Touro Synagogue

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

The Newport Historic District

The Newport Historic District, which includes Touro Synagogue, covers 250 acres in the center of Newport, Rhode Island. It received National Historic Landmark designation in 1968 due to its unique and large collection of intact colonial buildings. Many sites, five of them National Historic Landmarks in their own right, are contributing properties to the Newport Historic District.

Newport, founded in 1639, served as the Colonial Capital. Known for its religious freedom, Newport welcomed persecuted Quakers from Massachusetts and Sephardic Jews from Portugal. The history of this diverse settlement is well-preserved in the district.

Touro Synagogue

Several Sephardic Jewish families immigrated to Newport in the late 1600s and formed the Jeshuat Israel congregation. They built the Touro Synagogue in 1763. It is the oldest synagogue building in North America and the only one dating back to the colonial era.

We attended a presentation in Touro’s gardens. The docent talked about Touro’s beginnings. She told us the elders transferred the deed to the New York congregation for safekeeping when the revolutionary war broke out. The US courts ruled in 2017 that the New York congregation owns Touro Synagogue.

Touro is an affiliated unit of the National Park Service. The NPS can’t own it because it’s still an active religious institution. But federal covid rules still applied and we were only allowed to view the interior from the threshold.

Newport Area Posts

Location: 85 Touro St, Newport, RI 02840
Designation: National Historic Site
Date designated/established: March 5, 1946
Date of my visit: October 3, 2021

4 thoughts on “Touro Synagogue

Leave a Reply