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Who was Cato Vernon?


One of our ongoing projects is to discover more about the people who lived, worked, and worshiped in NRF Preservation Properties like 46 Clarke Street—many of whom were enslaved women, men, and children.

While we do not have an illustrated likeness of Cato, he left behind a written record which helps reveal his lived experience.


[Exterior of 46 Clarke Street, 1933]

Cato Vernon (who also sometimes went by Cato Varnum) was an African-heritage man born in Newport around the year 1759. He was a skilled carpenter. Cato joined the 1st Rhode Island Regiment in 1778, which meant that he was manumitted and was “absolutely free” from enslavement through this military service. He served for five years and was granted a badge of distinction for “bravery, fidelity, and good conduct.”

After the war, like many of those who served in his regiment, he was owed back-pay from the military and he also never received a military pension. In 1793, he was imprisoned in the Newport gaol for his debts and he dictated a letter to William Vernon, his former enslaver, asking for debt relief.

Cato Vernon disappears from the known historical record sometime around 1798.

There is certainly more to discover about Cato’s remarkable life and legacy—not only his service in the Continental Army but also his shaping of the city of Newport through his carpentry work.

For more information about the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, visit BlackPast.Org 



Image credit: U.S., Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. Microfilm Publication M246, 138 rolls; NAID: 602384; War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93; The National Archives in Washington, D.C.


Classification:          Full-time (Exempt) 

Reports to:                    President 

Job Summary:              The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) is seeking a Development Administrator. The Development Administrator is responsible for establishing, developing and maintaining a fundraising program to support and enhance the mission of NRF to include the following areas: the major gifts program, grants, annual fund, planned giving, corporate and foundation fundraising and special events.  This position works closely with the President in all development and fundraising endeavors.

Salary Range:             $55,000 – $60,000 (commensurate with experience), medical, dental vision life, insurance, health savings account, 401(k) contribution (not a match), 15 vacation days, 10 sick days, holidays, professional development assistance 

Specific Responsibilities

  • Create an annual fundraising plan in collaboration with the President.
  • Research and apply for grant opportunities.
  • Assist the President in the cultivation of donor relationships.
  • Secure financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations.
  • Identify, develop and track proposals and reporting requirements for all fundraising.
  • Organize and coordinate the planning and management of the annual Doris Duke Preservation Awards and other fundraising events.
  • Manage the annual fund campaign.
  • Work closely with Marketing on fundraising collateral and communications to build support for the NRF.
  • Develop and maintain the policies and procedures manual for gifts and data entry in accordance with fundraising principles.
  • Maintain and manage fundraising database.
  • Maintain gift recognition programs and donation acknowledgements.
  • Attend Foundation events and create and implement strategies to cultivate/steward prospects and donors.
  • Attend community events, networking events, and conferences to further fundraising goals.
  • Other related duties as assigned by the President’s Office.



  • Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Business, Public Humanities or relevant field.
  • Prior nonprofit development experience preferred.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Grant writing experience preferred.
  • Strong computer and database knowledge.
  • Ability to maintain absolute confidentiality of work related information.
  • Self-motivated individual with creative problem solving skills, and ability to organize and prioritize work and meet critical deadlines.
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends as needed.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and dependable car for use in various tasks.


Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and résumé to  The position is open until filled. EOE.

Classification:            Full-time (Exempt)


Reports to:                 President


Job Summary:           The Newport Restoration Foundation is seeking a Digital Content Producer & Marketing/Communications Lead. This position is primarily responsible for creating a variety of traditional and new media, including but not limited to, videos, blog posts and newsletters through NRF’s websites, social media platforms, mobile applications and other digital products in order to build awareness locally and nationally, increase attendance, and grow revenue through program and development activities. This person will also become the lead in investigating new forms of media and communications that will engage an expansive audience. This position works closely with all departments in the organization and is deeply collaborative.


