In the blocks and neighborhoods immediately surrounding the Jailhouse Inn, there are numerous historic sites. These include:
Colony House (two blocks from the Jailhouse)
Built between 1736 and 1739, this handsome brick building with balcony and roof-top balustrades is the fourth oldest statehouse still standing in the United States. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud to citizens from the front steps in July 1776. That tradition is repeated each year during Newport's Fourth of July celebrations, when a reading of the entire Declaration is enjoyed by locals and visitors from around the country and world. The Colony House served as the statehouse for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations until 1901, when the newer white-domed statehouse in Providence opened.
Newport Artillery Company (two blocks from the Jailhouse)
This handsome stone armory, built in 1838, contains a diverse collection of military uniforms and weapons including four bronze cannons cast by Paul Revere in the 1790s. The cannons are rolled out to perform salutes in nearby Washington Square on special occasions such as the Fourth of July.
Great Friends Meeting House (one block from the Jailhouse)
Originally built in 1699, this Quaker meeting house is the oldest surviving house of worship in Rhode Island. Newport is often remembered for things that came later, eg., the Gilded Age with its stunning mansions and yachts, but religious history and freedom played earlier and hugely significant roles in its history. People of diverse religions were welcome here after being turned away elsewhere (frequently by the Puritans in neighboring Massachusetts). Churches of diverse denominations can be seen throughout Newport. Several smaller churches are now private residences.
Jane Pickens Theater (one block from the Jailhouse)
This historic church-turned-cinema is the only movie house in downtown. In addition to presenting current and classic films, it is a Gatsby-esque venue for fundraisers, art exhibits, weddings, birthdays and business events. Built as Zion Episcopal Church in 1834, it was used as a theater by 1919. In 1974, the colorful Jane Pickens and her sister gave a concert in the renovated hall then named for her. Jane was a singer, a star of stage, radio and TV, and a philanthropist. Her third husband, Walter Hoving, headed Tiffany and Co. Jane ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Ed Koch.
Touro Synagogue (three blocks from the Jailhouse)
The oldest synagogue in America, located at the corner of Spring and Touro streets, was named for Isaac Touro of Amsterdam. The building was completed in 1762 with the support of Spanish and Portuguese Jews from Amsterdam and London who had migrated to the Caribbean then settled in Newport around1677. Designated a national historic site in 1946, the synagogue remains an active house of worship. Of note, a letter from George Washington to the congregants of Touro Synagogue is reproduced in bronze in the synagogue's garden, Patriot Park, for all to read and appreciate.
Trinity Church (four blocks from the Jailhouse)
Built in 1725-26 by Richard Munday, Trinity was based upon designs by Sir Christopher Wren and is very similar to the Old North Church in Boston. Home to Newport's earliest Episcopal parish, founded in 1698, the church's interior is remarkable for its box pews and wineglass pulpit. The all-wood, white-spired Trinity, located atop the gently sloping hill of Queen Anne Square, is a central landmark in Newport and has been featured in movies including Amistad, Evening and Moonrise Kingdom.
Just a few blocks farther, but still within walking distance, are many more destinations of historic interest. These include:
Redwood Library & Athenaeum (six blocks from the Jailhouse)
The oldest lending library in America, this beautiful Palladian-inspired building on Bellevue Avenue was the first in that style to be built in the New World. Founded in 1747 by Abraham Redwood and group of friends, it opened in 1750. The design is based on a Roman Doric temple and is said to have influenced Thomas Jefferson. The library was used as an officers club by the British during the Revolutionary War. A membership library and museum open to public, the Redwood has welcomed many prominent members including authors Edith Wharton, Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Julia Ward Howe, and painter Gilbert Stuart.
Newport Art Museum (six blocks from the Jailhouse)
This handsome American "stick-style" home on Bellevue Avenue is a work of art in itself. The Art Association of Newport opened the house — Griswold House, originally built in 1864 by Richard Morris Hunt — as a gallery in 1916. The Museum displays a significant collection of historic local and New England art; it also offers diverse and frequently-changing exhibits featuring current artists. During the summer, NAM hosts numerous events (such as the ever-popular "Wet Paint" each August), and a series of concerts takes place on the lawn.
International Tennis Hall of Fame (eight blocks from the Jailhouse)
The Newport Casino, designed in the 1880s by renowned architects Charles McKim and Stanford White, became home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum in 1954. The museum chronicles the history of the sport and has an extensive, engaging collection of tennis-related memorabilia, art and fashion. The tennis facility features 13 grass courts and hosts the only grass-court professional tournament in North America. Each year, in the closing days of the tournament (typically just after Wimbledon), new inductees are welcomed into the Tennis Hall of Fame. Grass courts may be reserved by visitors for private play.