Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Portsmouth is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island. The population was 17,389 at the 2010 U.S. Census. Portsmouth is the second oldest municipality in Rhode Island, after Providence; it was one of the four colonies which merged to form the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the others being Providence, Newport, and Warwick.

Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Portsmouth welcome sign
Portsmouth welcome sign
Location of Portsmouth in Newport County, Rhode Island
Location of Portsmouth in Newport County, Rhode Island
Coordinates: 41°36′N 71°15′W / 41.600°N 71.250°W
CountryUnited States
StateRhode Island
EstablishedMarch 7, 1638
 • Town CouncilKevin M. Aguiar (D), President
Linda L. Ujifusa (D), Vice-President
Daniela T. Abbott (D)
Len Katzman (D)
Andrew V. Kelly (D)
J. Mark Ryan (D)
Keith E. Hamilton (R)
 • Town ClerkJennifer M. West (D)
 • Total59.3 sq mi (153.6 km2)
 • Land23.2 sq mi (60.1 km2)
 • Water36.1 sq mi (93.5 km2)
203 ft (62 m)
 • Total17,389
 • Density749.5/sq mi (289.3/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s)401
FIPS code44-57880[1]
GNIS feature ID1220065[2]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 59.3 square miles (154 km2), of which, only 23.2 square miles (60 km2) (39.14%) of it is land and 36.1 square miles (93 km2) (60.86%) of it is water. Most of its land area lies on Aquidneck Island, which it shares with Middletown and Newport. In addition, Portsmouth encompasses some smaller islands, including Prudence Island, Patience Island, Hope Island, and Hog Island.

Portsmouth Compact
Portsmouth Compact memorial at Founder's Brook.


Portsmouth was settled in 1638 by a group of religious dissenters from Massachusetts Bay Colony, including Dr. John Clarke, William Coddington, and Anne Hutchinson. It is named after Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. Roger Williams convinced the settlers that they should go there instead of settling in the Province of New Jersey, where they had first planned on going.

It was founded by the signers of the Portsmouth Compact. Its original Indian name was Pocasset, and it was officially named Portsmouth on May 12, 1639. It became part of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (see Aquidneck Island) and eventually part of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.



Portsmouth School Department operates public schools:

  • Portsmouth High School
  • Portsmouth Middle School
  • Howard W. Hathaway Elementary School
  • Melville Elementary School
  • Prudence Island School (a Charter/Co-op "Home School" as of September 2009)


  • Portsmouth Abbey School (9th Grade through 12th Grade)
  • Saint Philomena School (Pre-Kindergarten through 8th Grade)
  • The Pennfield School (Nursery through 8th Grade)
Mount Hope Bridge-1
The Mount Hope Bridge, connecting Portsmouth with Bristol, Rhode Island.


Since 1980, Portsmouth has been home to Clements' Market, a large supermarket. In addition, Portsmouth is home to the Portsmouth Business Park, as well as a few small plazas with a variety of businesses. Portsmouth is also home to a branch of Raytheon, and its Integrated Defense Systems department.


Portsmouth is the headquarters of US Sailing, the National Governing Body of Sailing in the U.S.[3] Portsmouth is also home to the Newport International Polo Series held at Glen Farm.[4] Portsmouth is also home to the Portsmouth Pirates, the town's soccer team. Portsmouth High School also has very successful football, basketball, baseball and soccer teams. All four teams are regularly in the top 5 teams in the state.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201517,373[5]−0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[6][7]

2000 U.S. Census

The 2000 U.S. Census[1] reported that there were 17,149 people, or an increase of 1.7%, residing in the town. There were also 6,758 households, and 4,865 families recorded. The population density was 739.0 people per square mile (285.3/km²). There were 7,386 housing units at an average density of 318.3 per square mile (122.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.82% White, 1.17% African American, 0.19% Native American, 1.36% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.45% of the population.

There were 6,758 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the town, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 26.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $88,835, and the median income for a family was $108,577. Males had a median income of $46,297 versus $31,745 for females. The per capita income for the town was $46,161. About 2.0% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.

2010 U.S. Census

The 2010 U.S. Census[1] reported that there were 17,349 people, or an increase of 1.15%, residing in the town. The racial makeup of the town was 94.57% White, 1.35% African American, 1.58% Asian, 0.21% American Indian or Alaskan Native, 0.04% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.40% of some other race, and 1.86% of two or more races.

