Strolling through Time

An Architectural Tour of Newport Doorways

The Newport Landmark Historic District has more restored homes than any other city in Colonial America. With well over two hundred period homes of the 18th century, half along the waterfront in the Point area, and the balance throughout Historic Hill. Newport showcases one of the most diverse displays of architectural doorways. Early Colonial designs line the cobblestone streets.

 Photo by Linda Manning

Wanton Lyman House c1675, 17 Broadway Federal style doorway with a peaked triangular Pediment and flat Pilasters

Photo by Linda ManningHunter House c1780, Washington Street, is of Georgian style accenting a Pediment adapted from classic Roman arches, surrounding a colorful pineapple, symbol of hospitality, fluted Pilasters, and stylish crosshead.
Photo by Linda ManningBenjamin Howland House c1721 exposes straightforward doorway lines at 6 Bridge Street and Photo by Linda ManningJames Gardner c1750 23 Bridge Street, displays top lights, flat casings and raised door panels.
Captain William Read c1740 58 Thames Street reveals an entry topped with a crosshead, top lights, flat Pilasters, and raised a panel door. Betsy Coddington House c1750, 77 Thames Street presents a Peak Pediment, Palladian window, center keystone, flat Pilasters topped with a decorative Capital.
Christopher Townsend c1725 added split louver doors at 74 Bridge Street.  Thomas Townsend c1735-1750, 53 Bridge Street, similar to 74 Bridge architecture omitting the louver doors.
Simon Pease House c1700 on 32 Clarke Street reflects a simple raised two panel door. Daniel Carr House c1712 on 20 Division Street is outfitted with a small crosshead, top lights and a four panel recessed door.
Captain Geo Buckmaster c1748 illustrates a larger Crosshead, wide flat Pilasters and a peaked capped Pediment. The straight forward Federal Style then added a fanlight as seen on the Gideon Cornell House. Gideon Cornell c1765, 3 Division Street adds a fanlight above the entry door.
Greek revival architecture is noted on 40 School Street .Notice the top and side lights as well as the horseshoe decorations on the Crosshead surrounded by elaborate dentil work and capped with a balcony. Corner of Pelham and Corne Street
Color on Bellevue Avenue

In Colonial Newport, the Quakers and Jews helped transform 17th century architecture. But simple Federal style doorways soon changed in the18th century. Homes built at that time were straightforward in design. The style of the two story structures were not built from an architect’s sketch or a blue print but as styles passed on from generation to generation. Wood shingles covered all sides of the exterior with only the wealthy showing off the front with clapboard. The homes were then painted in a colorful array of rich blue, green, red, and black, imitating the Colonists native soil. At that time, white paint was so costly; it was used singularly on the door facades. A competition of sort took place in the 18th century resulting in elaborate and fancy doorways.

One of Newport’s oldest surviving residences of the 17th century is the Wanton-Lyman Hazard House. The home was originally built as a two story with two single rooms on either side of the chimney. Then used as a private residence and home to a Colonial Governor, merchants, lawyers, and craftsmen it was the site of the Stamp Act riot in 1765. A clear illustration of the luxuriant Georgian style entry way is shown on Hunter House. This architectural style gave birth to an elegant entryway as viewed on the fishermen’s homes along the waterfront in the Point section.

Simple 18th century doorways on the Point display top lights, flat colonial casings and raised panel doors, noticeably aesthetic to the eye but simple in design.

As the century progressed, more elaborate entry ways can be viewed at Betsy Coddington House, Christopher Townsend’s, and Thomas Townsend’s doorways.

Travel from the waterfront along the pasts of our ancestors to the heart of the city at Historic Hill, to view yet another display of noteworthy doorways.

Many of the uncomplicated homes erected in the 18th century were distinguished from others by means of creating detailed doorway styles, this was one way to show-off your individuality and to make a statement to your neighbors.

As you meander along Division Street, the embellishments of the historic doorways became more complex and larger in fashion.

The Georgian style featured Pediments without lights of glass contrasting to the ornate Greek revival enhanced with top and side lights. A perfect example of the Greek revival illustration reveals decorative Capitals, fluted full-round columns with an attic base in addition to rectangular columns and recessed panels.

One of the most sophisticated doorways is found on the corner of Pelham and Corne Street, presenting Scamozzi Capitals, fluted rectangular and full rounded columns painted in hues of gold and green, a magnificent display of architecture, color, and style. And of course, as the grand finale, we can’t forget, for the most part, color. Hues of crimson, tangerine, and yellow beautify this unique demonstration of architecture and style found on Bellevue Avenue across from the Hotel Viking.

Capping our tour of historical doorways, many of the homes located on the Colonial streets of Newport amass distinctive and structural doorway designs depending on the century in which they were built. In taking the time to walk the narrow streets you can attain a glimpse of the doorways in days gone by, notably as a historical timeline of impressive architecture.

The Kitt Shepley House

23 Division Street Newport, RI 02840


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