Salary Range:             $60,000 – $65,000 (commensurate with experience), medical, dental vision life, insurance, health savings account, 401(k) contribution (not a match), 15 vacation days, 10 sick days, holidays, professional development assistance


Specific Responsibilities:

  • Create and produce professional, engaging, high quality video content
  • Edit and post-production of video content
  • Operate professional cameras, lights and audio equipment for all NRF events, programs and other marketing purposes
  • Responsible for selecting and maintaining recording equipment
  • Understand aesthetics and formatting of content for social media
  • Manage digital media platforms with assistance from other departments, which includes communicating with social media followers, responding to queries in a timely manner and monitoring customer reviews on all platforms
  • Work closely with the President’s Office on strategy and implementation of internal and external communication efforts
  • Coordinate work with contract designers for marketing materials and manages placement of advertisements for NRF properties and programs
  • Act as the organization’s in-house graphic designer for projects such as the annual report, signage, digital/social promotions, retail merchandise items/collateral etc.
  • Develop and distribute press releases, story pitches, and other announcements to local and national media outlets and provide editorial review of any materials made for public distribution
  • Serve as NRF’s primary contact for all media outlets and cultivates relationships with press and advertisers
  • Coordinate technical web aspects (website hosting & domains, social media access) for all of NRF’s websites
  • Manage NRF photography library with Curator and coordinates all photo requests and permission forms for publication
  • Responsible for calendar listings across relevant platforms, which may include local press
  • Collect, organize, and archive marketing and media records for future reference
  • Collaborate with Development on maintaining NRF’s constituent lists and CRM contacts
  • Attend and represent NRF at Discover Newport marketing meetings and local events as available and coordinate local tourism marketing partnerships
  • Manage marketing budget across all facets of the organization
  • Other projects as requested by the President’s Office



  • Bachelor’s degree in Film production; Photography; a related field
  • A minimum of 1-3 years of experience using professional recording equipment with a strong knowledge of video editing software
  • Excellent grasp of graphic design principles; experience with graphics software (Adobe Creative Suite) highly desirable to meet demands of in-house design projects
  • A demonstrated track record of designing immersive, experiential visuals
  • A keen eye for relevant and trending content on social platforms that will drive engagement
  • Strong comfort level with photographing events and programs
  • Creative thinker with an excellent eye for detail
  • Must be capable of managing multiple concurrent projects and meeting closely spaced deadlines
  • Experience working with the press and media
  • Experience with budget management and planning required
  • Requires excellent verbal and written skills to communicate appropriately to a variety of audiences and stakeholders
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office products
  • Data-driven with strong analytical skills
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and résumé to The position remains open until filled. EOE.

Title:                           Custodial Care Associate

Classification:         Part-time (hourly, non-exempt)

Reports to:                Director of Facilities

Job Summary:       The Newport Restoration Foundation is seeking a Custodial Care Associate to join our facilities department at the beautiful waterfront location of the Rough Point museum, on Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RIThis position is responsible for cleaning and maintaining both the public and office spaces at Rough Point.  During the spring, summer and fall the cleaning and maintenance will tend to focus on cleaning and care of public areas, bathrooms and offices, while winter work involves large scale cleaning of chandeliers, metal objects, woodwork, floors and textile items, in addition to the cleaning and care of public areas, bathrooms and offices.  The Collections Care Technician and Senior Curator will train this position on how to clean collections items and other sensitive materials.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Clean rooms, hallways, restrooms, elevators, stairways and utility areas
  • Vacuum public path rugs
  • Empty wastebaskets and transport trash and recyclable materials to disposal areas
  • Sweep, scrub, wax and/or polish floors as required using dust mops and wet mops
  • Dust and polish public doors and fixtures
  • Keep housekeeping equipment and material storage areas well stocked and tidy
  • Clean doorways, steps and porches
  • Replenish supplies such as paper goods and bathroom items
  • Other cleaning and maintenance duties as requested by the Director of Facilities


  • High School diploma or equivalent
  • Prior housekeeping experience
  • Flexibility in handling a variety of tasks
  • Organize work under unexpected circumstances
  • Must be able to work independently and follow instructions regarding priorities of tasks
  • Positive attitude
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to lift and carry at least forty pounds and climb and work from a high ladder

Salary; $18-$20 per hour plus a 4.5% 401(k) contribution (not a match).

Schedule; 24 hours per week year-round.

Free on-site parking.

To apply please send a résumé to maeve@newportrestoration. The position remains open until filled.

This holiday season—whether you are cozy at home or away on an adventure— here are some great ideas to help celebrate the season.

Thank you for supporting the Newport Restoration Foundation and for shopping local. All proceeds benefit NRF and help promote our mission.

Enjoy free standard shipping—as well as free local delivery and free local pickup.


Take the stress out of gift-giving! Your gifts will be beautifully wrapped in paper featuring hand-drawn illustrations and patterning. Select “gift wrapping” during checkout.


*New for 2022*

Holidays in Hawaii Collection: Doris Duke often enjoyed the holiday season at her home in Hawaii, and these products are a nod to the warm and merry holidays Doris and friends spent at Shangri La.

*New* Whimsical Camel Pillow: These plush pillows feature Bactrian camels Princess and Baby, and are perfect to gift or to add coziness to your home. (Doris Duke was a big fan of comfy and stylish design—and we think this pillow is both in one!)


Gift Sets: Perfectly curated gift sets for a special someone—or yourself! Each set includes a natural homemade soap bar, a hand-poured wood wick candle that crackles when lit, and a natural balm that nourishes and protects lips.

Holiday Collection: Celebrate the holidays with featured ornaments, exclusive products inspired by the museum collections, and special gifts (for you, or to share!)

Ornaments: From the iconic exterior of Rough Point, to an homage to Doris’s passion for jazz, to brightly-colored handcrafted designs, these ornaments are perfect to display at home all year-round.

For Entertaining: Entertain in style (or dress up a cozy night at home) with these beautiful, collection-inspired, eco-friendly napkins, plates, coasters, and guest towels.

Unique gifts for all:

For the book-lover: From Doris Duke’s closets & collections, to historic Newport buildings, inside looks at Rough Point, colonial life & Newport furniture, garden-related stories for gardeners & enthusiasts, and kid-friendly new favorites & classics—discover a book for everyone!

For the decisive decision-maker: Featuring a saying from a pillow gifted to Doris Duke, these items showcase Doris’s sense of humor (and your own!)

For the furniture fan: These items are inspired by Whitehorne House Museum’s collection of exquisitely crafted furniture and the stories of the people who designed, made, and purchased furniture and related crafts.

For your furry friends: Our pets deserve some TLC this winter season (*all products are rated two paws up!)





For the gardener: Stylish & sturdy gardening gloves, beautiful books, hand salve, & more. NRF Estate Gardener approved!

For hardworking hands: Soaps, hand butter, hand salve & more! Everything you need to pamper your hard-working hands. From relaxing to invigorating scents—go ahead and indulge. Locally made with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.

For kids: Fun, educational, and whimsical products for the littlest explorers, artists, and gardeners.

For restoration buffs: Founded in 1968 by Doris Duke, NRF works to study climate change resilience in Newport, develop new community-oriented programs, preserve our museums and historic buildings, and steward centuries-old properties. You too can join us in supporting this work.

For the yogi: These custom yoga pants are relaxing, comfy, & stylish. Limited quantities!



NRF Museum Store gift cards are also available for use online or in store.

Follow us on social media @nptrestoration or sign up to receive newsletters to stay in the know about new products and new sales.


Our special holiday pop-up is located at Rough Point Museum, 680 Bellevue Ave. Open Fridays- Sundays during the holiday season, beginning on November 25th.


Classification: Full-time (hourly, non-exempt)

Reports to: Chief Operating Officer

Job Summary: We are looking for a focused, industrious, and restoration-passionate accountant, who will play an integral role in maintaining the day-to-day financial records by recording transaction in a timely, accurate and consistent manner. This position specifically works closely with the Tenant Liaison, and the Chief Operating Officer, however they will also enjoy the rest of our supportive and collaborative team.

