RHODE ISLAND




WALKER HOUSE, 432 Massasoit Avenue, East Providence, RI ( 41.830862, -71.364954)

Felling dates: Spring 1721, Spring 1723, Winter 1723/4, and Spring 1724 (Primary phase)

Site Chronologies Produced: WHP-1 1579-1723 WHP-2 1475-1723

Architectural description and historical information:
The earliest part of the Walker House was built in 1724 by Timothy Walker (1687-1745) on land that had been in the Walker Family since the mid-seventeenth century. The building remained in the Walker family until 1984 when Faith Shedd Potter transferred ownership to the Heritage Foundation of Rhode Island, now Preserve Rhode Island, Inc. The Walker House, two-and-one-half stories in height, is a very early example of the square plan, a plan type that is believed to have evolved from the four-room-plan Rhode Island stone-ender in the first part of the eighteenth century. The plan featured a kitchen across one side, a large parlor, and a smaller third room on the first floor all heated by fireplaces and a similar plan on the second floor. The square plan house was cheaper to construct than a five-bay central chimney house, permitted greater flexibility in the number and size of heated rooms in a compact house, and still achieved the double pile plan increasingly favored in the eighteenth century. The original north part of the Walker House, approximately twenty-eight and one half feet square departs from the typical square plan framing because it lacks intermediate posts on the north and south walls. In other respects, such as the presence of summer beams only in the parlor and the chamber above, the framing is consistent with square plan practices. The framing was concealed in beaded cases, but in the process of documenting the building some cases were removed and some walls were opened up. Invariably the framing was found to be of sawn oak timbers. Vertical oak plank partitions divide the rooms. Circa 1780-1790, judging by physical and stylistic evidence, the house was extended by twelve feet to the south, adding two rooms on each floor, and a one-story dependency was built onto on to the south end. Unlike the studded and nogged walls of the original building, the outer walls of the south addition and its one-story appendage were constructed of oak planks nailed to the outside of the frame. The south addition could not be dated in this project given the limited reference chronologies currently available for Rhode Island. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, ODL unpubl rep 2003/9




CLEMENCE-IRONS HOUSE, 38 George Waterman Road, Johnston, RI (41.840912, -71.485194)

Felling dates: Winter 1690/91

Site Chronology Produced: CIH 1527-1690

Architectural description and historical information:
The Clemence-Irons House was built in 1691 by Richard Clemence, who inherited the property, then part of Providence, in 1688 from his father, Thomas. The property remained in the Clemence family until 1744. Subsequently it passed to several owners before being purchased by Ellen F. Irons in 1892. In 1938, the house was acquired by the Sharpe family who restored it. Norman Isham and John Hutchins Cady, restoration architects and experts on early architecture, directed the restoration. In 1947 the Sharpe family deeded the property to SPNEA. The Clemence-Irons House was built as a four-room-plan, story-and-one-half Rhode Island stone-ender with a lean-to in the rear. A stone chimney covers the two thirds of the exterior wall. Only the portion of the stack next to the front room and chamber is original. The part of the stack serving the kitchen was reconstructed on the basis of physical evidence in 1938. The house had grown considerably before the restoration; only the framing, part of the chimney, and some miscellaneous elements survived the later changes. The house was restored to a presumed seventeenth century appearance that now accurately portrays the spatial divisions and massing of the original structure. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2003span style="mso-spacerun:yes" ““Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase III”, ODL unpubl rep 2003/9

Historic New England - Clemence-Irons House
 

ELEAZER ARNOLD HOUSE, 487 Great Road, Lincoln, RI (41.902898, -71.419858)

