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.
Visit Doris Duke’s art-filled mansion and enjoy panoramic ocean views from the extensive grounds. Open late March to November.
The Vernon House is a site for expansive story-telling, contemporary dialogue, and preservation trades skill-building.
Newport Restoration Foundation holds one of the largest collections of period architecture owned by a single organization anywhere in the United States.
Celebrate excellence in historic preservation efforts within the City of Newport, Rhode Island.
Live amidst history by renting one of our many historic properties.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are highlighting women collectors, artists, and makers who are an important part of the stories we tell at NRF.
Although Rough Point is not featured in HBO’s The Gilded Age show, it was certainly part of the real Gilded Age.
Just as fictional Bertha Russell plays an important role in the success of her family—including her husband’s business interests—so did Nanaline Duke. She knew how to successfully navigate society and to help her husband make and strengthen business connections through society events like dinners. She was responsible for creating a comfortable, well-ordered home by furnishing, decorating and arranging the spaces, and managing the household staff.
Newport was a center for the social elite to spend their summers. The Duke family vacationed in Newport long before they purchased Rough Point in 1922. Over the next two years, Nanaline worked to make Rough Point a showcase and an attractive place to host society events.
She was very hands-on and corresponded with the design firms and decorators working on the renovations (as she was during the construction on the Duke house on 78th Street and 5th Ave. in 1909). Although American women may have had limited rights—and only were guaranteed the right to vote in 1920—they exercised their economic buying power. Besides being involved with the design of the rooms, Nanaline also purchased objects and furnishings for Rough Point.
This invoice from June of 1924 is a list from shopping excursions to a local Newport store, John H. Kazanjian & Co., specializing in “Oriental” wares. Items Nanaline purchased included 15 dining room chairs (and 15 wastebaskets!), 2 sugar bowls, 16 pillows, and many other assorted household goods.
There is a tendency to dismiss women’s shopping in this period as frivolous and unimportant. In fact, the press would later dismiss daughter Doris Duke’s behavior as “shopping” when she was in the process of amassing a significant collection of art from Southeast Asia and from the Islamic world.
But middle-class and wealthy women—through their purchases, their social rituals, and philanthropic work—helped shape American consumer culture (the rise of big department stores!), ideas about philanthropy and charitable giving, and collections of objects that are collected and stewarded in museums today.
Our upcoming exhibition, Inspired by Asia: Highlights from the Duke Family Collection, also explores the role Nanaline played in collecting art and design from Asia. Many of the objects on display at Rough Point today were purchased by Nanaline Duke—discover Nanaline’s influence on Rough Point’s design the next time you visit.
The project begins in 2024 at 38 Green Street
The Phase I restoration at Rough Point has been awarded a 2023 AIA Honor and Design Citation from the American Institute of Architects, Rhode Island.