Meet Members of the Newport History Tours Team
Upon retiring from a career as an environmental manager, Chuck Flippo settled in Newport and quickly became fascinated by the city’s colonial history. “I didn’t realize how significant Newport was in early American history,” he says. “There’s so much more to historic Newport than the Gilded Age mansions.” After initially volunteering at Newport Historical Society events, Chuck welcomed the opportunity to lead walking tours in 2010 and he contributed to development of the Road to Independence tour.
Chuck is active member of the Newport community. He volunteers as a conductor with the Old Colony & Newport Railway, he’s an advocate for the city’s historic town center, Washington Square, and he serves as president of the Friends of the Newport Public Library. Additionally he manages the LoebVisitorsCenter at Touro Synagogue. “The fact that Rhode Island welcomed Jews, along with Quakers, Baptists and others, at a time when they were persecuted elsewhere testifies to the part Rhode Islanders played in bringing religious freedom to the western world,” he notes.
An interview for a 2012 Preservation Magazine article gave him the chance to share with a national audience his firm belief that, “You can’t come to a town like Newport and not take a walking tour.”
Martha Ginty, a Newport native and guide for the Newport Restoration Foundation, loves to share her excitement about the city’s complex history with its many visitors. Martha not only has first-hand knowledge of the many changes that have taken place in Newport but has a background that supports her knowledge. Her degrees in Art History and Historical and Cultural Preservation, as well as experience as an archaeologist and horticulturalist, help her to show off the city’s rich and diverse cultural history through its varied architecture and landscape.
Lew Keen has been a Newport Historical Society guide since 2010, which he describes as a “joy-filled experience.” Originally from Pennsylvania, Lew retired from a career as a teacher and moved to Newport.
Lew explains that he has had a fascination with Victorian buildings that started in 1980 which became the flashpoint for a love of everything Victorian. In 1995 the purchase of a Queen Ann house became his vehicle to explore local history and helped him realize its importance to every community. “It’s sad how much history has been lost over the years,” Lew states, “and how important it is that we record the stories of the people and events of today (and yesterday) for the future.”
“There are very few places in our country where you can share stories that start in 1639. There are very few places in the country with the outstanding architecture that is found in Newport. There are very few places in the country where events that shaped our nation took place. Newport has it all!”
Stephanie Poole’ joined the Newport Historical Society in 2016. With a Master’s degree in Anthropology and a strong love of history, Stephanie has discovered her passion for historical outreach and making history accessible to the general public.
“History belongs to everyone and giving people ownership of their history is a vehicle to its preservation and the perpetuation of historical knowledge. I love connecting with people and helping them discover their own passion and curiosity regarding Newport’s stories.”
Jean Quinn celebrates six years as a Newport Historical Society guide and she says, “Newport’s stories are as good as they get.”
“I love taking people through Washington Square and the surrounding neighborhoods, talking about the people of colonial times, where they lived, worked, and prayed, and made for themselves the colorful, thriving seaport of Newport,” Jean explains. “My favorite part of guiding is seeing people’s faces light up when they hear a fascinating bit of Newport’s history, or a story about another notable character.”
Formerly from Peace Dale, RI, Jean teaches English as a Second Language, and college reading and writing skills at the community college.
As the Education & Public Programs Assistant for the Newport Restoration Foundation since 2009, Liz Spoden’s responsibilities include managing the Newport History Tours partnership. “Walking tours are a favorite part of my job. They allow me to do what inspired me to work in this field: making history accessible for the general public. I love it when I help visitors think about a famous moment in history in new way—such as the difficulties with choosing sides on the eve of the American Revolution, which is often overlooked.”