Felling dates: Winter 1691/2, Spring 1693

Site Chronology Produced: EAL 1519-1692

Architectural description and historical information:
In 1685 Eleazer Arnold inherited from his father, Thomas, the land on which the house was built. The site was then part of Providence where Eleazer was a prominent citizen. The first documentary reference to the house was in Eleazer’s will and inventory of 1722. The house remained in the hands of the Arnold family until it came to SPNEA in 1918. The Arnold House is an example of a fully elaborated, four-room-plan Rhode Island stone-ender, two stories in height in the front and one story in the rear as originally built. A massive stone end-wall chimney served fireplaces in the large front room and chamber and the rear room. The smaller flanking rooms, front and rear, were unheated. Survivals from the original construction include the chimney with pilastered top, much of the frame, and sheathing in the large front room. Evidence in the attic indicates that there was a façade gable originally. In the late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century, the Arnold house was enlarged and remodeled. The rear of the house was raised to a full two stories, a lean-to was added across the back, and corner fireplaces were inserted in the unheated rooms. Finish materials and trim were updated inside and out. After receiving the house in 1918, SPNEA undertook necessary repairs and some later fireboxes were removed. In 1950-1952, the house was restored. Later finish materials and the added lean-to were removed. Framing was repaired, sheathing pieced in where needed, and the exterior was returned to a presumed seventeenth century appearance first postulated by Norman Isham, restoration architect and authority on early Rhode Island architecture, in 1895. The façade gable was not reproduced. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3

Historic New England - Arnold House
 


NEWPORT FRIENDS MEETINGHOUSE, 30 Farewell Street
(41.492024, -71.313055)

Felling dates: Winter 1698/9, Spring 1699, and Summer 1699

Site chronologies produced: NFM-1 1497-1698 and NFM-2 1572-1698

Architectural description and historical information:
Quakers from throughout New England held their Yearly Meeting in the Newport Meetinghouse from 1700 to 1905. The building was added to, and altered over those years and into the 20th century to meet changing needs. The building was purchased for preservation and restoration in 1967 and over several years was restored to its early 19th century configuration. The first building campaign resulted in a two story building about forty-five feet square. The roof was a steeply pitched hip culminating in a turret at the junction of the four roof slopes. Inside the open space allowed full view of the massive framing timbers, two of the timbers are twelve inches square by forty-five feet long. Another feature was a gallery at the second floor level on three sides of the building. An addition was called for in 1705 to provide space for the Women’s yearly meeting. This first addition was removed to make way for, in 1729, a larger two story space to the on the north end of the original building. The first floor remained the space for the Women’s Meeting while the upper room was used for informal meetings. In 1806 an addition was planned for the south end of the original building, slightly larger than the north addition. This is basically the configuration the building was restored to. It was probably during this 1806 change that the hip roof with the turret was removed and a continuous gable roof constructed over the original building and the new south addition. There remains some discussion as to when and how this change took place. Several lesser changes were made through the 19th century including a very Greek revival style entrance porch. The annual meeting site was moved to Providence in 1905 and in time- 1922 – the Newport Meetinghouse was sold to the Newport Community Center Association. It was adapted for athletic games and public meetings. Written history of this significant building, owned and maintained by the Newport Historical Society, is well expressed in the references at the end of this piece. Downing & Scully, The Architectural Heritage of Newport Stachiw, Myron O., The Early Architecture & Landscapes of the Narragansett Basin, Vol. I Newport Historical Society, published and archive materials Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3
 


WILBOUR-ELLERY HOUSE, 51 Touro Street (41.489601, -71.31323)

Felling dates: Summer 1796, Winter 1796/7, and Summer 1800

Site chronology produced: WEH-2 1691-1799

Architectural description and historical information:
The Wilbour-Ellery house is a three story, understated Federal style house with two interior chimneys, a characteristic low hip roof, and is sited prominently on Washington Square. A unique aspect is that it is the one house in the NRF collection the builder is definitely known. Very few buildings of 18th century Newport are connected with house-wrights so clearly. Wilbour was known in Newport and is mentioned in newspaper ads of the period as a builder and plane maker. Wilbour bought the “empty lot” at Touro and Clarke Streets in 1800 and sold the “lot with house” in 1802 to John Wood. This leads one to believe that Wilbour, being a recognized housewright, probably built the house on speculation. He moved from Newport after the sale of the house to New York state, the town of Exeter. William Ellery, III bought the house from Wood in 1809. William, III was the son of Wm Jr. the Rhode Island signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house remained in the Ellery family until 1852. An odd twist is that when NRF purchased the house for restoration in 1975 a doorway was offered that was perfect for the period of the Wilbour-Ellery house. The doorway had originally come from Ellery Jr.’s upper Thames Street house when it was demolished in the 1920s or 30s. The exterior of the house embodies simple elements of Federal design while the interior is a mix between the earlier Georgian themes and the Adam style so sought after in this period in America. The general floor plan is a room in each corner, two interior chimneys and a central hallway that on the first floor is only as deep as the front two rooms. The upper two floors enjoy full depth halls. The first floor front rooms are quite grand and have the full Adam treatment. The west room has a fine mantelpiece and alcoves flanking that are framed with elliptical arches. The east room has a rather elaborate cornice and chair rail with acanthus leaf detail. The majority of other rooms make do with simple Federal style mantle pieces, chair rails and plain cornice moldings. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3
 


