Planning Your Visit FAQ
How do I get to Fort Adams?
Fort Adams is located at the north end of the peninsula that is Fort Adams State Park. The Park has ample free parking and may be accessed by both car and boat. Directions to Fort Adams.
What are the hours of operation?
Fort Adams State park is open sunrise to sunset. Historic Fort Adams is open daily (mid-May to October) from 10am to 4pm. Hour-long guided tours depart at the top of every hour. About activities at the Fort.
How much of the Fort can I see?
Guided Tours of Fort Adams take you from the top of the Fort walls to the depth of the underground tunnels. There is more than one way to tour Fort Adams For views of the exterior walls we encourage you to enjoy the Fort Adams Bay Walk, a 2.25 mile walk around the entire park, open year round. Do to safety concerns self guided tours are not available.
How long is the Tour?
All our guided tours involve nearly one mile of walking in a mostly outdoor environment. Our hourly overview tours last approx one hour while, our specialty tours can last as long as 90 minutes.
Why are there areas in the fort that are off limits?
For over 180 years this Fortress has proudly stood guard at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay. Nevertheless time, weather and the elements have taken their toll on many of the superficial (and some structural) elements of the Fort. Efforts have been made to fence off and guard you from entering many areas deemed unsafe for public access.
While on guided tours you may enter some of these spaces. You are not permitted to bypass any of the gates or fences to enter these areas by yourself. Areas inaccessible without a guided tour include: The East Wall officers quarters, the south wall casemates the outworks and most of the West Wall.
Is there food in the park?
During the summer, there is a food concessioner near the parks beach (near Sail Newport) as well as a selection of light snacks and drinks available in the Fort Gift Shop. If you wish to bring your own food, Fort Adams State Park has acres of beautiful picnic areas. (Carry in-carry-out)
Where can I park my car?
Fort Adams State Park has ample free parking directly in front of the Fort’s main entrance. Overnight parking passes are available for purchase in the Park Visitor Center.
Where can I tie up my boat?
There is a courtesy dock in front of the park visitor center available for pickups and drop offs. For mooring and dock space please contact Sail Newport.
Can I use my National Park Gold Pass?
Unfortunately no. While Fort Adams is a National Historic Landmark, it is not part of the National Park system. Fort Adams is located in a State Park and is operated by the non-profit organization The Fort Adams Trust. While we do not accept the Gold Pass we are happy to stamp your passports in our gift shop.
When was Fort Adams built?
The current Fort Adams built between 1824 and 1857, replaced the previous fort built in 1799. Most of the work on this second fort was completed by 1841 when it was first garrisoned.
Additions, like the second floor brick barracks continued through the 1920’s. The previous Fort Adams was built between 1798 and 1800. The old fort was dismantled when the new fort was built.
Who built Fort Adams?
Fort Adams was designed by Simon Bernard, a French military engineer, who served under Napoleon. Bernard came to the United States in 1819 to help the Army plan the nation’s coast defenses.
Colonel Joseph Totten, a graduate of West Point, personally supervised the construction of the Fort from 1825 until 1838. Later Totten was promoted to general and became the Chief Engineer of the Army.
Alexander MacGregor, a master stone mason from Scotland, was in charge of the extensive masonry construction of the Fort. The labor force consisted of up to 500 Irish immigrants who were the first permanent group of Irish Catholics to settle in Rhode Island.
How long was the Fort active?
Off and on for about 150 years. The first Fort was manned from 1799 to 1802 and from 1814 to 1821. Construction on the fort standing today started in 1824. This Fort was garrisoned from 1841- 1952.
Were any battles fought here?
During the Revolution, before Fort Adams was built there was a small battery of six guns on this site. They engaged British warships on two occasions in May of 1776 and both times drove the ships away. The existing Fort Adams was never attacked, in part because the Fort was so powerful that no one ever dared attack it.
What happened to all the cannons?
The Fort Adams Trust has seven original 24 pound cannons in the collection. These cannons are called 24 pounders because that was the weight of the cannon ball they fired. Statistics for a navy 24 pound cannon:
Length: 9 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 5,488 pounds
Caliber of gun: 5.83 in
Caliber of projectile: 5.54 in.
Weight of charge: 4 to 6 pounds
Types of projectiles: 24 pound round shot, grape shot, chain shot, and case or canister shot
Range: 300 – 400 yards.
Six cannon barrels have been laid next to the West Wall, while a seventh has been mounted on a recreated carriage on display in the North Casemates Exhibit space. It is believed that most were sold for scrap when they became obsolete.
There are two surviving 20th Century guns known to have come from Fort Adams. One is in Newport’s Equality Park on Broadway. The second was transferred to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina.
The guns, 4.72 inch Armstrong Rifles, were installed at Battery Talbot, to the South of the main Fort, in 1899. In 1917 they were sent to Sachuest Point in Middletown to defend the Sakonnet River during the First World War.
In 1923 one was emplaced at Equality Park and the other at the Westerly Armory. In the 1960’s the gun at the Westerly Armory was traded for an 8-inch Parrott rifle from Fort Moultrie.
What are the plans to restore the Fort?
In 2010, under the direction of Ann Beha Architects of Boston, the Fort Adams Trust created a new Master Plan for the Fort’s restoration.
In lieu of total restoration, this plan envisions restoring the Fort in phases which will be selected based upon the availability of funds for restoration.
The first phase, dubbed “Open the Fort,” was the stabilization and restoration of the Fort’s Parade Field for self guided tours. Learn more at our restoration photo gallery.
Is it true the Fort has 25 miles of tunnels?
Not likely. While there may exist (or may have existed) tunnels that are not known to us today, somewhere between .5 miles and 1 mile of tunnels is closer to the truth. You can enter some of this tunnel system on tour.
Is it true that there is a tunnel going out to Fort Wetherill in Jamestown?
No evidence has been found to support a theory of a tunnel to Jamestown. This is a rumor which has persisted for over 60 years.
There was a communications cable gallery which led under water so that the two forts could communicate. This is possibly the origin of the tunnel rumor.
The East Passage is about 150 feet deep. To build a tunnel under it would be extremely expensive and would not have likely justified its expense.
What famous people were stationed here?
Brigadier General Robert Anderson, commander and hero of the defense of Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War was stationed here. He remained for only two months prior to the end of the Civil War.
Major General Ambrose Burnside, senior officer from Rhode Island, was here as a lieutenant prior to the Civil War. He later became the Governor for and Senator from Rhode Island
Major General Henry Jackson Hunt – Commanded the artillery of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. Commanded the fort after the war.
General Lyman Lemnitzer was station here as his first assignment after graduating from West Point in 1922. He went on to become Chief of Staff of the Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Supreme Allied Commander for NATO. He is the only person in history to have held all three positions.
What presidents have visited Fort Adams?
- James Monroe – 1817
- John Quincy Adams – 1826
- Andrew Jackson – 1833
- Martin VanBuren – Visited with
- Jackson while Vice-President in 1833.
- Franklin Pierce – While a general during the Mexican War in 1845.
- Chester A. Arthur – 1882
- Dwight Eisenhower – Vacationed at Fort Adams consistently during his Presidency. It was a favored Summer White House from 1958 – 1960. He actually resided at the Eisenhower House.
- Bill Clinton – December 3rd, 1998
- Ulysses Grant
- John F. Kennedy
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