Salary Range: $55,000 – $65,000 (commensurate with experience), medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, health savings account, 401(k) contribution, 15 vacation days, 10 sick days, and a generous amount of holidays.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

• Reconcile, record and deposit cash receipts
• Maintain accounts payables, ensure timely payment of invoices, confirming validity of debt and gathering appropriate signatures
• Reconcile bank and investment statements
• Prepare and post monthly journal entries
• Input biweekly payroll entries
• Maintain accounts receivables, predominantly tenant receivables through a property management software package
• Respond to tenant and vendor inquiries as they arise
• Request and maintain W-9s and liability insurance, as applicable, from vendors
• Prepare annual 1099’s
• Assist with annual budget preparation under the purview of senior management
• Assist with annual audit as well as workers’ comp audit
• Prepare quarterly employer 401k distributions and annual 401k reconciliations
• Process biweekly payroll during absence of Human Resource Administrator
• Monitor and analyze department work to develop more efficient procedures and resources while maintaining a high level of accuracy
• Assist with various human resources related projects as necessary
• Respond to inquiries from the Chief Operating Officer regarding financial results, special reporting and the like


• Bachelor’s degree in accounting, business, or a related field is preferred
• At least 5 years of accounting experience, preferably 2 in non-profit accounting
• Proficient in the use of QuickBooks desktop version and some familiarity of payroll software
• Excellent knowledge of MS Office, mainly Excel
• Knowledge of accounting principles and practices
• Good judgement, with the ability to make timely and sound decisions
• Exercise discretion and maintain confidentiality with regard to sensitive information
• Driven, self-motivated, and goal oriented.
• Highly organized, analytical thinker with strong eye for detail

If you are interested in this position, please submit a cover letter and résumé to Maeve Sheehan, Human Resource Administrator via email: The position remains open until filled.

During the sweltering summer months, I was lucky enough to be working in a refrigerator- a clothing refrigerator – hidden away in what was the servants’ quarters on the third floor of Rough Point Museum. Even though the climate-controlled textile collection storage lacks the never-ending ocean view that Rough Point is so famous for, it contains multitudes of other wonders – specifically the fashionable clothing of Doris Duke.

I felt like I had been working alongside Doris this summer, aiding her in organizing her prized possessions, stored carefully to extend their lives well beyond hers. I became accustomed to her style: she was practical but fun, stylish but unique. I was also introduced to all of her favorite designers and makers: Halston, Tina Leser, Taj of India, Star of Siam, Dior, and my personal favorite, surrealist designer Elsa Schiaparelli [i].

Schiaparelli and Doris seem like a match made in heaven. Both were extremely intelligent women who actively rejected the status quo in the quest for their own kind of life and maintained a good sense of humor. For these reasons, it makes sense that Doris had acquired some of Schiaparelli’s more practical designs, swimsuits.

I learned that when Doris liked something, she bought it in every possible color. Specifically, Doris owned three different colors of Schiaparelli’s “Briefer” swimsuit: green, black, and a rainbow-striped print. This design was a collaboration between Schiaparelli and the swimwear brand Catalina that consisted of a convertible two-piece seersucker bikini set that was adjustable for swimming or tanning (See Figure 1). This design gives the wearer options of how high-waisted the bottoms were, and if their top had straps or not (See Figures 2 and 3). This ingenuity was perfect for Doris’ lifestyle, providing coverage and comfort when she was catching some waves surfing, but also some stylish tanning abilities when relaxing on the beaches of Hawai’i.

A sweet and humorous detail on two of the three swimsuits is patches of Schiaparelli’s reinterpretation of the Catalina Swimwear logo, a flying fish [ii]. The first iteration of these swimsuits and the interpretation of the logo was seen in 1948 as the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant” before the suits made it to mass production [iii]. The designs on the suits in Doris’ closet have a bit more whimsy to them, with a flying minnow on one of the suits. I like to think that these fun flying fish were part of why she purchased these glamorous swimsuits.

