolhouse, Curatorial Secretary of the Newport Historical Society to Mr. Emil Jamail, Editor of the Newport Daily News. This memorandum was sent last Fall to Principal Victoria Johnson, Chairperson of the NMPPM Project and to Lynn Underwood Ceglie, Vice Chair, 2nd Ward Councilor. As my representative and since Liberty Square is in the 2nd Ward, I asked Ms. Ceglie, "Please include this research information in your deliberations concerning Liberty Square vis à vis the formal request before City Council from the Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project."

This memo was intended to discourage the use of Liberty Square from any purpose other than its original intention, as specified in this correspondence from Mrs.Bolhouse.

The record of the little park which is in back of the Armed Services YMCA is in the Town Meeting Records Vol. 2 pg. 53 which are now in the Vault at the Newport Historical Society. The entry dated 1748, reads as follows:

"Several of the Inhabitants of the Town have petitioned to the Quarter Meeting this day setting forth that the piece of land lying between the houses of Jonathan Nichol. Benjamin Thurston, was many years past bought [space] Maj. Nathaniel Sheffield & Mr. Daniel Thurston of Mr. Jonathan [gone] by them given to the Town of Newport as a Common for a Mustering place for the Melecha (Militia) free and clear from all encumbrances forever but the [space] not now to be found and they desiring [space] record made that piece of land or common shall be and remain for the use before mentioned forever which said petition being read in the Quarter Meeting it was Voted that land shall lye and be and remain a perpetual common for the use before mentioned forever."

The triangular place where the fountain was located at the southernmost section of Eisenhower Park in Newport's Washington Square, where the Newport Town School House stood should be the best designated location for Newport's Middle Passage Port Marker Monument, not Liberty Square.

G. Brian Sullivan, Ph.D.

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