Colonial distillery excavation planned

Photo courtesy of Salve Regina

An archaeological team from Salve Regina University plans to return to a historic Newport, RI, site this summer to dig for a colonial-era distillery.

The team, working with the Newport Restoration Foundation, began excavating at the Thames Street site in the summer of 2007. Thomas Richardson II, an 18th Century Newport merchant, sea captain and slave trader, also manufactured rum, using slave labor, on his waterfront property.

The team, led by Jim Garman, chairman of the local university's Cultural and Historic Preservation Department, used ground-penetrating sonar tests that indicate the possible presence of the remains of a distillery.

Rum was commonly manufactured in New England during that period as part of the triangular trade among Africa, the Caribbean and New England involving slaves, rum and molasses.

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