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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Newport Restoration Foundation holds one of the largest collections of period architecture owned by a single organization anywhere in the United States.
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175 Spring Street
The Samuel Bours House sits on its original site. Built c.1777, it is a two-story building set end-to-the-street with a gambrel roof. However, unlike many eighteenth-century Newport houses sited in this way, the main entry is on the long side-yard façade rather than the end that faces the street. The house was purchased in 1969 by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) and restored in 1971-72.
Despite the entry location that usually allows a traditional four-bay or square-house plan, this house is a modified plan. The stairway is located to the left of the front door (as viewed from the exterior), but not tight into the corner of the house as one would normally find. A small amount of space remains for windows on the first and second floors between a backing wall for the stairway and the exterior back wall. This remaining space is barely the width of the window frame and today allows for only a small closet, thus could not have been thought of as a room during the eighteenth century.
The house has a single, large interior chimney with three fireplaces on each floor. The chimney, complete with a large cook fireplace and oven, is original to the house. Many doors, trim, floors, some wainscoting, and the stairway were also in place when NRF purchased the property.
The house does not appear on the Stiles Map of 1758, but by 1777 a house owned by Samuel Bours did exist at this location. Bours was a successful and respected merchant trader. Records of 1805 show the house belonging to Samuel's son, John Bours. John was his father's equal or better as a successful merchant, dealing in several areas of trade, and also maintaining a shop on Thames Street named the Golden Eagle. A portrait of John Bours painted by John Singleton Copley is in the collection of the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts.