Our “City by the Sea” was founded in 1639, so the Colonial influence looms large in our history. Known as Newport’s “Golden Age” (as opposed to the “Gilded Age” of the late 1800s) there are arguably more Colonial buildings in Newport than any other town in America.
And one name is always associated with the presence of so many Colonial houses here, Doris Duke, who was single-handedly responsible for restoring and/or moving to Newport approximately eighty houses of this period. They are now part of the Newport Restoration Foundation, founded in 1968 by Mrs. Duke with the express purpose of preserving, interpreting, and maintaining landscape and objects reflecting Aquidneck Island’s 18th- and 19th- century architectural culture. The majority of these historic houses are available to rent as private residences and are maintained by a full-time crew of carpenters and painters. This is an important point…to be lived in and used as they have for more than three centuries makes them a vibrant part of the community.
It is just this fact which I find particularly appealing about these houses. There is an authenticity to each , a lived-in look. They are not perfect; they don’t appear to be stage sets or Disney-esque over-restored “properties.” Thus you will see seasonal decorations created by the homeowners themselves, not a decorator or stylist; there might be chipping paint under the house eaves, the original stone steps are uneven (and perhaps a bit mossy) or some leaves haven’t been raked.
Please enjoy this selection that represent the handsome variety of good Colonial design to be found today in Newport, Rhode Island, all dressed up for the holidays.
The next time you plan to visit Newport, you may wish to consider Christmastime…