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57 Thames Street
The Hathaway-Macomber House appears today as a large, gable-roof house with a five-bay façade and a substantial center chimney. Built c.1715, the structure was originally located in Assonet, a village of Freetown, Massachusetts, which is north of Fall River and east of the current Route 24. The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) purchased and disassembled the house in 1974 and relocated it to Newport. The house was then reconstructed and restored at its current site on Thames Street in 1974-75.
Records that exist within the NRF archives reveal a rather clouded history of the house's occupants. It is believed a Colonel Jeremiah Hathaway built the first structure c. 1715 and that the Hathaway family occupied the farmhouse throughout much of the eighteenth century. Around 1800, the Hathaways became connected to a Macomber family through marriage and, from this time on, the house was referred to as the Macomber house.
From the actual materials used to build the house, as well as the detailed drawings of the framing plan done at the time of disassembly, it is apparent that the first structure was the section to the right of the front door. This heavily framed unit is distinct from the rest of the house in size of materials and construction methods and was probably a simple, one-and-a-half or two-story hall/chamber building. Indications in the framing for a saltbox roof to the rear of the first structure suggest that an addition to the rear of the house was built next. Sometime during the second half of the eighteenth century, the farmhouse was expanded to the full house plan seen today.
While the building does not possess the formality of many Newport houses on the exterior or interior, it does have wonderful details in the exposed frame present in many rooms, in the featheredge and beaded wall sheathing, and in an assortment of original mantels and doors.
The building methods and design features found in rural farmhouses often represented a more pragmatic approach than the approach taken in large towns and cosmopolitan cities. Expediency and practicality superseded style, not only as a priority but also as a necessity. The Hathaway-Macomber House is an example of this approach to building.
Photo of the house before restoration.