Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

Students experience nearly two centuries of American history, military culture, architecture and engineering at Fort Adams — a National Historic Landmark in Newport, Rhode Island.

Whether arriving from downtown Newport or by ferry from the village of Jamestown, Fort Adams makes an impression as it dominates the entrance into Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. It is an American interpretation of 19th-century French military architecture.

The first fortifications date to 1799 as part of a network of battlements to defend Narragansett Bay. The star-shaped stone walls teem with military history; the fort was garrisoned in the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.

 “Whether a group is looking for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour, a peek inside or anything in between, we can customize the visit to meet learning objectives,” said Robert McCormack, director of visitor experience.

Guided visits take about one hour and invite students to draw connections between the fort’s structural features and military strategy.

Fort Adams overlook
Students at northeast bastion overlook, Fort Adams, Newport, R.I.
Credit: Fort Adams State Park

Students stroll the 6½-acre parade field and walk through the complex outer works that helped defend against land attack. A survey of the ramparts provides a panoramic view of the harbor while students consider how the placement of cannons might deter hostile naval forces.

“Students find the listening tunnels beneath the walls of the fort fascinating,” McCormack said. “Soldiers would have used these tunnels to detect signs of the enemy forces mining under the walls in a siege situation.”

The fort also tells the stories of the people who lived and worked there. Tours include an inspection of the Officer’s Quarters. Exhibits provide insight into training, responsibilities and daily routine of ordinary soldiers.

“Groups have the opportunity to spend the night in the barracks or in a tent under the stars.” McCormack said. The Overnights Barracks includes modern bathrooms, a common room with a kitchen, three bunk rooms and chaperone quarters.

Youth groups can arrange to participate in a service project at the fort to help preserve the historic area through a variety of clean-up projects.

For more about Fort Adams, call 401-619-5802 or go to fortadams.org.

Article by Michael McLaughlin