Hunter House – Newport, Rhode Island - Atlas Obscura
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Newport, Rhode Island

Hunter House

The first newspaper printed by an expeditionary force was published in this colonial mansion. 

Peek behind a bench on the back side of this 18th-century mansion, and you’ll find a plaque honoring a forgotten piece of the past. It’s the only hint of the historic newspaper once produced within the building’s walls.

During the Revolutionary War, the French army was stationed at Hunter House in Newport, Rhode Island. To spread news among the French soldiers stationed there, a French newspaper was printed.

First published in 1780, La Gazette Francoise is regarded as the first known service newspaper printed by an expeditionary force. It became the forerunner of such notable journalism as Stars and Stripes, a newspaper printed in Europe for the American forces during both World Wars. But sadly, this tidbit of information is all but lost to history.

The mansion came under the possession of the French after its owner during the American Revolution, Colonel Wanton, fled the town with his family because of his Royalist sympathies. Admiral de Ternay staked his claim on the house and used it as both his personal residence and as headquarters for his troops. Running the newspaper was a colossal feat to accomplish when most of their attention was focused war-based endeavors.

Know Before You Go

There is limited street parking.

The tours of the house are only during “the season” and there is a cost. However, you can walk into the garden and see the sign at no cost. It is on the house, low down, behind the bench.