Even though these swimsuits are just a small portion of the giant clothing and textile collection that Doris left behind at NRF, they embody who she was, how she operated, and how she presented herself. The fact that this is a mass-produced design, and also a designer item, speaks to her dueling shopping habits of department stores versus couture houses. With all the money in the world, you would think she would only have purchased one-of-a-kind designer items, but she had a humbleness to her. She knew she was not better than a fairly-priced and well-made item of clothing. Although there are many pieces of clothing in this collection that are couture, they are outnumbered by the number of t-shirts, comfortable caftans, eclectic dance costumes, and tourist treasures that she connected with enough to take home, protect, and save.

By Mel Kennelly, University of Rhode Island intern

Melissa Kennelly is a current Graduate student at the University of Rhode Island perusing her master’s degree in Textile History and Conservation. She obtained her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2020, majoring in Apparel Design with a special interest in dress and textile history. Upon graduation into a global pandemic, she realized that she didn’t want to create more clothing for a world that already has more than enough, which is when she started pursuing a career where she could protect the textiles and clothing that already exist through the artforms of conservation and curation.







Figure 1: 1949 ad for Schiaparelli and Catalina swimsuit collaboration.


Figure 2: Green, shirred seersucker two-piece swimsuit by Schiaparelli.
NRF 2021.93 - tied

Figure 3: Green, shirred seersucker two-piece swimsuit by Schiaparelli.
NRF 2021.93 - untied

Figure 4: Bea Waring (Miss America 1948) wearing the exclusive Schiaparelli and Catalina swimsuit.


Figure 5: Close-up of flying fish design on green swimsuit 2021.93

Figure 6: Close-up of flying fish design on black swimsuit 2021.92

Summer tends to be intern season at NRF’s museums—a time when we welcome one or more up-and-coming museum professionals to the organization to develop new skills, meet new people and learn about the varied and interesting work of museums. Internships are often a critical step in introducing potential museum professionals to museum work.  They are a central part of most training programs in collections and conservation work.  After all, where else can one get experience in handling, cataloging, and conserving a diverse range of museum art and artifacts?  I began my career in museum work with a summer internship, and that experience led to my first paying job in the field. These opportunities are so important in determining whether or not someone enters the museum field, that one of my colleagues once wryly noted that “The best way to get a job in a museum is to have a job in a museum (or an internship).”  And yet, for some students, especially students from marginalized communities, internships are hard to learn about and harder still to enter into.

While there are many reasons for this last point, one indisputable factor is how many museum internship opportunities favor students with observable privilege and resources.  For example, most internship opportunities across the field tend to be unpaid or low paying, nor does the staff that creates the program typically have time for the outreach necessary to communicate with specific communities of students. The economics of internships often fail to take into account the transportation needs of those who may be unable to afford a car.  And sadly, those interns who are selected to join an institution a great distance from their homes often find out that they cannot afford the living expenses in a new place even for a few months.  Many museum internships prove more expensive for the intern than for the institution that offers them, and since race and class tend to be inextricably bound up in American society, the structure of a lot of museum internships tends to exclude most potential interns from underserved communities.

Some institutions have done terrific work in helping undergraduate students of color and others overcome the significant barriers to learning about and partaking in museum internships.  In Southern California, the Getty Foundation has supported a multicultural internship program across the region, providing funds for institutions willing to bring in summer interns from previously underrepresented minority communities. The Ford Foundation is doing similar work with early career curators at a national level, and as an occasional reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities’ grants, I can tell you that museums in places like San Jose, Newark, NJ, Pittsburgh, and other sites are creating programs that account for the needs of previously excluded groups in their intern programs.

As a longtime participant in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, I brought my experience in creating these opportunities to NRF.  In late 2020, I reached out to several of my colleagues locally and regionally to help me create NRF’s first DEI program, and this year, I am delighted to note that we will be hosting our second such intern. NRF engages with a wide variety of interns, including an internship for graduate students engaged in the field of conservation.

Meet Our Interns

Brian Villa is a history major at Rhode Island College and President of its Latin American Student Organization. He is also a McNair Scholar (a national program that prepares traditionally underrepresented students for Ph.D. programs), and finally, he is our DEI intern.  Brian is excited to connect with others within the field. He looks forward to encouraging other students to explore museum opportunities.

