Sights ~ Old Stone Mill, Newport

Old Stone Mill
Touro Park
Newport, Rhode Island

Old Stone Mill

This strange structure is known by many names. According to Wikipedia, people call it Newport Tower, Round Tower, Touro Tower, Newport Stone Tower, Old Stone Mill, OSM and Mystery Tower.

There are no specific records about when or why it was built, so legends have built up around it. People speculate that it was a mill, an observatory, and a watchtower, built by English settlers, or Norse, Chinese or Scots visitors to the area. The Scots would also have been Knights Templar.

Current archaeological research indicates that it was probably a windmill built by Benedict Arnold (not the one you think, his great-grandfather) sometime after 1667. Arnold owned the land on which the tower sits. It's been used as a hayloft and powder store, among other things.

Despite pretty conclusive evidence including carbon 14 dating and mentions in some historic documents, people persist on believing their favorite myth, whichever that may be.

Old Stone Mill

Recently a Norwegian named Bernt Holmboe KIafstad wrote a letter to the City of Newport, claiming that the structure bears a strong resemblance to a tower built in the Holy Land, and that the area may have been visited in the 12th century by Henricus Gnupsson Upsi, a Greenlandic bishop. Indeed Verrezano, when visiting the area in the 1500s, noted that the native population made wine "in the European fashion," a skill KIafstad asserts they may have learned from Upsi's party. For those on the fence, this puts the Norse theory back in play.

When Bear and I saw the tower, neither of us had enough expertise to take a guess about its origin. We're content to wonder. The mystery only adds to its appeal.


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