Coaster’s Island (1858)

Cover-Newport Out of SeasonCoaster’s Island is divided from Newport by a broad inlet. It slopes gradually up from the water, and a large stone building stands in the midst of the green declivity; this is the Newport alms house. As we cross the ferry, propelled by an old salt who has rowed over to the little jetty at our signal, the commanding situation and salubrious exposure of the edifice, excites surprise at its public use. Where land is sold by the foot, as in our large cities, and at prices equally extravagant, it seems remarkable that so eligible a site for a gentleman’s domain should be appropriated to a municipal charity; the island was bequeathed for the purpose by Governor Coddington, the original purchaser of Aquidneck from the aborigines in 1638, and his portrait hangs over the bed where one of his descendants died, the victim of dissolute habits; who found a last asylum in the Hospital founded by his noble ancestor, and sent for this picture, the only item left of his patrimony…

Henry T. Tuckerman, Newport Out of Season, 1858

September 9, 2014