In the town, 22.98% of the population was under the age of 18 and 16.47% were 65 years of age or older. Females made up 51.03% of the population.

Portsmouth Rhode Island School House
The 1725 schoolhouse owned by the Portsmouth Historical Society is one of the oldest surviving in the U.S.

Historic sites

Notable people


  1. ^ a b c "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "United States Sailing Association - The National Governing Body for the Sport of Sailing". United States Sailing Association.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 4, 2000. Retrieved August 21, 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  7. ^ Snow, Edwin M. (1867). Report upon the Census of Rhode Island 1865. Providence, RI: Providence Press Company.
  8. ^ Severo, Richard. "Betty Hutton, Film Star of 1940s and 1950s, Dies at 86".
  9. ^ https://archive.org/details/historicstrainof02trac/page/n3
  10. ^ "Leadership | Bryant University". www.bryant.edu. Retrieved January 17, 2018.

Further reading

  • Garman, James E. (1996). Traveling Around Aquidneck Island 1890–1930. Portsmouth: Hamilton Printing. ISBN 0-9631722-6-3.
  • Pierce, John T. (1991). Historical Tracts of the Town of Portsmouth. Portsmouth: Hamilton Printing. ISBN 0-9631722-0-4.

External links

Coordinates: 41°36′N 71°15′W / 41.600°N 71.250°W

Billy Gonsalves

Adelino William "Billy" Gonsalves (August 10, 1908 – July 17, 1977) was an American soccer player, sometimes described as the "Babe Ruth of American Soccer". He spent over 25 years playing in various American professional leagues and was a member of the U.S. squad at the FIFA World Cup in 1930 and 1934. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Dennis Canario

Dennis M. Canario (born August 18, 1960) is an American politician and a Democratic member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives representing District 71 since January 1, 2013.

Greenvale Farm

Greenvale Farm is an historic farm and 19th-century summer estate at 582 Wapping Road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Historically used for farmland, a portion of this 53-acre (21 ha) was transformed into an expansive country estate in the 1860s by John Barstow, a Boston merchant. It is located at the end of a narrow dirt lane, and is set overlooking the Sakonnet River. The main house, designed by John Hubbard Sturgis and built in 1864-65, is an exuberant implementation of the Stick style with Gothic features. It has asymmetric form, with a variety of projections, dormers, gables, and cross-gables, with a variety of exterior finishes. The estate continues to be owned by Barstow descendants.The estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Lawton–Almy–Hall Farm

The Lawton–Almy–Hall Farm is an historic farm at 559 Union Street in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The farm comprises 40 acres (16 ha) of land, and a well-preserved farm complex with elements dating to the 18th century. The land was first granted in 1648 to George Lawton, and was owned by six generations of the family. It was acquired in 1832 by Pegel Almy, whose family owned it until 1938, when it was sold to the Halls. The farmhouse is one of the oldest in the area, with its northern section estimated to have been built about 1700, based on stylistic resemblance to the Quaker Meetinghouse (c. 1699) and a local schoolhouse (c. 1725).The farm was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Mike Cloud

For the 2002 Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, see Michael Cloud.

Michael Alexander Cloud (born July 1, 1975) is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for seven seasons. He played college football for Boston College, and was recognized as an All-American. A second-round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, he has played professionally for the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and New York Giants of the NFL.

Mount Hope Bridge

The Mount Hope Bridge is a two-lane suspension bridge spanning the Mount Hope Bay in eastern Rhode Island at one of the narrowest gaps in Narragansett Bay. The bridge connects the Rhode Island towns of Portsmouth and Bristol and is part of Route 114. Its towers are 285 feet (87 m) tall, the length of the main span is 1,200 feet (366 m), and it offers 135 feet (41 m) of clearance over high water. The total length of the bridge is 6,130 feet (1,868 m).

National Register of Historic Places listings in Portsmouth, Rhode Island

This is a list of Registered Historic Places in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which has been transferred from and is an integral part of National Register of Historic Places listings in Newport County, Rhode Island.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted June 7, 2019.

