Research and Projects

Cultural and Historic Preservation

Narragansett Bay Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Project

Rose Island

As part of the Narragansett Bay Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Project and the Rose Island Field School, students have spent two summers researching the history of Rose Island, which is located in Newport Harbor. In the summer of 2021, they researched the history of the early 19th-century barracks on the island, which were intended to be part of Fort Hamilton, one of the defensive positions for Newport Harbor along with Fort Adams and Fort Wolcott. The latter was located on Goat Island but no longer survives.

In the summer of 2022, with funding from the Southeastern New England Educational and Charitable Foundation, students investigated the role Rose Island played as part of the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport. The Naval Torpedo Station was established on Goat Island in 1869. By 1883, Rose Island became part of the Naval Torpedo Station and was used for the storage of gun cotton. From 1883 through World War II, the island was used as a storage dump for explosives and as a torpedo warhead arming facility.

Newport Elks Lodge

Elks Lodge

Our program partnered with the Newport Elks Lodge to research the history of the building and the lodge. The Newport Elks Lodge was founded in 1888 and has occupied its current building on Bellevue Avenue since 1920. The building itself, “Parkgate,” was constructed in 1879 and sits on the site of the former Atlantic House (1844-1877). The research could potentially help the lodge with grant applications for much-needed restoration work on the building but will also form a framework for the history of the lodge and its members.  

Vanderbilt Memorial

Vanderbilt Memorial

Our program partnered with the Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Memorial Restoration Committee to research the history of the Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Memorial, which is located on Broadway across from Equality Park. The monument was erected in 1917 to commemorate Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who died in 1915 during the sinking of the Lusitania. Our goal is to make the research public using a QR code placed by the monument and ultimately conduct similar research for all public monuments in Newport.

Student Research Projects

Our students pursue significant undergraduate research through the completion of their senior theses. Recent topics have included:

  • “The Adaptive Reuse of Prisons”
  • “Nineteenth-Century Ceramics in Newport: Finds from the Historic Newport Spring, a Study of Trade and Class”
  • “Geothermal Technology in House Museums: Focus on the Preservation Society of Newport County”
  • “Life After Light: The Adaptive Reuse of Long Island Lighthouses”
  • “Mothers of Preservation: The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association’s Preservation, Restoration of Mount Vernon and its Legacy”
  • “Historic Homes and Energy Efficiency: Creating Synonymity and Proposing Solutions”
  • “From Behind the Balustrades: A Closer Look into Hopedene’s Shrouded Past and Reserved Beauty”
  • “Robert Adam Interiors and Wakehurst’s Yellow Drawing Room: Imported Period Rooms in the United States”
  • “History Lives: An Exploration of Interpretation Within Living History”
  • “A Changing Relationship in Archaeology: Exploring the Importance of Indigenous People in Research”
  • “The Threat of Rising Seas: How Climate Change is Affecting Preservation”
  • “Setting the Stage: The Adaptive Reuse of New England Opera Houses”