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Monumenta Redux


I was the godfather of Monumenta. I did not give birth to the idea of Monumenta—I just put out the contracts. Newport in 1974 had lost much of the Navy presence thanks to “Richard the Lyinghearted’s” ‘southern strategy.’ The loss of one of the largest employers on the island compounded an already depressed economy due to the exodus of the mills from the surrounding area in the Fifties. John Fitzgerald, the Administrator of Middletown, asked me to help coordinate an impact study on the closing of these bases and to present it to the Defense Department. Senator Erich Taylor and I created legislation to form a port authority for the island of Aquidneck to serve as a conduit for funds to purchase the lands abandoned by the Navy so that Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth could regain their western shores. So these were my concerns when Senator Taylor arranged a meeting with Jay Schochet who, as the developer of Brick Market Place, wanted to bring to downtown Newport an exhibition of sculpture to promote his project. The idea, but on a larger scale, was immediately interesting to me. I had come to the realization that tourism was the only immediate hope for Newport’s economic future.