The concept of a "John Clarke Park,"
recently dubbed "John Clarke Square," was conceived in 1984. Initially
a concept discussed with John Clarke Trust Trustee Mr.
Wilbur Nelson, the concept of a John Clarke Park resonated with John
Society founders Ralph Carpenter and James Wermuth. Many hours were
spent evaluating financial potential , perspective sites, and the
character of a Park.
Site evaluated included Fort Adams,
the existing Clarke Park on Marcus Wheatland Blvd., and city center where Coffey's two garages
are sited on Spring St. Fort Adams was ruled out
for its distance from city center. Conservations with Ken Taylor and Ron
Fleming regarding adaption of the existing park proved unproductive as
the site is not attractive enough.
The final site, Coffey's
garages behind the Old Colony House became the central focus. It links
several historic properties together, it is tourist friendly, it would
support the initiative of Washington Square Roots (a non-profit group
endeavoring to enliven Newport's historic Washington Square), and it
would improve this wonderful site where the Indian
and settler's spring surfaced.
To lend further interest
to the site, the Society believes that it could provide a site
reciprocative of England's John F. Kennedy Memorial at Runnymede, where
Magna Carta was
signed; England designated that acre of land as American soil. In
response, the Society would like to investigate the possibility of
naming John Clarke Park as British soil.
While Ralph Carpenter was able
to encourage hopes that funding would become available to make the park
happen, that hope died in 2009 with his death. As a result, creation of
the park was placed on the back burner. Early in 2011, architect John
Grosvenor assumed the initiative and promises to have funding. As such,
the Society supports his efforts and looks forward to contributing as
The following linked frames
provide an overview of this historic site. They are based on a 1984
study of Washington Square conducted by the Conservation Technology
Group, funded by Jonathan and Libby Isham.