We are equally fortunate to welcome a second undergraduate intern to the fold this summer. Her name is Emi Zeyl, and she is an art history major at URI.  Emi is looking forward to the various learning opportunities this internship offers and is interested in NRF’s community engagement initiatives.

Our graduate intern is Mel Kennelly, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and a graduate student in textile conservation at the University of Rhode Island (URI). Mel is working with our Senior Curator, Kristen Costa, on cataloging, photographing, and rehousing the Doris Duke fashion collection from Shangri La and doing 2023 exhibition research.

We are delighted to have these talented young professionals join us this summer and look forward to having them share what they learn with you.

Bringing these interns together from different backgrounds, different schools, and with different personal histories and asking them to work and learn together has been a longstanding dream of mine.  For many years, I have created educational programs that enliven the study of history and make the learning of that subject a more active and engaging process, but I have always lamented the fact that that work has tended to focus on a single student or group of students from one school at a time.  I believe that success in any career depends on creating a widespread and diverse network of colleagues.  And in Rhode Island, where it is only a slight exaggeration to say that you are less than six degrees of separation from anyone who works in the local and regional museum field, such networking is both essential and easier to accomplish than in a big city like New York or Los Angeles.

Brian’s, Mel’s, and Emi’s internships are just the first part of the network building.  As part of our program, we connect our interns to other museum professionals in the region, including Akeia de Barros Gomes, Senior Curator at the Mystic Seaport Museum, and Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum.  Our interns will travel to both institutions to meet with Akeia and Lorén as well as other members of their staff and their seasonal interns, and sometime this summer we will welcome staff and interns from Mystic and the Tomaquag to Newport. I hope that these experiences will help connect a diverse range of potential museum professionals to the local and regional museum world and each other.

We invite you to come to Newport this summer to meet our interns and other staff and visit our museums.  Both Rough Point and the Whitehorne House Museum are now open for the season, and we can’t wait to see you.

By Erik Greenberg, Director of Museums, Newport Restoration Foundation

Throughout the month of May, we have shared stories about our current projects and the people behind the scenes who help make NRF’s preservation work possible. In our community, historic preservation matters. NRF’s collection of 18th and 19th century houses is one of the largest collections owned by a single organization anywhere in the country. Its continued maintenance is one of the most crucial ongoing preservation activities in New England.

We invite you to become part of a community that cares deeply about protecting these resources.

By joining Restoration Partners, our monthly giving program, your gift provides consistent support to the work we do every day to preserve important historic buildings in Newport.

Ten caring individuals have already joined the program this month, and we are grateful for their generosity. Will you join your neighbors? We need 10 more community members to help us achieve our goal of welcoming 20 monthly donors by the end of May.

If you’re passionate about preservation, please consider making your gift this month so we can continue to protect Newport’s architectural heritage.


P.S. Learn more about our preservation work on YouTube! Click here to start watching.

With profound sadness, Newport Restoration Foundation shares the news of the passing of our former Director of Preservation, Robert Foley. His passion and dedication to NRF helped shape our organization.

Prior to his time at NRF, Robert was an active member of Operation Clapboard, a Newport-based organization founded in 1963. Operation Clapboard was a grassroots project and was the first serious effort to recognize and save Newport’s eighteenth-century architectural treasures. Though the project only lasted a few years, Operation Clapboard saved 40 buildings and helped raise awareness about Newport’s historic structures.

When Doris Duke founded NRF in 1968, she hired Robert to document the restoration process of properties across Newport. From 1968 to 1974, he took thousands of pictures in one of the first concerted efforts to document existing conditions in the preservation field. Many of his photographs are still used by NRF today and are featured in Extraordinary Vision: Doris Duke and the Newport Restoration Foundation, which Robert co-authored.

During his career, Robert worked as a NRF archivist and later became Director of Preservation. He referred to the role as his “dream job.”  He led the preservation crew through both daily maintenance and full-scale restorations. His involvement from the very beginning helped to perpetuate the historic trades in Newport and solidified NRF as a preservation leader.

Robert retired in 2016 after more than 50 years of preservation efforts in Newport. Contributions in his memory can be made to the Seamen’s Church Institute.

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