Naval Namesakes: Hampshire Drive

---Amy King, Curatorial Volunteer

Many streets, buildings, and institutions in Rhode Island are named to honor the Narragansett Bay area’s rich naval heritage. This regular feature to the museum’s blog provides a brief look at the people, places, and events behind the names.

USS New Hampshire (1864) Flagship of the Apprentice Training Squadron

Hampshire Drive on Naval Station Newport is named for the 74-gun ship-of-the-line USS New Hampshire.  The ship, originally named Alabama, was laid down at Portsmouth Naval Yard and completed for launch in 1825. Renamed New Hampshire, she was finally launched in April 1864 and commissioned for service during the Civil War.
Apprentice seamen marching towards South Point.
New Hampshire is moored at the end of the dock.
 In 1881 the USS New Hampshire became the flagship for Commodore Stephen B. Luce's Apprentice Training Program in Newport. Luce and others established an apprentice system to formally educate young boys and improve the overall quality of naval recruits.  The boys needed parental permission and criminals were not allowed to apply. New Hampshire, docked at “South Point” on Coasters Harbor Island, was the home of these boys for a six-month period before each was assigned to a training ship. In nearby buildings the teenagers were instructed in seamanship and gunnery as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, and history.

The street is not the only namesake of the old ship-of-the line at the naval station. In 1976 the base erected a small stone tablet at the corner of Knight Road and Porter Avenue (South of Hampshire Drive and north of South Point). The marker names the area New Hampshire Field. Now a parking lot, this section once served as a drill field for recruits, an athletic field, a barracks, and a swimming pool.

After being decommissioned in 1892, the New York State Naval Militia used the vessel as a training ship and renamed her Granite State. In 1921, she caught fire and sank in the Hudson River. The hull was sold as salvage in August 1921. While under tow to the Bay of Fundy, Granite State sunk once again off Half Way Rock located in Massachusetts Bay.

Street Sign Image by Christina Anderson
Images Courtesy of the Naval War College Museum


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