Skip to main content Skip to home page

Built c.1705, the Odlin-Otis House is a long, one-room deep, gable-roof building that stands on the original site. The south end wall is brick and includes a chimney with a fireplace on each floor, including the attic. An interior chimney at the north end affords one fireplace on each of the first and second floors. Both the interior and exterior walls are of plank construction, and an ell to the rear is of mixed construction, some parts dating from 1730, others from the nineteenth century. The Newport Restoration Foundation bought the house in 1972 and restored it in 1976-77.

The architectural drawings depicting the house in 1972 indicate several curious features. The chimney had been removed from the north end, although evidence existed in the basement area and in the first-floor framing that referenced the chimney's size and location. It is believed that this chimney, which may have incorporated a brick end and been square to the façade, was part of the c. 1705 one-room, hall/chamber plan structure first built on the site. (In time, this north end wall was extended to the sidewalk line that is not square to the front.) The entry would have been at the north end on Spring Street, opening onto a tightly twisting staircase against the large end chimney.

It also appears from framing details that an addition was constructed to the south end of the existing hall/chamber house and is thought to date from c.1710. The brick end of the main structure has three fireplaces, one at each level, and is laid in an inconsistent common bond. Sometime around 1730, an ell was constructed to the rear of the 1705 house and, later, the end wall of both the house and ell were extended to conform to the oblique angle of Mary Street.

During the nineteenth century, the house was altered to create a double house. Two front entries centered on the Spring Street façade were added, as well as an interior dividing wall and a second stairway. The house remained in this form until its restoration by NRF. Other earlier changes to the house represented typical period modernization that updated the first period building to a c.1800 style. These changes included a federal fanlight doorway in the original 1705 entry location and changes to window trim, sash, and other exterior details.

What little information is known about the eighteenth-century owners of this property comes from The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island by Antoinette F. Downing and Vincent J. Scully, Jr. According to this source, Walter Clarke sold the land to John Odlin in 1705 and Odlin is believed to have built the hall/chamber, end-chimney house at this time. The house is shown on the Stiles Map of 1758 and the British List of 1777 credits ownership to Jonathan Otis.

Jonathan Otis was a silversmith born in Sandwich, Massachusetts in 1723. He worked at his trade in Newport from 1750 until he moved to Middletown, Connecticut during the British occupation of Newport. While in Newport, his time was spent at a location recorded as 87 Spring Street, which is probably this house. (The street numbering has since changed.) It is not known at this time if Jonathan Otis returned to the silver trade in Newport after the Revolution. However, a deed exists indicating that Otis sold this house to Clarke Rodman in 1788.

Preservation property detailimage

Photo of the house before restoration.

Back to top