Battery Bankhead is a reinforced concrete coastal gun battery on Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island. The battery was built during the Endicott Period when the United States sought to increase its coastal defenses in case of a war. Many of the structures built during the Endicott Period were completed between 1890 and 1910. Construction on Battery Bankhead was approved in order to defend Newport Harbor. Building began in October of 1904 and it was completed in 1906. The Coast Artillery acquired the battery and put it into service on July 31, 1907. The battery was named after Major General James Bankhead of the U.S. Army. He served with distinction during the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, and the Mexican-American War. James passed away on November 11, 1856.
During the Endicott Period, the battery was equipped with three 6-inch Armstrong guns mounted on Armstrong pedestal mounts. These guns were mounted on the upper floor of the battery while two magazines were constructed on the lower level. These magazines held the shells and powder for the guns. No shell or powder hoists were installed at Battery Bankhead and this meant that all moving had to be done manually.
Following the Endicott Period, the future of Battery Bankhead was put into jeopardy. It was unknown whether or not the fort needed the gun battery for the future. Ultimately, the army decided that the guns would be better used elsewhere. Orders came for the guns and carriages at Battery Bankhead to be transferred to Fort Kamehameha in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 26, 1913. Following the transfer of the guns, the battery was decommissioned and abandoned.
What Remains Today?
Sadly, the gun battery is not open to the public. It is located behind barbed wire fence and has large “no trespassing” signs. The best place to view the gun battery is from Jackson Court. Hopefully someday the state will consider renovating the structure and opening it up to the public.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as park of Fort Adams State Park which has reference number #70000014.
- Year Built: 1906
- Year Abandoned: 1913
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with three 6-inch Armstrong guns
- National Register of Historic Places: #70000014