NRF promotes and invests in the architectural heritage of the Newport community, the traditional building trades, and Doris Duke’s fine and decorative arts collections, for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of all.
As a leader in the preservation of early American architecture, NRF supports research and education in areas directly related to its collections and issues of critical concern to the field of historic preservation.
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74 Spring Street
The Buffum-Redwood House, c.1700 and 1750, was built on the present site and now stands as a two-story, five-bay building with a center chimney. It was originally constructed as a two-story, end-chimney house on the early Rhode Island one-room plan (also called the hall/chamber plan). In 1975, the Redevelopment Agency of Newport named the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) as the preferred developer of this property, along with the abutting property at 72 Spring Street. After purchasing the property in the same year, NRF restored the building in 1976-77.
When the house was enlarged in the mid-eighteenth century, the end chimney became a center chimney surrounded by the five-bay house seen today. In the late nineteenth century, the house was heavily Victorianized on both the exterior and interior. As a result, clues to the eighteenth-century character of the house came from its shell. When the siding was removed, particularly from the south end, wind bracing and planking indicated the outline of the original end wall. These and other structural elements uncovered during restoration, as well as good evidence in the cellar, support the existence of a very early simple house. The c.1700 date is based on these early construction remnants.
Extensive changes were made during the nineteenth century, which included raising the roof, adding brackets to the new cornice, new window trim, and a period recessed doorway. On the interior, the large early chimney had been removed, interior walls rearranged, and many exterior walls that were originally simple eighteenth-century plank construction had studs added to the interior surfaces.
It is not known when Abraham Redwood (founder of the Redwood Library in Newport) bought the building or when he sold it to his brother, William. (Abraham was also during this time the owner of the brick end house at 60 Spring Street.) However, it is thought that William was probably the owner who enlarged the house. Wealthy eighteenth-century Newporters, riding the wave of that century's prosperity, often purchased buildings for investment and to rent out, rather than occupy them. In the process, they often modernized early buildings by enlarging them and updating stylistic elements.
Photo of the house before restoration.