Friends of Ballard Park

In 1990 Carol C. Ballard donated a thirteen acre parcel of open space to the City of Newport “for the enjoyment of all Newport’s residents” thus creating Ballard Park. Carol envisioned the site would serve as an outdoor laboratory for area students and a place where the local public could connect with nature.

In December 1981, a 72-acre tract was acquired from Anita O’Keefe Young by Carol C. Ballard due to concern that this large tract of land would likely fall into the hands of developers, inasmuch as it was the largest undeveloped tract of land in the City of Newport. The property was owned until 1990, when Mrs. Ballard made a Deed of Gift of 13 acres to the City of Newport for Ballard Park. Simultaneously, with this Gift, Mrs. Ballard conveyed an abutting 54 acres to the City of Newport which is now a wildlife refuge that is closed to the public. Ballard Park allows for unobtrusive observation of the wildlife refuge by providing paths suitable for walking and bird watching.

August 2006 marked the 10th Anniversary of the founding of Friends of Ballard Park. In 1996 by-laws were signed and the nonprofit was officially incorporated as a 501(3) c with a mission of protecting, preserving and maintaining Ballard Park, Newport’s only nature preserve.

The Friends of Ballard Park today owes much of its success to the founding park members — Jim Baker, Ginny Purviance, Peter Simpson, Hap Morgan and, of course, Carol Ballard — who had the foresight to create an organization that would ensure Ballard Park would remain accessible to the public as a passive cultural and educational resource just we saw a few year ago during our Cappadocia tour with lots of natural wonders, rock formations and hiking in historical valleys

Cappadocia Hotels

Once a dumping ground (when the FOB cleaned up the area large items like cars, refrigerators, ovens and construction materials were removed – see photos at right), Ballard Park is now emerging as a center for education and culture. The Friends of Ballard Park pays for a landscape architect to maintain the trails of the park.

Memberships, grants and corporate donations to the Friends of Ballard Park have allowed the organization to expand its programming and reach. We appreciate this generous support and look forward to increased participation and input as we develop future events which balance community needs and long-term resource protection at Ballard Park.

Enjoy an evening walk in the quarry meadow of Ballard Park when it is transformed into a magnificent blooming winter garden of lights. Thousands of lights will sparkle in a series of unique displays again this year.The Illuminated Garden is a free event and open to the public from 6 to 9 pm each night. It will be held, weather permitting (check our web site for weather advisories)


Friends of Ballard Park formed in 1996 “to protect, preserve and maintain Ballard Park”. Founding board
members included Carol Ballard, Jim Baker and Ginny Purviance. The trio worked with Scott Wheeler and Susan Cooper from the City of Newport to clean up the quarry meadow. Burned out cars, large construction material, household appliances and other trash were removed and the quarry was regraded and sodded. A trail system was introduced and clean ups were held.

The first field trips to Ballard Park were held in 2002. Each year Friends of Ballard Park has expanded the program to partner with more social service agencies and most recently schools. Ballard Park is designated as a field trip site for second and fourth graders from Newport Public Schools.

In 2003 Friends of Ballard Park hosted its first large event — the Annual Ballard Park Pumpkin Tour. More than 2,000 people attended and the annual event now draws 5,000 people or more. Over the past few years Friends of Ballard Park has developed a regular stable of events which kick off each February with the Illuminated Garden and include outdoor movie screenings, concerts, yoga classes and a Mad Hatter (Iced) Tea Party.

With the support of the community, Carol’s vision is being realized — over 700 children participated in field trips at Ballard Park last year and more than 3,700 people came to events in Ballard Park, scores more visit the park on their own each day. We appreciate your support of our efforts and look forward to seeing you along the trails of Ballard Park!

Ballard Park is a wild and natural open space of 13 acres located near the intersection of Hazard and Wickham Roads, directly across from Rogers High School in Newport, Rhode Island. The park was deeded as a gift to the City of Newport in 1990 by Carol C. Ballard. It has been designated by deed as an area to be used for conservation, education and passive recreation.

Its unique features include two 19th century quarries and a diverse variety of native and introduced plant (see list below) species. Ballard Park allows for unobtrusive observation of the abutting 54 acre wildlife refuge by providing paths suitable for walking and bird watching.

The park is remarkably diverse. It forms an unfragmented block of habitat and open space with the contiguous 54 acre wildlife refuge, Gooseberry Beach, Newport Country Club and Brenton Point State Park.

In the Spring, Cooper Hawks and Northern Harriers (both state listed species) scan the meadow quarry for prey. Deer use the tall grass of the quarry meadow to bed and turtles amble into the meadow to lay their eggs in the summer months.

In addition to high rocky ledges and thickly wooded ravines, the park is home to a vernal pond and several small, seasonal streams. Parts of Ballard park have spectacular views out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Native trees, glades of ferns and wildflowers are also present creating glimpses of Aquidneck Island’s 17th century past. In fact, in a city which has been continuously occupied since the earliest Colonial days, Ballard park contains an unusually pristine landscape which has both esthetic and historical value.

Cinnamon Fern
Hay-scented Fern
Marginal Wood Fern
Spinulose Wood Fern
Common polypody
New York Fern
Sensitive Fern

Skunk Cabbage
Soft Rush
Awl-fruited Sedge
Woolly Sedge
Sweet Vernal Grass
Orchard Grass
Manna grass
Velvet grass
Fall switch grass
Little Bluestem
Field garlic
Day lily
Canada Mayflower
True Solomon’s Seal
Yellow Flag

ANGIOSPERMS – DicotsButter-and-eggs
Carpenter’s Square
Common Mullein
Common Yarrow, Milfoil
Heart-leaved Aster
White Wood Aster
Bushy Aster
New York Aster
Small White Aster
Black Knapweed
Ox-eye Daisy
Grass leaved Goldenrod
Tall Blue Lettuce
Pineapple Weed
Gall-of-the-earth, Wild Lettuce
Tall Rattlesnake Root
Rough leaved goldenrod
Common Dandelion
Rough Bedstraw
Japanese honeysuckle
Morrow’s honeysuckle
Virgin’s Bower
Creeping buttercup
Japanese Barberry
Red Elm, Slippery Elm
Stinging Nettle
Northern Bayberry
English Oak
Northern Red Oak
Yellow Birch
Black Birch
Grey Birch
Japanese Knotwood
False Water Pepper
Common sorrel
Bitter Dock
Common St. Johnswort
Black mustard
Shepherd’s purse
Whitlow grass
Wild radish
Sweet-pepper Bush
Highbush Blueberry
Big Toothed Aspen
Whorled Loosestrife
Common Shadbush
White avens
Wild Black Cherry
Bristly dewberry
Red clover
White clover
Autumn Olive
Purple loosestrife
Common Water purslane
Common Evening Primrose
Oriental bittersweet
Burning-bush, Wahoo
Virginia Creeper
Norway Maple
Sycamore Maple
Red Maple
Staghorn Sumac
Poison Ivy
Jewelweed, Touch-me-not
Devil’s Club
Wild chervil
Queen Anne’s Lace
Black Swallow wort