Our last post revealed some of the best spots to watch sunsets in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the top places listed was the famous Rose Island Lighthouse located right in Narragansett Bay, along the span of the Newport Bridge.
The historic working lighthouse, built in 1869, sits on an 18-acre island off of the Newport coast, and is easily accessible via the Newport-Jamestown Ferry. Guests may also visit Rose Island by their own boat if they choose.
Guests can enjoy the grounds around the lighthouse itself, walk the beaches below, and tour the historic lighthouse. From July to Labor Day, the lighthouse museum is open to the public between the hours of 10:00am-4:00pm. Visitors are welcome to bring their own refreshments and enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic tables.
Rose Island and the Lighthouse History
Rose Island has had an important history on Narragansett Bay due to its strategic location at the entrance to the Newport Harbor. At the time of the American Revolution, both colonial and British troops occupied the island, at different times, to defend Newport. During the First and Second World Wars, Rose Island was occupied by the US Navy and was used to store torpedoes, manufactured at the Newport torpedo factory on nearby Goat Island, safely away from the mainland.
The wood-framed Rose Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1869 atop the remains of the 18th century Fort Hamilton’s south gun battery, and was activated in January, 1870. Because of its proximity to Newport, Rose Island was more accessible than many other lighthouse stations of its time. Lighthouse keepers on duty there, still had to deal with extreme weather, creative provisioning, and isolation at times.
When the Newport Bridge opened in 1969, the Rose Island Lighthouse became obsolete and in 1971 Rose Island was deactivated. For a period of time during the 1970’s the lighthouse and Rose Island were under the stewardship of the University of Rhode Island and used for marine research. Ultimately, however, the school was unable to maintain the facilities, and the badly vandalized lighthouse was returned to the federal government. In 1984, when the lighthouse was declared surplus property, the city of Newport took it over.
After several failed attempts by private investors to develop Rose Island as an island resort during the 1980’s, a local group was formed to protect and preserve the lighthouse and the history of Rose Island. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation, with support from both public and private funding, completely restored the lighthouse and in 1992 the lighthouse was opened to the public. In 1993 the landmark lighthouse was finally relit, becoming one of the only few operating lighthouses maintained solely by dedicated and passionate volunteers.
Throughout the summer season, guests are welcome to take a guided tour throughout the lighthouse grounds. The lighthouse museum allows guests to step into each fully restored room that looks and feels as if the keepers still live there.
Admission for the lighthouse tour is $5 for adults and $4 for children ages of 6-12 and seniors 65 and older. Admission is free for Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation members or children under the age of five.
If you’re looking to visit the lighthouse between September and June feel free to contact the lighthouse’s office to set up the appropriate arrangements.
The lighthouse does offer educational programs, overnight or weekend stays, and group tours for those interested.
Traveling to the Lighthouse
The best way to travel to the Rose Island Lighthouse is by the Newport-Jamestown Ferry. For a list of the ferry schedules see the Newport-Jamestown Ferry schedule to the Rose Island Lighthouse. *Tip: If you travel by ferry, you’ll receive a $1 discount upon arrival!
If you own your own boat you’re welcome to tie up at the dock. If you have a small sailing craft, canoes, or kayaks you can land on the beaches near the lighthouse.
Pack Your Bags
It would be a pleasure for us to have you stay at our Inn when visiting the historic and romantic Rose Island Lighthouse. The Cliffside Inn is located only a mile from the Newport-Jamestown Ferry stop.
Make sure to book your stay before the summer ends! We look forward to having you stay with us on your journey to the Rose Island Lighthouse.
Photo Credit: CC Image Courtesy of Barbara Eckstein