Oak Glen (Portsmouth, Rhode Island)

Oak Glen is a historic house at 745 Union Street in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It is a 2-1/2 story wood frame structure, with a highly pitched gambrel roof and jerkin-headed (clipped) gable ends. The house was built about 1870 by Samuel and Julia Ward Howe as a summer retreat. The ell attached to the rear of the house is a c. 1850 cottage which was standing on the site when the Howes purchased the property. After Samuel Howe died in 1876, Julia (best known as the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") made this her permanent home. She died here on October 17, 1910, at the age of 91.

The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Patience Island

Patience Island lies off the northwest coast of Prudence Island in the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It has a land area of 0.33 sq mi (0.85 km2; 210 acres), making it the fourth-largest island in Narragansett Bay.

Portsmouth Abbey

Portsmouth Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Portsmouth, on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, United States. The mission of the community is to seek God guided by the Gospel, the Rule of St. Benedict, and by prayer and work to sanctify themselves and their community.

Portsmouth Friends Meetinghouse Parsonage and Cemetery

The Portsmouth Friends Meetinghouse, Parsonage, and Cemetery (also known as Portsmouth Friends Meeting House or Portsmouth Evangelical Friends Church) is a historic Friends Meeting House and cemetery of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), at 11 Middle Road and 2232 E. Main Road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

In 1638, exiled religious dissidents from the Massachusetts Bay Colony founded Portsmouth, the second oldest colonial community in Rhode Island. The Quaker community developed shortly after the community was founded.

The current meetinghouse was built around 1699-1700. The building was used as a Quaker house of worship and school. During the American Revolutionary War, British troops occupied the building. In 1784 the Moses Brown School was founded at the church. The meeting house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Currently, services are held weekly on Sundays at 10:30 am. and 7:00 p.m..

Portsmouth School Department

Portsmouth School Department is a school district in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Prudence Island

Prudence Island is the third-largest island in Narragansett Bay in the state of Rhode Island and part of the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It is located near the geographical center of the bay. It is defined by the United States Census Bureau as Block Group 3, Census Tract 401.03 of Newport County, Rhode Island. As of the 2000 census, the population was 88 people living on a land area of 14.43 km² (5.57 sq mi).

Prudence Island Light

The Prudence Island Lighthouse, more commonly known locally as the Sandy Point Lighthouse, is located on Prudence Island, Rhode Island and is the oldest lighthouse tower in the state. Sandy Point is nicknamed Chibacoweda, meaning "little place separated by a passage", because the location is a little more than one mile offshore.

Sakonnet River Bridge

The Sakonnet River Bridge is a four-lane bridge spanning the Sakonnet River in eastern Rhode Island. The bridge carries RI 24 and RI 138 between the communities of Portsmouth and Tiverton, Rhode Island. The current bridge is a box girder bridge that opened in 2012 at a cost of $120 million (USD). The previous bridge was a truss bridge that was built in 1956 and demolished in 2012 due to structural deficiencies. The truss bridge had previously served as a replacement for the Stone Bridge, about 0.8 mi (1.3 km) to the south.

It became part of RI 24 during the 1960s after the completion of the Portsmouth and Tiverton Expressways. At one point, it was briefly considered for inclusion as part of the never-built Interstate 895.

Thomas Cornell (settler)

Thomas Cornell, Sr (c. 1595 – c. 1655) was one of the earliest settlers of Boston (1638), Rhode Island (1643) and the Bronx and a contemporary of Roger Williams and the family of Anne Hutchinson. He is the ancestor of a number of Americans prominent in business, politics, and education, as well as a Prime Minister of Canada.

Union Church (Portsmouth, Rhode Island)

The Union Church is an historic church and local history museum owned by the Portsmouth Historical Society at 870 East Main Road in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. One exhibit room is dedicated to Julia Ward Howe and includes a collection of furniture from her summer home in Portsmouth and a display about her life.


WJHD (90.7 FM) is a non-profit non-commercial educational high school radio station broadcasting from a studio located in the school's science building. Licensed to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, United States, the station serves the Aquidneck Island area. The station is owned and operated by Portsmouth Abbey School, a Benedictine institution.

Wreck Sites of HMS Cerberus and HMS Lark

The Wreck Sites of HMS Cerberus and HMS Lark are located in the waters of Narragansett Bay on the west side of Aquidneck Island near South Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Portsmouth, Rhode Island
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