AUGUSTUS LUCUS HOUSE, 40 Division Street, Newport, RI (41.48825,-71.312244)

Felling dates / ranges: Circa 1650, Summer 1714, and Winter 1759/60

Site chronologies produced: alh367 1539-1634, alh167 1685-1759, and alh13 1622-1713

Architectural description and historical information:
Augustus Lucus was a French Huguenot who arrived in Newport early in the 18th century. A 1711 notice from the “Boston News Letter” told of slaves to be sold at the Newport Colony House and to be viewed at Lucus’ house. This may not have been the Division Street house. Downing’s research shows Lucus buying the land at Division Street in 1711, additional purchases followed until 1721 when buildings as well as land are mentioned. The house/building that stood from 1721 came to Augustus Johnston, Lucus’ grandson, before 1765. Johnston became the Stamp Master of Newport in 1765 which was not the best of times to be a Crown representative. Johnston fled Newport’s rebellious ruffians for Charleston in 1766. Very little has come to light concerning the period from 1766 to 1788 when Samuel Freebody purchased the house. From the exterior the building appears a good and proper example of a 1740 to 1760 Newport interpretation of the Georgian style. Square form, five bay façade, hip roof and molded windows frames. On the interior the front rooms on each floor are very much of this period as well as the staircase. At the rear of the house is a wonderful stair with flat S-sawn balusters of the early period that corresponds with Lucus’ ownership during the 1711 – 1721 years. Oddities persist, the house has two interior chimneys, but they are placed front to back rather than side to side, as was the normal Georgian interpretation. The rear chimney, with its kitchen fireplace, is the one with more age. The foundation walls appear to be of one unified build rather that parts of an earlier building combined with a later construction. Exterior walls, particularly on the north and west walls are studded construction and also have brick nogging. Both of these techniques are quite uncommon for Newport. Was there a first period small house facing east? Did Johnston simply enlarge that small building into a Georgian mansion house facing west onto Division Street? Or was the house the result of a combination of events that rather completely transformed one structure to another with not much in the way of obvious structural or recorded clues? Questions remain and probably will for some time. The dendro findings date a couple of sampling in 1759/60, which is in keeping with the house as seen today. There are a couple of strange datings ranging from 1618 to 1634 that would seem to make sense only as reused timbers, while nothing dating from the first quarter of the 18th century shows in the results, with the exception of a single felling of 1714. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3
 


SIMEON POTTER HOUSE, 37 Marsh Street, Newport, RI (41.491558, -71.319708)

Felling dates: Summer 1722 and Winter 1722/3

Site chronology produced: MRC 1547-1722

Architectural description and historical information:
From Downing’s research, the Simeon Potter house was built by Jacob Duhane before 1749. A building is shown at this location on the Stiles’ Map, 1758. It is also recorded as the first free school in Newport. The Proprietors of Long Wharf funded it in part by a lottery that was augmented with a donation of funds as well as the land and house. This donation was provided by Cap’t Simeon Potter, a privateer from Bristol. Further records indicate the school was established in 1795 and other sources say the school was opened with twenty-five students under the tutelage of a Joseph Finch in October of 1814. The house itself is a large gambrel roof building on a scale of the Hunter house and other Washington Street houses of stature. It has great depth, but is only four bays across the façade as opposed to the more normal five that achieve the balance of the Georgian ideal. Today, there is one chimney on the east side that appears to have period age. There was a second chimney, probably the earliest, on the larger west side of the house that has been removed. This west or Washington Street end of the house appears to be the oldest construction. The exterior has plank walls fastened with large oak pegs through the sills and girts. The east side has stud construction in the exterior walls though it is difficult to know the exact period this dates from. The interior is also a mix of periods and details, the main staircase runs nearly straight to the second floor with just two risers turned at the top to complete the ascent. The balusters are simple turnings and appear to be fourth quarter 18th century first quarter 19th century in style. Though a confused picture of periods is present in this house, it is very typical of a house begun at some level during the first quarter and successively enlarged and changed throughout the 18th and into the early 19th century, obscuring a clear vision of what existed structurally to support the dendro findings that put the earliest date of construction at 1722-23. Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3




