Author: Christine Haverington with the Middletown Historical Society;The Newport Historical Society
Middletown, founded in 1743, is one of Rhode Island's earliest settlements. Rich in history and natural beauty, its glacial soil has been farmed for at least 1,000 years. The farmers of Middletown were hardworking men and women who were interested in art, culture, and politics. Also passionate about horses, they produced the first American horse breed, the Narragansett Pacer. Although farming is no longer a major occupation, a farming renaissance is under way, generated by organic and local foods movements. Over the years, the Navy has become the largest employer on the island, having established facilities there during World War II. The scenic beauty of Middletown has caused a large section of it to be called Paradise. This unique region, inspiration to generations of artists, has played an important part in the history of American art.