The Newport Tower (also known as: Round Tower, Touro Tower, Newport Stone Tower and Old Stone Mill) is a round stone tower located in Touro Park in Newport, Rhode Island (USA).It is commonly considered to have been a windmill built in the mid-17th century. However, the tower has received attention due to speculation that it is actually several centuries older and represents evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact.
The Newport Tower is located in Touro Park, at the top of Mill Street, surrounded by a historical residential neighborhood on the hill above the waterfront tourist district. Eighteenth-century paintings show that the hill itself once furnished a view of the harbor and would have been visible to passing mariners in Narragansett Bay,but recent tree growth now obscures the view.
The Newport Tower is not exactly circular. From southeast to northwest the diameter reportedly measures 22 feet 2 inches, but when measured from east to west, the diameter lengthens to 23 feet 3 inches, although curiously, 19th century measurements of the interior gave an east-west dimension of 18 feet 4 inches, which was slightly shorter than the north-south measurement of 18 feet 9 inches,suggesting that the discrepancies may be due to the unevenness of the rubble masonry.
The tower has a height of 28 feet and an exterior width of 24 feet. At one time the sides were coated with a smooth coating of white plaster, the remains of which can still be seen clinging to the outer walls.
Four of the eight supporting pillars of the tower face the main points of the compass. In the 1990s, William Penhallow, an astronomer at the University of Rhode Island, studied the windows in the tower and said that he found a number of astronomical alignments.
At the summer solstice the setting sun should shine through the "west" window (actually just south of true west) onto a niche in the inner wall, next to the "south" window. (This no longer happens due to urban development and park trees.)
Similarly, the angle from the "east" window through the "west" window is about 18 degrees south of west, which is the southern extreme of moonsets during what is known as the "lunar minor standstill". The smaller windows also form alignments, on significant stars. These alignments could be accidental, but if they were deliberate it would explain why the pattern of windows seems, according to Penhallow, "so odd".