DAVID BRAMAN, SR. HOUSE, 18 Thames Street (41.49321, -71.315324)

Felling dates: Winter 1705/6, Spring 1706, and Summer 1706

Site chronology produced: TMS 1506-1705

Architectural description and historical information:
The Braman House is a two story, gable roofed building with its end to the street. Physical evidence, particularly inside give an impression of an early building, but documentation has always been slight. A building appears at this location on the Stiles Map (1758). First mention appears when Miriam Johnson offers the house for sale in the 29 August 1774 edition of the Newport Mercury. The revolution seemed to intervene and records show the house finally sold to David Braman, a calker, in 1788 for “thirty Spanish silver milled dollars. NRF had always used the vague date of c.1700 until the 2003 Dendrochronology Project gave us a date of 1706. The first structure, well evidenced in the house, would have been a hall/chamber, two story, end chimney plan so common in RI in the latter 17th, early 18th century. Heavy shouldered corner posts along with significant summer beams are visible in the second floor chamber on the west portion of the house. The timbers have chamfers that end in lambs tongues. The work within is very much in keeping with other examples from this period such as the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House and The Friends Meeting House. Later, probably 1740 to 1760, an addition was constructed to the east of the chimney doubling the house in size. It was at this time that the posts and summer beam on the first floor were cased and other refinements made that were reflective of this period. The second floor, early, west chamber was fortunately not changed at this time. Other changes included a more open staircase and revised windows and doorway on the exterior. A wide cornice was created on the façade by sistering rafters from the ridge to the eves at an angle that allowed them to project beyond the face of the building giving the structure a prominent boxed cornice and a more Georgian appearance. It is unclear whether these exterior changes were effected in one effort or perhaps two during the 18th century. It is known that David Braman’s 1788 purchase began a long ownership by the Braman family ending with the property being sold by descendants to NRF in 1969. Downing & Scully, The Architectural Heritage of Newport Stachiw, Myron O., The Early Architecture & Landscapes of the Narragansett Basin, Vol. I Newport Restoration Foundation, archives and architectural drawing files Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3
 


WANTON-LYMAN HAZARD HOUSE, 17 Broadway, Newport, RI (41.490777, -71.312664)

Felling dates: Winter 1695/6 and Spring 1696

Site chronology produced: WLH 1525-1695

Architectural description and historical information:
The Wanton-Lyman-Hazard house has sparked debate and controversy concerning its age, sequence of additions and changes for most of the 20th century. It is thought the original house had common design ties to other Rhode Island houses of the late 17th century. A massive central chimney, center entry hall and stair with one heated room either side of the chimney on both the first and second floors makes up the house. In appearance the house is a two story, central pilastered chimney building just one room deep with a steeply pitched gable roof. Changes were effected over the years: a small addition to the northeast corner in the third quarter of the 18th century, and more extensive additions across the entire back of the house about 1795. On the front, the roof was “kicked out” with short rafters added to the main rafters to kick out the lower roof slope to form a cornice that includes a plaster cove. Some feel this roof/cornice treatment is original or early at least, while others have felt it was a later work. Norman Isham did extensive work restoring the house, in 1927-28, removing the rear additions along with extensive work on the interior. It remains today, largely a testament to his thinking as well as an example of early preservation work. There are some that wish that the work had been documented with greater detail regarding the process and findings. Basically the north rooms retain a first period point of view with exposed oak timbers, large fireplaces and a generally simple essence. The south rooms reflect the Georgian period with cased framing timbers and panelled chimneybreasts on fireplaces reduced in size and scale to fit the over-mantles and panelling. This 2003 dendrochronology project was the first time a scientific dating process was applied to the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard house.. The samples were taken from roof rafters and joists in the attic floor and did yield a date of 1697. The posts and timbers of the first and second floors were not sampled in this session because of possible damage to decorative finishes. In the future it may be deemed advisable to proceed with further sampling. Downing & Scully, The Architectural Heritage of Newport Stachiw, Myron O., The Early Architecture & Landscapes of the Narragansett Basin, Vol. I Newport Historical Society, published and archive materials Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3