The Old Stone Mill (Newport Tower) in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, August 1854

We speak of the old days of Newport, and of its vanished glories. But there remains one monument which interests the poet, the antiquarian, the traveler, the controversialist, the divine; of which sweet songs have been sung, wild theories spun, and happy hoaxes invented. It is the "stem round tower of other days," the Newport ruin, the old mill. […] It tells no story itself, but it is suggestive of romantic legend, although there can be little doubt that it is only an old mill. […] The society of Danish Antiquaries at Copenhagen had, upon the reception of some imperfect drawings, hastily decided that it was probably built in the twelfth century by the Northmen who coasted along the New England shore, and called the country Vinland, from the abundance of grapes. It is upon this romantic hint, and the discovery of "a skeleton in armor" at Fall River, upon the main near Newport, that Longfellow has founded his heroic ballad of the same name.

[…]The earliest settlers make no mention of it, and this is quite sufficient proof of its erection since that period, as the original settlement of the town was very near the site of the building, and so remarkable an object would not have escaped mention by some of the profuse diarists of the times. […] In 1653, Benedict Arnold […] came to Newport from Providence [… ]He settled in Newport, and was presently made Governor. He built a house upon a lot of sixteen acres […] the eastern part of which includes the mill. […]His will is dated 20th December, 1677, and speaks of the lot upon which stands "my stone-built wind-mill." […]

Mr. Joseph Mumford stated, in l834, when he was eighty years old, that his father was born in 1699, and always spoke of the building as a powder-mill, and he himself remembered that in his boyhood, say in 1760, it was used as a hay-mow. John Langley, another octogenarian, remembered hearing his father say, that when he was a boy, which must have been early in the eighteenth century, he carried corn to the mill to be ground. Edward Pelham, who married Arnold's granddaughter, in his will, dated in 1740, calls it "an old stone wind-mill."

[…]It was built of stone […] because the material was ample and accessible. The shells, sand, and gravel for lime were equally convenient to use. In the year 1848, some mortar from an old stone-house in Spring Street, built by Henry Bull in 1639, from the tomb of Governor Benedict Arnold, and from various other old buildings, was compared with the mortar of the old mill, and found to be identical in quality and character.

Source: George William Curtis, "Newport: Historical and Social," Harper's New Monthly Magazine 9 (August 31, 1854): 314-315.

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