2017-06-29 / Front Page

Fort Adams Trust Works Hard to Expand

By Brooke Constance White

The Fort Adams Trust has been hard at work this past year. Between becoming managers of the Eisenhower House and readying the former “summer White House” for events and free summer tours for Newport County residents, restoring the Southern Redoubt area and applying for grants to fund other restoration projects, the group has had its hands full. Additionally, the hour-long guided tour of the Fort will now include tours of the Fort museum and jail located on the first floor of the Trust’s offices.

Trust Executive Director Joe Dias said that one of the Board of Director’s goals was to think outside the box while expanding and growing the park and its offerings this past year.

“We’ve tried to reinvent ourselves a little bit and it’s worked,” he said. “The great part is that all the revenues we generate, we put back into the park. The money stays right here and goes back into improvement and restoration.”


Director of Visitor Experience Robert McCormack shows a group of visitors the Southern Redoubt at Ford Adams, which was cleaned up last year . 
(Photo by Jen Carter) Director of Visitor Experience Robert McCormack shows a group of visitors the Southern Redoubt at Ford Adams, which was cleaned up last year . (Photo by Jen Carter) Prior to this year, the state’s Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission managed the Eisenhower House property, which is still owned along with the entire park by the state’s Department of Environmental Management. In the last couple of years, the house has undergone a $2.1 million restoration, bringing it back to its former glory and positioning it for many more years of future use.

The building, which was the commanding officer’s quarters from the 1880s to 1960s, was also used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the “summer White House” from 1958 to 1960. He noticed the house on his way to go golfing at Newport Country Club. Seeing as he was the only five-star general who ever called the property home, the name “Eisenhower House” stuck. During the restoration, the commission tried to keep as much of the house as it was. The parts that needed to be repaired or reconstructed were made to look as they would have when it was first built in 1873. The renovations included a new kitchen, improved dressing areas for weddings, a new HVAC system and an elevator so the property is wheelchairaccessible. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Fort Adams Trust became the manager of the Eisenhower House this year and has worked hard to ready the former 'summer White House' for events, and free summer tours for Newport County residents. In the last couple of years, the house has undergone a $2.1 million restoration, bringing it back to its former glory. 
(Photo courtesy Fort Adams Trust) The Fort Adams Trust became the manager of the Eisenhower House this year and has worked hard to ready the former 'summer White House' for events, and free summer tours for Newport County residents. In the last couple of years, the house has undergone a $2.1 million restoration, bringing it back to its former glory. (Photo courtesy Fort Adams Trust) The Fort’s Southern Redoubt was cleaned up last year when International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) had its annual meeting in Newport and the 250 attendees cleared out the area during the public service portion of the event. Prior to the IBTTA’s work there was no public access to the Redoubt, other than for the volunteers who had been chipping away at the project. Now, the Southern Redoubt and the Eisenhower House are both included on a new Expansion of the Fort tour starting in July.

“Given the cleaning-up of the Southern Redoubt last spring and this spring’s turn over of the Eisenhower House, the Trust believed that a combined tour offering would give the general public exposure to previously somewhat shuttered properties,” Dias said. “We are grateful for the efforts of our volunteers and staff for working to create the Fort museum over the last two years. And now, coupled with the historic jail cells, it will be integrated into the whole tour experience.”

Director of Visitor Experience Robert McCormack said the Trust is always looking for new ways to educate visitors and make the tours more compelling and informative. Each time another piece of the extensive Fort is restored, McCormack said new areas are opened to visitors and add to the experience.

“The additions of the Eisenhower House, Southern Redoubt and museum jail really give a visitor a better idea of how expansive and complex the Trust’s properties are. We’re restoring pieces of the Fort at different times,” he said. “It’s a massive Fort and we’ve only restored maybe 15-20 percent, so there’s a lot that still needs to be done, but we’re always applying for grants to fund new restoration projects.”

On weekend days, self-guided tours of the Eisenhower House will run from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tours of the Southern Redoubt will be available on Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00-4:00 p.m., departing every half hour. Eisenhower House tours are free, with donations accepted, while tours of the Redoubt will cost $5 and can be purchased at the Fort Adams Visitors Center.

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